Monday, April 12, 2010

Listen Up - Part 1

Even though this is supposed to be a blog about dyslexia, it seems to mainly be a blog about all the books I read. That may seem odd, after all dyslexic’s aren’t supposed to read. But I am very good at listening, and often listen to five or six audio books per week. I’ve mentioned listening and audio books in past posts. But I’ve never really blogged in detail about the act of listening. This is mainly because I have a lot to say on the subject. So I’ve decided to dedicate this entire week to the topic of listening. Here we go…

I am a very audiotory person. The things I hear have a much larger impact on my thinking and understanding than the things I see. Sometimes, I almost feel blind. Not that I can’t see. But that I hear like a blind person. I see things with my ears. To me, noises matter – a lot. This isn’t because I have vission problems. I am nearsited, but wearing glasses has never felt like a dysablity, it’s more of an excessory. No, my sensitivity to sound is definitely linked to my late onset literacy.

If I had learned how to read when I was six like a normal person, I would have developed normal listening habits. But I didn’t learn how to read in first grade. And when all my friends were busy memorizing their ABC’s, I was busy memorizing absolutely everything I heard. I was so desprate to stay afloat without reading, that I forced my ears into overdrive. Now as a fully literate adult, that can and does read on a regular basis, I’m still incapable of turning off my ears.

I was diacnosed with dyslexia at the beginning of third grade. This may sound relatively early, many people make it into high school or even adulthood before getting diacnosed. But I’m actually amazed that I tricked people for that long. My older brother was also diacnosed at the beginning of third grade (when I was just starting first grade). At the time, my parents were told that dyslexia is genetic and there was a very good chance their daughter was also dyslexic.

So what do I remember about the beginning of first grade? I remember all the discussions about whether or not I should skip straight to second. NOBODY knew that I couldn’t read. My father, brother, and several extended family members are all dyslexic. Dyslexia was on everyones raydar. And I had them all fooled into thinking I was some kind of child prodigy or something. It’s so crazy, I often find myself questioning my own memories.

But this is one thing I do remember. I always listened very carefully. I listened to everything, but especially books. My mom read me a lot of stories as a kid, and I memorized all of them. I didn’t just know the words. I knew when to turn the pages, and even how fast to track my finger across the squiggly lines. So why couldn’t I properly identify all 26 letters in the alphabet at the start of third grade?

This is another thing I remember. I didn’t want anyone to know. Now, it seems like admitting to my kindergarden and first grade teachers that I couldn’t understand anything they were saying would have been a good idea. But back then, my inability to read was my deepest darkest secret. I had to fake it. I had to keep the myth alive. I had to let everyone believe that I could read. And the only way to do that, was to listen. So I did. I listened so hard and so long that I couldn’t stop. It’s no wonder I listened to eight audio books last week. But more about that tommorrow.

Joke of the Day

A biology teacher begins his lecture, "Today we are going to talk about DNA."

A dyslexic student in the second row gets a confused look on his face. The teacher notices his expression and asks, "Jimmy, do you have a question?"

"No," says the student. "I just can't figure out what the National Dyslexia Association has to do with biology."

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