Tuesday, June 21, 2016
DYSLEXIA AND ME
I am a voracious reader. It is rare that I am not in the process of reading one or more books. I even enjoy technical manuals and text books.
I had a hard time in school because I was a poor reader. I did not realize until later (actually in college) that I had struggled with dyslexia. I might read the word was as saw, often having to spell the word to identify it. Having to read word-for-word was excruciating and the meaning was often lost.
In high school I pulled excellent grades in algebra, geometry and the sciences but barely got by in literature and history. And yet, outside of school, from about the age of thirteen until I graduated, I read every issue of Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and Sports Afield; and practically memorized the U.S. Navy Survival Manual.
By the time I graduated high school I was compensating for my inability to read rote by reading context. I became very good at reading for content and found I could read very fast and with high recall.
I know this sounds strange; but when I look at a line of print I do not read word for word, but I read the sentence. I can digest a manual, a how-to book or a fiction or nonfiction book within a few reeds with good comprehension; but when I try to slow down and read aloud it comes out faltering.
My wife and I have often read together; most of the Stephen King books we shared – which means that she did most of the reading. When I would read to her it tended to drive her crazy, because if she was following along I would be skipping words, inserting words or abbreviating sentences; the meaning was there but the rhythm, the meter and the beauty of the sentence was missing.
In order to slow down I must run my finger along the line beneath each word. Especially when dealing with numbers I still follow my finger, otherwise 12345 may come out 12354. When reading poetry or Shakespeare I use my finger to slow down and sound each word in my head in order to hear the beauty of the writing.
I am not too sure that reading will be important in the future. Most technology now comes without manuals; how-to are now on video; cellphones and computers now talk to you; and the reading most of the young people do is in abbreviated form within 140 characters.
We may be near the last generation to read books, magazines and newspapers. Print, one day in the near future, may be considered arcane.