Facebook and Literacy

Photo by mkhmarketing

Photo by mkhmarketing

According to recent research conducted by Booked, a magazine for UK schools, 70% of headteachers believe that Facebook and Twitter has adversely affected the literacy of young people.  To be fair to them, the examples that are used to back up this claim are not without merit:

“I wont to work wiv you’re  company.”

Another example the research cites is applicants deeming it appropriate to put xs (as in kisses) at the end of their applications when applying for jobs.

While the last example is something that is blatantly inappropriate, the first one throws up several interesting points.  Firstly “wont,” though outdated now, is an example of a word that is in itself correct, but lacking the right context, which would be something like the following:

It was Harry’s wont to go for a run before breakfast.

This is the case as wont is another word for habit, practice or custom.  Similarly, although “you’re” is correct when used as a contraction of you are, the company to which the person in the above sentence is referring will belong to someone and so your would be the correct word to use here.  Crucially, these are examples of two errors that would not be picked up by a spellchecker.

While some young people (actually people in general) may just use text speak to be lazy (something that “wiv” is but one example of), this research makes no mention of either the benefits literacy can attribute to social media or those who have genuine difficulties with spelling, reading and writing.

Given that literacy problems are such a big part of what it means to have dyslexia, it does the pupil/teacher relationship no favours when accusations of idleness are thrown about with no consideration for those that may have a significant and undeniable problem in this area through no fault of their own.  By not acknowledging people with dyslexia (or those that may be struggling on undiagnosed), such research risks stigmatising faultless young people.

Another error that was singled out was the difference between to, too, and two.  But there is also the difference between affect and effect, practice and practise, of and off, elicit and illicit, there, their and they’re…I could go on.  The point is, so much of the English language has two (or sometimes more!) words that sound the same and yet mean completely different things.  Therefore, not only can people with dyslexia have great difficulty learning to read, write and spell words, but they also sometimes encounter problems learning the correct context in which to use them.

The research made no allowances for simply being human either.  Yes, people should proof-read what they write and not rely on spellcheckers or other people to point inaccuracies out to them, but we all make mistakes, no-one can ever be perfect.  While I can understand the importance of presenting yourself in the best light when it comes to applying for jobs, why does an individual’s Facebook account have to be word perfect and grammatically sound 100% of the time?

As I have stated previously, nothing is mentioned with regards to technology advancing literacy.  Facebook now has a built-in spellchecker that will alert you to an error in the same way Microsoft Word does.  I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but being made aware of a mistake encourages me to correct it – to ensure I am easily understood by those with whom I am conversing if nothing else.  If Facebook does this, is it not a good thing?

What’s happening while that’s going on?  It could be anything at all; recommending great reads, finding an informative link, helping someone out with an academic quandary, offering a frustrated individual the chance to vent when things go wrong and a platform to shout from the rooftops when something great has happened.  I’ve seen all these things occur as a Facebook user, probably because it is the most accessible platform to use in order to say something to people we know en masse.  When this can be so much more problematic for individuals who have dyslexia, the last thing they need is for social media to be vilified.

It also seems a tad convenient to blame social media – a faceless entity that can’t answer back – for falling literacy standards when it is also considered that England is the only developed nation where children are deemed to be worse at mathematics and reading than their grandparents.  When such a bold and distressing claim is made, it is too simplistic to besmirch social media and not make other correlations.  What about the constantly changing curriculum?  A possible over-reliance on certain authors and texts?  Class sizes?  Teacher education and standards of teaching?

In short, while social media may have its faults, it is not fair to blame it for falling literacy standards without also acknowledging all the good it does.  Social media has its place in teaching literacy just as books do and there is no reason why they can’t harmoniously co-exist.

The article about the research in question can be found here:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2507642/Facebook-Twitter-harm-pupils-literacy-claim-headmasters.html

Advertisements

What Gaps Exist?

