I’ve talked about this before, but I guess this is so dear to my heart and is somewhat my hobby horse, this is my brain abnormality – dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a brain abnormality which in the simplest terms means a reading disorder despite the subject having a average or above average intelligence. In university, this qualifies me to be enrolled with disabilities services, which then helps me cope with uni work through various provisions. Dyslexia alone is an umbrella term and there are various manifestations of this brain abnormality and not every single dyslexic faces exactly the same difficulty. For example, a friend has trouble spelling and commonly mixes up letters but has no problem reading and understanding what’s been written in a passage. I have absolutely no problem spelling, in fact, I’m pretty good at it. We get tonnes of huge crazy words in vet school such as isosthenuria or haemaglobinaemia (i have a clinical pathology exam on monday, so these are the words that immediately come to mind >.<), and I’m completely comfortable with sounding them out and spelling them. What I cannot do, is extract information out of a sentence/paragraph/chapter/book. I can stare at a page for ages and still have no clue what’s going on. In a tutorial, we were all handed a journal article and had some questions relating to the article we were meant to answer. This was a complete nightmare for me. As everybody scribbled down the answers, I was still stuck on trying to understand what this article was even about. As my peers filled up the pages of questions given to us, I sat, quietly panicking knowing I could only confidently answer 2 questions. 1. Journal title of the article. 2. When was this published.
It’s so difficult sometimes to come to terms with what I have because it has made me feel somewhat inferior to my peers. I can’t read. Let me rephrase that, I can read, but the amount of information I absorb from the text is close to naught. On top of that, my brain skims over details. It feels like somewhat of a disadvantage of have this in a content heavy course such as vet science where a deep detailed understanding of each microorganism or cell is required for a mere pass. I struggle so much with this obviously on an academic level and on a emotional level. Sometimes I feel like I’m set up for failure because vets are meant to think in a certain way and my brain really does not fit that mould.
Yet, in this deep dark hole I feel I am in at times, I know that without my dyslexia, I would not be the person I am today. Part of dealing with this insecurity is claiming it as MY dyslexia, owning it and being proud to have it. It is very apparent that I think differently to heaps of people. There are times when my thoughts and ideas get me really strange looks from my audience. I was listening to a lecture about dyslexics thinking differently and why that is. If I understood this right, our brains are made up of various connections throughout the grey and white matter. These connections can be short and they can be long. The combination of short and long connections make up one’s intellect. A majority of short connections tend to manifest itself as autistic thinking where thoughts are simplified and straight forward (could be wrong). On the other end of the spectrum, a majority of the connections are long are seen in most dyslexics, where thoughts are more abstract, less concrete. Dyslexics see the whole big picture first before actually noticing the various parts contributing to the whole. When I learnt of this, it felt like such a relief, knowing that inability to see things plainly and simply wasn’t really a disadvantage at all but instead opened me up to a realm of possibilities. It’s given me the ability to look at problems and come up with unique and different solutions. It has allowed me to be able to step back, look at the bigger picture and think of what the real problem is. Additionally, one thing I’m just starting to notice is how creative I actually can be. Creative not in the artistic sense, but having ideas which are differ greatly from the norm.
I’ve been watching videos from dyslexic advantage which has encouraged me to look at how positive dyslexia can be. I felt especially thrilled when Dave McComas one of the speakers who is a dyslexic NASA physicist put up a picture of his office. It was basically just a round with heaps of chairs and a huge whiteboard. No books! That pretty much sums up how I study as well, though I have heaps of books laying around still but they just collect dust.
At this point, at over 800 words, I know most dyslexics that attempted to read my entry on dyslexia would at this point have give up reading. I apologise.
I’m pretty sure this is will be an on-going discussion on this blog and would love to hear other people’s experiences. 🙂
TO BE CONTINUED