All the books I wish I’d read

I love to read, I do it for pleasure and there is nothing better than immersing yourself in a fictional world where you can create something really unique to your reading experiences. However, I have a tedious love, hate relationship with this pastime.

I recently moved house and had to pack up all my worldly possessions, including my books. I realised just how many I have and how many I haven’t managed to read yet.

Some of my books are well worn, as I have read and reread them time and time again, but there are some, where I have only managed a page or 2 before I gave up.

Reading for pleasure has not always been possible and while I want to read all the classics like all the Bronte sisters’ novels, 1984 and Tarzan to name but a few, I find the complex language and structure difficult to follow and digest and sometimes feel like I am missing out.

I was given sunset song as a core text for Higher English in high school and again when attempting Higher English as an open learning course, yet, I still have no idea what the book is about. Not only could I not follow the scots language that it was written in, I also had no chance of finishing it in the allotted time. So after reading it 3 times, I think it’s is about the industrial revolution… there is a chance I may be wrong!

I used to be jealous of those who enjoyed reading, I, unlike many of my colleagues and classmates never wanted to read in public places. Once, when on one of my sunset song attempts a colleague questioned why I had not finished reading the book yet, (I had been reading it at work every lunchtime for 2 weeks) I felt really embarrassed and it put me off, I stopped reading my book at lunch after that.

In my first job we used to have a book club of sorts, we would discuss the books we were reading at lunch and swap them when we were finished. However, after a while, when I was 4 books behind and running out of excuses, I started missing lunch with my friends as I didn’t want anyone to know how long it took me to read.

I have begun to get over my fear of being judged and learned to love reading for pleasure which is becoming allot easier now I have an explanation for my slow reading pace. Nevertheless, even now I need to get into a book right away, it needs to grip my attention and not let go before I will invest the time and effort it takes for me to read it. This has led to my collection of barely touched books of which there are been many, all in a pile to read when I have spare time!

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Beyond Words: What does it Mean?

Beyond the surface

Beyond the surface

There are many battles dyslexics face due to misconceptions about the condition.

I have to confess, that before I started volunteering with Dyslexia Scotland, I was one of the probable masses of people who think that dyslexia only affects literacy.

In truth, it’s so much more than that – which was what this year’s conference, that took place on Saturday, was trying to highlight.

Not only does dyslexia affect short term memory, but it also hinders time management, organisation and note-taking, and that’s just me talking in the most simple and broad of terms.

However,  it’s not just the difficulties that dyslexics face that are misreported.  All too often, having the disorder means that people are written off, when in fact it has been argued that because of the way the dyslexic brain works they are better than non-dyslexics at visualisation, seeing things as a whole and practical and creative tasks.

So not only is the full extent of the condition obscured, but the strengths that it is believed to create go unnoticed.

But it’s not even really about that.  Strengths.  Challenges.  Ultimately just abstract words.  It’s about seeing the person as a whole, for the individual they are.  So when we say beyond words, that’s what we’re talking about.  See the person, not merely a surmountable problem.

If – poems about Dyslexia

We have been sent these wonderful poems by a very talented lady and we think they sum things up very well.

We hope that you enjoy them half as much as we have.

If you can cope with amazing talent coupled with absolute inability,

And face both with the same attitude;

If you can trust your talent when all around you want to focus on your disability,

But understand the world turns on the printed word;

Or listen to misguided authority figures claim you are rubbish, but never pass the hate on,

And don’t get too big for your boots, nor use your verbal talents too much:

Yours will be achievement and self esteem

And what’s more you’ll be a Dyslexic, my child!

Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s “IF” poem 

If you can affect every brain cell, but make them work as one,

Or affect such a small part of life, but still be so disabling;

If you can be disarmed sometimes, but still resurge with such vigor,

If you allow for talent and ability to shine through, but never too easily;

If you can fill the everyday literate minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of stressed out panic,

Yours is my brain and most things in it,

And what’s more you are Dyslexia, my froe!

(froe; means friend/foe)

Lost in Translation

It was never my intention to write anything remotely like a sequel to my Lost for Words? blog, however it later occurred to me that, as a result of some dyslexics having trouble with sarcasm, tone of voice and phrases that are not meant to be taken literally, spoken English, particularly in the UK, can be as much of a minefield as written English.

Consider the table below:

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Furthermore, that is far from an exhaustive list, both in terms of phrases and their meanings.

For example, “You really need to consider…” followed by anything that concerns other people can be UK speak for “I think my opinion is better than yours but I’m too polite to say so.”

Any sentence starting with “I’d rather you didn’t…” means “you had better not” as opposed “just because X says they’d prefer if I didn’t do Y doesn’t mean I can’t.”

And beware of someone who describes a film as “interesting.”  It usually means they hated it.

Most people learn the oddities of UK polite speak (for lack of a better phrase) through experience, but given the tendency of some dyslexics to take what people say at face value, there is a danger that such situations could be lost on them.

Think about the large variety of circumstances that require social interaction, both with those we know and strangers, while remembering that dyslexia is a processing disorder where those with the condition can have just as much trouble interpreting the meaning behind spoken words as well as what is written down.

Now think of the potential consequences.

I remember “I would suggest” being a favourite phrase among university tutors.  In the context of academia, if a tutor suggests something, it’s usually to benefit of the student and their grades, so it gets done without a second thought.  But dyslexics just starting out on the University journey may not necessarily know that, as they may see it as exactly what it appears to be: a mere suggestion, and their grades could suffer as a result.

I’m sure “I’d rather you didn’t” has been the war-cry of parents of young people everywhere and teenagers have discovered the true meaning to their cost when the misinterpretation results in them being grounded.

And don’t get me started on the potential dangers of using “with all due respect” (or any variation thereof) in the workplace….

As dyslexics may have a bigger issue with navigating this battlefield than their non-dyslexic counterparts, it could be argued that if this particular part of the English language poses a problem for them, it should be taught in classrooms, especially as polite speak seems to be unique to the UK.

Better to teach children of the UK the idiosyncrasies of their native language at a young age, than for them to potentially remain ignorant and risk losing out and causing themselves unnecessary grief as they grow up.