Following the recent news that Michael Morpurgo has written the first book in a series that is being published with the intention of making it easier for dyslexic parents to read to their children, I was surprised that, as the volunteer Resource Centre Manager for Dyslexia Scotland, I hadn’t realised that such a big gap in the market existed.  While it makes sense that everything that can be done to make reading easier for those who struggle with it should be, this is not something I had previously thought about.  In my defence, I’m neither dyslexic nor a parent and therefore had no reason to.

That having been said, it has caused me to ponder what other resources could be developed and used by dyslexics.  While I have seen books that explain what dyslexia is to children of various ages, for instance, I have seen none written from the point of view of a dyslexic parent.  Similarly, while there are books detailing how teachers can assist dyslexic pupils, as far as I’m aware there is nothing out there written from the perspective of a dyslexic teacher.

These are, of course, just two examples and it is probable that those who have experience of the condition can think of many more.  Getting back to the matter at hand, though, the fact that the idea for a series of books aimed at dyslexic parents and their children came about after Barrington Stoke were approached by a man who faced difficulty reading to his child poses an interesting point.  If something so worthwhile can occur through a simple conversation, what could a more frequent dialogue between dyslexics and official bodies, such as Government organisations and publishers to name but two, achieve?    On a related note in terms of resources, what would dyslexics like to see produced?  Given the gap that has been closed as a result of one man’s plight (although it is doubtless many other dyslexic parents will have also faced this issue) it stands to reason that many more barriers may well be overcome with open communication lines, which is why roundtable events, feedback and social media are so important – in giving dyslexics and those who help them a variety of ways to communicate you are not only making them feel more comfortable but giving them various ways in which to express themselves.  In doing so, a clearer idea is gained with regards to what support and resources dyslexics need.

In this instance, books that are accessible to dyslexic parents benefit more than just them and their children.  While it is true that they will improve the self-esteem of the parents and ensure that their children are not denied a love of books, reading and all the things that come with it (knowledge, empathy and a more imaginative mind were just three things that came into my head as I was writing), it benefits the wider world too.  For if dyslexics are given the ability to read to their children, does it not stand to reason that having this opportunity may make them want to overcome the difficulties they may face as a result of their dyslexia and become more productive in the workplace as a result of their improved literacy, for example?  Would being read to from a young age possibly make it easier and more enjoyable for youngsters to learn to read and consequently value education more?  While the definitive answers to these questions cannot ever be known, I cannot see a negative outcome to such a worthwhile endeavour.  Let’s hope Michael’s book, called All I Said Was, is the start of a new phenomenon: parents having a way in which to read to their children without being hindered by dyslexia.

All I Said Was by Michael Morpurgo and Itch, Scritch, Scratch by Eleanor Updale, books that have been created to enable dyslexic parents to read to their children, will be published in March 2014 by Barrington Stoke.

Reading Snobbery

A friend of mine was having a rant on Facebook last night because someone who was a complete stranger to her had taken it upon themselves to berate her for reading a gossip magazine (you know, something like Hello! or Closer).  It wasn’t as simple as decrying her choice of reading either; the individual made the assumption that as she was reading such a thing, she had to have issues with confidence and self-image, so I get the impression the discussion got quite personal.

Although my first thought was the obvious one of “Who do people think they are to make such aspersions about total strangers?” it later got me thinking about how dyslexics might feel should a similar situation happen to them and what the potential consequences of such an occurrence might be.

When an individual makes a disparaging remark, no thought is given to the circumstances of the recipient of the disdainful comment, or what such words might cause them to internalise, regardless of whether or not there is any substance to the both what was said or the subsequent thoughts the receiver might have in relation to it.  While some people might say it’s easier to live by the adage of if you haven’t anything nice to say don’t say anything at all, it isn’t always as simple as that.

In the instance of grouping children by reading ability, they quickly learn who are deemed the struggling readers, by the size of the lowest set of nothing else – because lower ability groups need to be smaller so that the children who need the extra support get it.  But still, I remember being appalled and hurt when a child (by this point someone old enough to know better than to say such a thing) felt the need to tell me that we would be reading better and harder books were it not for me – I later moved from the bottom to the top reading stream so her nastiness was just that and her comment bore no weight in the long run – but even in primary school children are taught to associate certain types of books – those that are shorter in length, for example – with a decreased level of intelligence.

