While I was finishing up projects at St. Stephen UMC, I began to think about all the spare time I would have to fill once I retired. This seemed like a great opportunity to do something I have wanted to do for years — read the Classics.
When I was in high school, I had trouble reading (and my math was even worse). The teachers tried to get me to read the Classics they assigned, but by my sophomore year, the English department pretty much gave up on me. When I graduated in 1968, I had a 2.7 reading level. In other words, I could not read. In those days we did not have standardized tests that show whether we were ready for the next grade or not. By the time I got to 12th grade, I was socially promoted to graduation.
In those days, the education system did not know about dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to read and do math. I had one high school math teacher who worked very hard trying to find a way for me to learn. He would say to me, “I don’t understand how you can work so hard and still not get the right answer.” It wasn’t that I did not understand (because I knew the formulas forwards and backwards), it was — in his word — “stupid mistakes.” For example: 8-5 was always a 1. What I saw was 3-2 = 1. Or 8-6 was -6. because I saw 3-9= -6. My 8s were 3s. My 5s were 2s. My 9s were 6s.
My words would rise and float. Sometimes the letters would disappear or move around. When I was (am) under stress (like at exam time), I may not understand what the question was asking. I hate (strong word – but true) multiple choose questions. Sometimes I would skip the question and go onto the next question. Then I would go back to the unanswered question. This time the question would say something different and the answer choices made no sense.
By the time I went to college, I was 32 and learned some ways to work through my “reading/math problems.” I did go to a college psychologist who tested me. What do you know; I am dyslexic. She explained to me that a person who has dyslexia does not always see the written word or number like everyone else. She said that my brain and eye connection does not always work. It’s like a lamp with a bad connections. Sometimes the connection is on and sometimes it’s off.
My words are still rising and floating; disappearing, reappearing; numbers get turned upside down and right side up. In the blink of an eye what I see changes, and the issue is that I do not know when it is happening; but it sure makes reading/math more interesting.
Reading and understanding what I read is really important to me. It’s a great challenge every time I open a new book. But the challenge is a fun puzzle to unravel. I have a lot of books to read; so I am curling up with a new book in just a few minutes. And in the blink of an eye a new world of literature is open to us all! Support and visit your local library. There’s a book waiting for you!
Today, do something that challenges you, Linda