the despair dyslexia causes

Sometimes I sit in front of the computer and I despair! That’s because it’s taken me ages to work out how to do something in Word and I’ve forgotten it and have to go through the whole learning process again. The frustration is incredibly intense. I’d learnt the procedure – so I thought, I want to learn how to word process properly, I want to be competent in the way other people are, I’m trying as hard as I can. But I can’t seem to hold the skill in my mind long enough to be able to use it again next time. Frustration is an understatement!

This is how it must be for dyslexic children who cannot read and remember. The pain of trying, of not being able to acquire a skill everyone else seems to find so simple, the pain of seeing those symbols dance around on the page and the interpretation of them dance around in your brain must surpass anything I’ve described here about not being able to word process. Because I’m not dyslexic. Here I’m doing it in private, here I’m not being judged, here I have no one breathing down my neck making me feel stupid, here I have no one saying I should be able to do this by now. And here I have no one suggesting it’s my fault as if assigning blame is of any help whatsoever. These are all the things that happen to children in schools if they cannot read.

I have no one putting me through all the intense suffering described in the comments on the blog ‘Don’t call Me Stupid’ by people who are dyslexic. (See here:

https://rossmountney.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/dont-call-me-stupid/#comments and on more recent blogs)

It strikes me that every teacher or member of staff working in schools should be put back into the learning situation themselves like I am with the computer. Should keep in touch with what it feels like to learn, what it feels like to not know something, what it feels like to be made to feel stupid as a result. Maybe then we wouldn’t have the damage done to children that has been described.

What is so bizarre about the attitude of some teachers towards children who cannot read easily is that they seem to assume the children don’t want to. But that’s crazy.

Nearly all children want to read because they want to do what adults do, they want to please adults, they want to keep up with their peers, they want access to the adult world and know reading is part of it, they want people to think good of them. Yet many teachers seem to forget that and make all kinds of dire accusations about kids not trying or not concentrating or not caring. Not to mention being thick, as we’ve heard from the comments. The longer it goes on, the further the child falls behind, the worse the accusations get. And, as is upheld in the stories in my blogs, the damage can last almost a lifetime.

I would like staff working in schools, and politicians, to stop abdicating their responsibility for the learning of the children in their care by putting the blame onto the kids, and start looking at their own practises and provision and how these are failing to enable children to learn well.

And they also need to keep in touch with what it’s like not to be able to grasp something you want to be able to do. And see what it feels like to be called stupid.

Maybe then we would have teachers with more empathy and understanding of how horrible it feels if you cannot do what others do. And we would have provision that is more in line with the fact that when children are young they want to learn. It is some of the schools and teachers who in the end put them off to the point of making them fail.

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4 thoughts on “the despair dyslexia causes

  1. Really know the feeling of this! All the way threw primary and now three years into grammer school (aged 14), and I’v always strugled with the likes of reading, writting, spelling etc. But, becaose I have always been good at everything else, everyone has just asumed thats just the thing I’m bad at, and many teachers been queit pleased to have found sumthing I don’t accell at, rather than atempt to help me with it. But then they have to back bone to critisize it at parents evening. My modern foren langwages teacher was the worst. She spent 10 minutes complaining about my langwages grammer and spelling, to which i said: well, the day I can spell in english, I will let you know, and we can move onto French and Italian. Personaly, I don’t think the whole fault lies with the teaching staff though. Yes, it doesn’t help when they’re ignorant, but their no more perfect than we are, and we cant expect them all to know everything about anything! Saying that, I have come into a lot of strife for puting my foot down. After reading a lot of this site, and talking to varius dyslexics i know myself, I came to the conclushion that I should aproach the SENCO department at my school and ask them what they thought. This is, of corse, much simpeler when it actually exists! So I spoke to my english teacher, who said, and I quote: “I don’t see any dyslexic tendancys in your work, so it can’t be that. Your fine, wory about sumthing else.” In all honesty, I laughed! She insists that I tipe my essays, becaose by hand writting is ilegabl to anyone besdes me, and she gave up with trying to figur out what I was trying to spell. Also, I uzualy spend at leste ate hours on a essay, so its practicly flore less, with thanks to spell check! But thats never going to help in an exam, when I’d get about too and a half hours. So, I desided to make a bit of a nusance of myself, and I, in basic terms, hand wrote every one of my essays for a term and did my utmost best to irritate he, until she went to my head of year. It probly wasnt the best of aproches, but it worked. Eventialy my head of year got involved and told the teacher that she agread with me compleatly and that she should have given in a long time ago, and i’m due to take the test sometime after easter (along with the one for Irlens as well, just to keep the english teacher happy). But, I think that, if i had nown it wasn’t normal for me not to be able to do stuff like that, I would have been abel to say sumthing sooner. But now, a lot of teachers are asking if im going to re think my a level choices, to witch i laughed again! I’v always wanted to do academic subjects for a level (maths, english litriture, chemistry, history and sicology), and they suported me in that, but now everyone seems to dout me! I cant understand there mind set. I havnt changed, if anything its better that I know I’m not so good at stuff like that. But they all seem to think I’v changed. What suprises people the most is that I have a liking for classic and old books. Yes, I get really frustrated with them and have to read in 10 / 15 minute intrervals, and yes it takes me one hell of a long time, but I like them! arnt they happy that I try, rather then giving up? But, its always good to teach the teachers something for a change, as above, it does them good.

    • WOW! What an inspirational story, not to mention the fact that you took the trouble to write all this! What a champion you are! Well done you for fighting your corner. Isn’t it annoying that teachers assume that just because you find a subject difficult you would want to give up on it – you have true grit for continuing to confront your challenges. I’m a cynic perhaps in saying that some schools like students to do subjects which give them high grades because in the end, it looks good on their league tables! But I do know not all staff are only motivated by that, however I think you should stick to what you want to do and press on. In my experience I have noticed that one of the things about dyslexia is that really clever kids like you often struggle on and find such successful ways to cope with it which can often mask the symptoms, then, later on when work gets more complicated, they begin to hold you up. As you say, the time you need for research and writing is sometimes triple that which another student may need. If you’re confirmed dyslexic then you would be able to have more time in your exams.
      Here’s wishing you every success. Ross x

  2. Well said, but don’t forget the adults who have been through this and are now paying the price and have no one to turn to. Even some of the Disability Advisers at the Job Centre sometimes have the same attitude as these failing teachers and even participants of this site who have been filled with good intentions have been unable to fulfil their promises. I can only assume because they have been unindated and have had to prioritise their work. The children of today are very important, we need to make sure they don’t grow up to be damaged like the adults of today who fell through all the nets and now have to manage on their own.

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