Why does this have to be the case?  As has been proven countless times dyslexics can be whoever they want to be – I certainly didn’t know Jamie Oliver and Keira Knightly (to name but two) were dyslexic before I started volunteering here.  That being said, when book snobbery begins in primary schools, why is it a surprise that it is rife among the British general public?  Why do popular book series’ that appeal to the young and older people alike, such as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, have to have separate covers for children and adults?  If you enjoy reading, it shouldn’t matter how the content is dressed up, whether it be a front cover of a book or the medium within which the book is contained, whether it’s a gossip magazine, an audio book or an encyclopaedia.

Nor should the content of your preferred reading material be judged.  Although I don’t read an awful lot of it personally, chick lit such as the recently released Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy gets an awful lot of bad press.  Actually, it’s more that the women that choose to read them sometimes get seen as having nothing between the ears, because it’s not seen as intellectual.  At the opposite end of the scale, science fiction and fantasy fans are seen as nerds, and those that prefer books thought of as high brow classics – I’m thinking along the lines of Jane Austen here –  could be deemed old-fashioned.  My point is, everyone has different interests, the same way that people have different levels of proficiency with regards to reading.  As a result, no-one should be condemned because of their personal tastes or abilities.  The consequences of having something as inconsequential as what a person chooses to read being belittled and mocked could be far-reaching, not only affecting their educational development and self-esteem, but ultimately their willingness and ability to reach their full potential.

While I don’t think anyone would argue with me about the fact that reading snobbery needs to be combated, less clear is how this should be done, although educational intervention is key to change societal attitudes.  I’m not saying that setting by ability needs to be eradicated, that does have its place as they can be of great benefit to children.  However, it still needs to be made clear that along with the support that these teaching methodologies provide, children also need to be taught that life is about more than being put in a particular group or being given a specific label.  It’s about making the correct choices for yourself so you can aspire to be exactly what you want to be and nobody has the right to make anyone – child or adult, dyslexic or non-dyslexic, feel as if they cannot achieve that because of what they choose to read.

Perspective

A wonderful blog by doreenjank.

I have just seen “The Big Picture” documentary film; which reminded me of how important different viewpoints, understanding and perspectives of a learning difference can be. I don’t want to say anymore as I would like you to watch the film; and not just take away my interpretation.

Also whilst volunteering in the office I realised why I always made mistakes (as a child) with the small functional words when reading (which had my parents pulling their hair out). I heard the following description of dyslexia. Dyslexics can’t make mental pictures of the functional words in the same way as they can with a word like ‘car’. And that dyslexics don’t have the innate skills to learn to read (i.e. associating sounds with letters).

 Perspective

*Everyone has their own

    Influenced by:-

        > Emotional intelligence

        > Up bringing

        > Present environment (both home and work)

        > Education

        > Abilities/inabilities and their perception of these (which in turn may be influenced by others views about how valuable their talents are).

        > Physical health

        > Understanding of others

        > Willingness to learn/listen

        > Ability/willingness to use imagination. How much reflective thought one engages in.

 Use/misuse of perspective within teamwork 

*  A team can achieve almost anything, if there are enough different viewpoints; but each individual must be able to relinquish at least some of their opinion to allow for others to be incorporated.

* Each individual must be respected enough (but not too much) for their views to be heard and considered.

* People must achieve, the extremely difficult task of listening/understanding and co-operating with others views (into a larger plan): whilst also being able to articulate their own views in a way, that each individual (or at least the majority of the people) in the group can comprehend.

 Given all that has been said above how-on-earth can anyone (or even a group of people) create a single resource that everyone will find useful. I’ve been thinking about this; since I saw that there was to be round table event, to discuss the creation of a adult toolkit, on the Dyslexia Scotland’s Facebook page (which is extremely interesting and has right up-to-date info).

