When I was in primary school, my new teacher asked everyone in the class to tell him something they thought he should know about them. I remember that I wrote something along the lines of, “If I’m staring into space, don’t stop me – I’m thinking up stories or imagining.” That’s not very surprising for someone who went on to be an author, but I didn’t realise at the time that it was probably a sign of dyslexia, too. I wasn’t identified for many years after that, but a tendency to daydream or ‘zone out’ is more common for dyslexics. Often, we don’t even realise we’re doing it, and can completely lose track of time!
There are other things that can be signs of dyslexia that people wouldn’t normally think of. Most people know that dyslexia affects reading and writing, but there are signs that have nothing to do with the written word.
Take memory, for instance. If you’re clued up on dyslexia you probably know that it can affect the memory. However, a lot of people don’t realise that the effect isn’t necessarily negative. A poor short-term memory is pretty common for dyslexics, but so is an unusually good long-term memory. Dyslexics often have a worse-than-average ability to remember names – but a better-than-average recall of faces. If you struggle to remember what you had for lunch, but you can still remember your lines from your school play, it could be thanks to dyslexia.
Emotional sensitivity is another feature that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with dyslexia. To be fair, this is probably a result of the challenges of living with dyslexia. By the time children (or adults) get help, they have often dealt with a lot of frustration and disappointment caused by something they didn’t understand. This can make them more sensitive for the rest of their lives. Again, it’s not necessarily bad news. Being more sensitive can make you more responsive and empathetic to other people. And it’s handy for an author, too!
Not all dyslexics will identify with all, or any, of these aspects of dyslexia; it’s a broad spectrum, and it affects everyone differently. But next time you arrive late for an appointment because your mind slipped through a black hole into the past or the future, don’t beat yourself up – it might just be your dyslexia!
Karen Murdarasi, Guest Blogger