Book Review – My Dyslexia

 

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I could not be more behind on my book reviews. For the record, due to my line of work, the time I have available to sit down with a hard copy of a book and read it is less than the time I spend on the road where I have long drives between stops. I’ve talked this over with my friend, and we concluded that its a matter of simplicity to say one had read a book, even if that book was consumed via audiobook. The only difference would be for books that have visual images required for understanding, or if one had never learned to read in the first place. In that case, for the sake of discussion, listening to an audiobook can be considered the reading of the book.
As one of my children has Dyslexia, as well as one of my brothers, and my father, I thought it best practice to read up on the subject. There is of course plenty of technical information on the condition, but I really wanted to start off with an insider’s perspective.

In Philip Schultz’s book, My Dyslexia, we get just that, a view of Dyslexia from someone inside of it. Like my father and my brother, Schultz has gone on to live an accomplished life despite this condition that makes reading difficult. I think it will be the same for my child. As one might assume, the book takes off by delving in to the author’s past, his childhood, and what seems to be the place where Dyslexia has the more difficult effects on one’s life. The puzzle to be solved seemed not to be with in the dyslexic person, but in how we as a society have agreed is the best method for educating the most amount of children possible. By its very encompassing nature, and rigid standardization, there simply will be those small numbers of those children who run up against a system that evaluates them in a manner they are hindered at compared to their peers.

Schultz points out that the printed words in a book are in fact not language, but a visual representation of language. This is the choke point of the dyslexic’s attempt to keep up with children who do not have it. For myself, when processing large amounts of numbers or words quickly, I often stop translating the groups of ink letters fully, and begin seeing them as a single image in order to speed up the work I’m doing. Taken with whatever subject I’m tackling, I begin grouping word with similar patterns such as beginning with “phy” and “psy” and skip over that part to the second part of the given word. It seems dyslexia reverses this even down to the letter itself, which is commonly seen when letters are written backwards.

In this context, the processing of a sentence, the processing of a paragraph, and then pages of writing become more like shaping a piece of wood. As each sliver is removed from a log by a blade, it takes one more step towards revealing the piece inside of it. In this case, it seems one with dyslexia reads a book and finds understanding in the way one might watch a woodworker shaving down, carving, sanding, and cutting until it takes final form having not been told what the final product was or would look like.

As a parent of a Dyslexic child, I have come to understand that teaching my kid most effectively is in direct mentorship, verbal discussion, visual representation, all to which supports the final step of a given lesson, the reading of materials. As a parent, this also means many years of frustrating meetings, discussions, and paperwork from the various grade schools, junior high schools, and high schools. I can credit nearly every educator and school administrator I’ve encountered who’ve come in to contact with my child’s needs with having a positive experience. These individuals of course report to a set of policies that desperately want to quantify every aspect of the education process in order to meet its goals. In short, the people are analog, the systems is digital.
With in this book, we take a trip in to the author’s religion, and how the difficulty with reading made inclusion more difficult than it needed to be. Normally when encountering religion in most books I read, my brain has been highly efficient is discarding it before I waste time and mental resources fully absorbing that information. In this specific case, the author was not making a sales pitch, or giving a shout-out. He was taking another part of his life where the understanding of written words was part of the binding rituals of that group.

This book sunsets with the author finding a love of books and writing, but on his terms. Those terms seem to have taken shape as quality over quantity. In the world of the written word, quality means getting the most out of each word, each sentence, and we come to find this in the author’s path in to poetry.

My child will one day grow to an adult. They will have to make decisions about their adult life as they walk from high school classroom to classroom. Once an adult, they will face yet another life’s path choices in college, trades, public service, private business, etc.. They will likely apply for a car loan, be presenting with rental agreements, terms of employment, business contracts, the list is nearly endless. If I live only another few years, just a week, or for eighty more years, I’ll help my kids any way I can, but I’m not doing their work for them. I’ll take the hit at the schools for the friction of my kid not fitting their mass molds they created, but now, I can at least have some insight as to how dyslexia shapes one’s view of the world. This means I got just one more little piece of connecting with that child.

Thanks Phil.

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