Some people really relate to words and others to pictures/symbols; what works for one individual may not work  for others (even for those within the group of individuals who have been labelled as dyslexic). Even within the category of those who relate to a picture/symbol there may be different reactions to the same icon, and individuals may even interpret the meaning differently. The english language and its usage (along with many other languages, I’m sure) is living and evolving so much that all but the most basic functional words like: a, the and at are subject to different interpretations (either wider or narrower than any dictionary definition, which themselves may not entirely agree). Once (or if) a toolkit (for example) has been created how can everyone in a country, region or place be made aware of its existence. We have a wonderful choice of media these days, how could any one advert , cover them all. And if that’s not enough colour-schemes are likely to be beyond contentious.

 But then again where would we be if none of us had any perspective!!!    

‘Think Differently’

Dyslexia isn’t the obvious inspiration point for a collection of interior fabrics, yet for our final degree project we were encouraged to choose a subject close to our hearts, and learning how to support our daughter through school with dyslexia remains exactly that.

‘Think Differently’ was my title, reflecting both how a dyslexic mind operates and to encourage a wider viewpoint regarding dyslexia in general.  I wanted my collection to stand alone aesthetically, yet dig a bit deeper and the designs tell a story.

Dyslexia Scotland was an obvious starting point for my research, as well as many other inspirational organisations all working to promote a similar message.  Visual research and developments naturally started with imagery such as the brain and brain cells, yet 6 weeks into a 16 week project I was going nowhere, until, I too started ‘thinking differently’ about my approach.  Revisiting my research I started to develop abstract visuals representing the 1:10 known to be dyslexic and thankfully the creativity began.  The next ‘eureka’ moment came in week 8 after watching ‘The Big Picture – Rethinking Dyslexia’, screened by Creative Stirling and Dyslexia Scotland. One comment, ‘crack the code’, immediately conjured up one of my 1:10 designs featuring dots and dashes and I couldn’t wait to get home and write ‘dyslexia’ in Morse Code.

After experimenting with various Morse Code ‘messages’ regarding dyslexia I chose to have a design which told both sides of the story.  The negative design read ‘dyslexia – a learning disability’ and the positive design read ‘dyslexia – a gift in life’, and so it grew from there.

Colour is all important and having researched the psychology of colour I adopted strong lime greens, and oranges which represent energy, enthusiasm and excitement; emotions I felt strongly that anyone with dyslexia who can crack their own code can enjoy. The choice of grey was a ‘happy accident’ – discovered when I quickly printed off some design ideas in black and white in the absence of a colour printer and it was decided that soft grey provided a good contrast. Unusual colours for anyone’s home I agree, although a final degree project is thankfully a chance to choose ‘concept’ over ‘commercial’.

I continued to develop designs that featured the Morse Code and 1:10 concepts and after many developments and samples I eventually settled on 4 designs I was ready to get digitally printed, leaving me to work on the designs I wanted to hand screen print.  At the same time I was learning how to screen print, navigate Photoshop and also sourcing furniture, fabrics, paints, dyes to create the final collection and equally thinking how I was going present my designs in the context of the interiors market.

The final deadline loomed and it was done, a curtain panel featuring a hand screen printed design embellished with hand embroidery accenting the morse code message, 2 digitally printed upholstered chairs, a hand printed side table and 4 cushion designs featuring both digital and hand printed designs with various stitch embellishments.  I was delighted with how the collection developed and how well it was received, and even more delighted to get a pass with distinction.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All images and designs : © Caron Ironside 2013 All rights reserved

What will I do now?

When I left school, I literally had no idea what I was going to do. When I was growing up, I wanted to do everything, be a writer, a singer, an actress, an artist and for a while I wrote poems, but, the longest standing aspiration was a fashion designer.

I began school well, but soon, my difficulties crept in and I went from doing well, to near bottom of the class. I never really understood why and neither, it seemed did my teachers.

