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Why, it’s me! Actually, I don’t just have dyslexia, but also pattern-triggered functional agraphia. That is, when I hand-write certain combinations of letters, the activation patterns it sets up in my brain cause a temporary loss of the ability to read and write, which can last from a minute or two, up to about a quarter of an hour.

For the latter, well, I don’t hand-write anymore – except in crudely-formed block letters – I’ve been typing since I was four years old. For the dyslexia, though, I employ a different strategy.

No, I don’t spell-check my text. I do proofread it, but it rarely requires any lexical or syntactical correction.

How? Why?

The answer is neuroplasticity and effort. Dyslexia is, unfortunately, something of a self-feeding cycle.

I read and I read and I read and I read, and I write and I write and I write and I write. I always have.

If you have dyslexia, one or both of these things can be hard. Frustratingly, hair-pullingly, freakishly hard.

But the brain learns and organises. You’ve got billions of interneurons tweaking and adjusting the flow of signals through your brain, matching inputs to outputs, comparing actual function to correct function.

The more you are exposed to good, correct English (insert your native-language of choice here), and the more you produce of it, the more readily your brain produces the correct pathways and routes impulses and neurotransmitters to make that happen.

But you’ve got to want it and you’ve got to do it. Nobody can make you less dyslexic by pushing you to read and write large quantities of scrupulous English. Only you can do that, and you probably don’t want to because it’s so frigging hard! That’s the self-feeding cycle part right there. Most dyslexics don’t even really try, because they believe dyslexia to be a form of incapacity.

Dyslexia is a handicap, it isn’t an incapacity. Like any handicap, it means you’ve got to work harder to get to where everyone else is. If it was an incapacity, you’d never be able to get there at all.

To pull a simile out of the hat, it’s a bit like missing one arm. Put the work in and you’ll be rolling cigarettes, and rock-climbing so readily, that you’ll barely even notice it eventually. However, nobody can make you do the work to acquire that facility.

The first couple of decades kind of suck a bit, but I imagine it is much the same for athletes training for the Olympics. A lot of effort before you really start seeing the kind of genuine gains that you’re after.

I was dyslexic. I still am – a little – but you’d hardly notice… you’ve probably never noticed. Jumbled up words and letters get corrected before the signals get to my fingers. Admittedly, if you aren’t a good speller, I still have a lot of difficulty understanding what the heck you’re writing about, but I’m sure you can get better with practice. Most of you probably don’t have as far to go as I did.

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Categories: Health, Opinion.

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