Now I am not work shy and I worked my @*£ off to try and be the best that I could be, but, I never got there. Often my reports said …. is a lovely child to have in class, but they always said the same thing, not trying hard enough, could do better etc etc, all I wanted to scream was ‘ I am, I try really hard’

By the time I got to standard grade I had something to prove, I wanted to show everyone that I was trying hard enough, so in my 3rd year mock exams, I studied really hard and actually got reasonable grades. However, by the time it got to my 4th year mocks my grades were shocking and the teachers began to write me off. This made me all the more determined to do well in the actual exams so I got my head down and did not too badly.

I was determined to stay until 6 year at school and attempt to get some highers, I loved art and wanted to go on to study to be a fashion designer but after missing out on higher art due to written work I began to give up on the idea. I tried again in 6th year to get some highers: English and Advanced Higher Art (I was able to take it even although I failed my higher, due to artistic ability). Nevertheless pressure from the school to leave because it would be beneficial to me and still having no support to address my issues I left school with no highers and a conclusion that I was not the academic type!!

I went to work in an office after school, I had no real idea what I wanted to do, but, I thought getting some administration skills under my belt could help. My first job proved fruitful and after a year of working as an office junior I moved up within the organisation to a position that offered career prospects. However, I was never really settled and wanted more.

After working for a while in a few different jobs, I made the decision to try and get back into education; I wanted to do something that I really enjoyed. I applied to college to do a foundation course in fashion design with a view to going on to study fashion Marketing.

Then, I found out I was pregnant and as fashion is a difficult industry to work in with no guarantee of jobs, I knew I needed to do something else. When my little one was 5 months old I applied to college to do a course in communications, I combined all of my passions and all the things I was good at and found something that fitted me really well.

College was like a breath of fresh air and I applied the same work ethic as I had always tried in school, the difference was, I had the support that I needed and the tutors took the time to explain the concepts and ideas in a way that suited your learning style. I found myself helping my classmates to understand, ensuring that no one fell behind and for the first time I was doing well, this was a fantastic feeling.

Don’t get me wrong it was hard; I was studying full time, with my difficulties and a baby to look after, there were tears, late nights and times when I wanted to give up, but I had a clear goal in mind and would do anything to achieve it. After 2 years and 2 good qualifications, I was given an unconditional offer to university.

I honestly thought I would never see the day, me at university…. there must be some mistake! I was so happy.

I went immediately to the learning support when I started, to see what help I could get. I knew that I could do better than I did at school and my grades at college proved that. As college did not require much essay writing and the course was continually assessed with a practical project at the end instead of exams, I knew that University was going to be a whole different ball game.

I was assessed and identified as dyslexic; I was given an education package which listed all the help I was going to get and University, while no walk in the park was a complete eye opener. I loved it and came out at the other side tireder, older and with a slightly different take on the world. However, I had some fantastic experiences; I was much smarter and more socially conscious. I now have a good understanding that I could do anything that I put my mind to and a really good mark in an amazing honours degree to prove it.

I am so glad that I didn’t listen to myself when I thought I was ‘not the academic type’, determination and a willingness to succeed was the most important thing for me, it was not that I couldn’t learn it was that I was not being taught right.

This is what I tell everyone one who needs to hear it. Don’t give up, whether it’s is educational, vocational or just in general the world is your oyster, it’s all about finding the thing that spurs you on.

There is no one size fits all approach to learning and because you don’t excel in one way doesn’t mean you will never get to where you want to be. Even if you don’t get everything you hoped for when you leave school, there are options available to you. It may take you a little longer than your peers to get there, but in the end it is the journey and what you learn along the way that really counts.

Let your inner star shine

Let your inner star shine

What’s your experience? Has your school experience made you think you can’t achieve something?

Life Skills Learned at University

While it is true that University is not for everyone and that those with dyslexia will find it more difficult than those that don’t have the condition, I don’t think enough is made of the invaluable life skills a university education can teach you, particularly in light of some of the problems dyslexics are known to experience.  Given recent research, (ironically published by Disney to mark the release of Monsters University) that compiled a list of fifty life skills that University teaches people, the benefits are clear, as can be seen from the list below:


BUDGETS, BOLOGNESE AND BLAGGING: THE 50 LIFE SKILLS LEARNED AT UNI

1.             Budgeting and prioritising 26.          Writing footnotes
2.             Living with others 27.          Looking for a job
3.             Doing a weekly food shop 28.          Setting up the internet
4.             Paying bills 29.          Blagging essays
5.             Studying independently 30.          Being a good team player
6.             Managing money 31.          That fridges don’t clean themselves
7.             Making friends 32.          Using fridge space effectively
8.             Navigate your way around 33.          Making sure the house is locked
9.             House / flat hunting 34.          Playing pool / pub games
10.          Socialising with all sorts of people 35.          Saving energy
11.          Registering at the doctor or dentist 36.          Blagging ‘group discussions’
12.          Turning up to lectures at the right time 37.          Getting to lectures off campus
13.          Appreciating home 38.          Using top up gas or electric key
14.          Supermarket shopping 39.          General DIY
15.          Coping without mum and dad 40.          How to use the bus
16.          Skim reading long books 41.          Setting up a television
17.          Pulling an all-night study session 42.          Which dishes aren’t microwaveable
18.          Being considerate to housemates 43.          Sorting out the boiler
19.          Using a washing machine 44.          Sorting recycling
20.          Going three nights with no sleep 45.          Building flat-pack furniture
21.          Making spaghetti Bolognese 46.          Making scrambled egg
22.          Using the library 47.          Fire safety
23.          Socialising in big groups 48.          How to re-use takeaway containers
24.          Cleaning 49.          How to turn on the cooker or grill
25.          The effectiveness of a good nap 50.          You can’t eat mould

Source: www. dailymail.co.uk

While some of these so-called skills are merely common sense (is it not obvious eating mould is a bad idea?), others are invaluable lessons that help people in their daily lives.  Learning to be a team player, for example, means that in the world of employment you are not going to struggle to work as part of a team.  It is also true that you don’t have to go to University in order to gain knowledge about the things on the above list, and indeed can and should learn them in other circumstances.

However, University, due to the nature of academic institutions and often there distance from family, means that it is uniquely placed to embed some of the more practical and work-orientated aspects of the list into the skill-set of participants.  Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to ask for a bit of parental help when faced with problems in their flat, whether those concern cooking, the washing machine or some other calamity that seems like the end of the world at the time?  And while socialising with different kinds of people does not seem to be a hardship to most people, it might be that things like learning to skim read, timekeeping and prioritising tasks are arduous things for someone with dyslexia.

Whatever the specific issues an individual with dyslexia encounters, there is one thing University guarantees, particularly for those who choose to live away from home: you are forced to be independent like you never have been before and potentially face demons that you would not have been given the chance to face so completely were it not for the University environment.  Although it’s scary, it’s also liberating (once you get over the fear).

While it isn’t for everyone, there is no denying that it is a very particular situation, given the focus placed on independent study and self-reliance in general.  At home, you have parents or guardians, while at school you have teachers and in the workplace colleagues who are on hand should any problems arise.  Conversely, within the structure of the University environment, you are essentially on your own unless otherwise directed, be it by a lecturer or to a seminar.  But I think that needs to be embraced.  Because with self-reliance comes resilience, the likes of which I believe you cannot know unless you are forced to stand on your own two feet.  In my opinion at least, nothing forces you to do that like University does.

Dyslexia and parenthood

A wonderful Insight in to dyslexia and parenthood from Julie McNeil, wife of Paul McNeil  one of our fantastic ambassadors

Books, reading, developing your child’s imagination and sense of creativity were about as fundamental to my approach in parenting as things come.

Paul, my husband who is Dyslexic, embraced this and we both read to our son Shea from a very young age – weeks old.

It is no surprise then that some of his first words were lines from his favourite stories and his language skills were pretty advanced for his age.

Unsurprisingly, for as long as I can remember he has loved books.

As he got older Paul would build dens (Dad’s dens were always better than Mum’s apparently) and the two of them would read together inside.
Shea loved the way his dad told stories as he was so animated and always added a sense of excitement or drama to the story.

I loved seeing his eyes light up and his imagination growing day by day. He loved to act out things he had heard about in books.

As Shea got older and was trying to understand his world he would often ask adults to “tell (him) a story about” this was Shea’s way of asking adults to explain something he didn’t understand.

Shea is all about the questions.

Laterally, Shea started pre school. The stories have moved on. The words are harder.

The other night when I was reading to him before bed he said “no mummy it’s Mr Kark not Krank, you always read it wrong. Daddy knows his name” now, I know it’s “Krank” but I am caught between wanting to read the right words to my young impressionable son and a real sense of loyalty and protectiveness towards my husband. For some reason I don’t want Shea to know his dad struggles with words…. I am not sure why. I know that day will come very soon where Shea will understand that adults struggle too. We don’t know everything, we are not always right and we all have our own difficulties/ disabilities or just things we struggle with in life. But to Shea at 3 we still have all the answers.

Paul is our hero. He never shies away from the difficulties he faces. I hear him spelling out words and learning about phonics because he knows it is important to Shea and he knows it’s important to me. I also appreciate how exhausting it must be for him.

Reading will always be something I value and something I will encourage in both my children but what Paul has shown me first hand is that passion, imagination and time are what lights the fire in children.

Shea begs his dad to take him to bed when he is home early enough from work because Paul tells him “a story in my mouth” instead of a book. You see Paul’s imagination is second to none (in fact second only to Shea’s) and is a very hard act for a Mum with a pile of Julia Donaldson stories to follow.

It’s funny how I thought it would be my role to encourage reading, imagination and creativity in my children when Paul and his amazing, wonderful, creative, Dyslexic brain surprises and amazes me once again.

I know things will get harder for Paul as the children grow and, who knows, maybe the children will be dyslexic too. What I do know is that the skills that Paul has had to develop to cope with his Dyslexia (creativity/ adaptability/ thinking on your feet) mean that Paul was much better prepared for the challenges of parenthood and it is a joy to see Shea lapping it up!!

20130412_151812_1

At what point do children become aware that mummy/ daddy are dyslexic and how should you to talk to them about it? And are there any useful books/resources to help them understand?

Dreams, what are your dreams?

Another fantastic poem from our wonderful poet , can you find the hidden word?
Dreams, what are your dreams?
My dreams (which may be the dreams of all Dyslexics) are:
Younder; my true potential is younder!
I am forever reaching for that place where my true self shines out of me (its just beyond my reach)!
Surprise out pops the serpent, that is Dyslexia. This serpent always comes as such a surprise,
because my Dyslexic brain thinks such deep and profound thoughts.
However this print society disables me because it places such value on the written word!
Lies such lies my brain continually tells me.
My brain (and the serpent within) collects all the things others believe and say about me.
And it loves to remind me of them. My inner voice whispers other people’s words back to me.
Extremes: I lives in a world of extremes. A world where I manage to achieve such amazing awards (in the face of Dyslexia):
only to turn around (and try) to use my skills in the real world and suddenly the Dyslexia monster rears its ugly and awful head and I experience astonishing and devastating failures.
X should be one of the least used letters in the English language.
But X is a mark that most Dyslexics know only too well!
Intense is what many people call me.
Intense is what I often feel.
Intense is how the world (and especially that of employment) all too often feels.
A-1-OK is how I’d love to be and feel.
A-1-OK is what I am striving for.
A-1-OK are the marks I’d love to get (and to have achieved).
I believe we should all try to take the A-1-OK approach to life and its variance.
A-1-OK is how I’d like the world to think about learning and thinking differences.


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!