(I just spelt dysgraphia wrong in the title!)
Have you ever had a moment in your life when something just doesn’t feel right when it comes to reading and writing? Have you ever worked your butt of to only gain mediocre results? Have you ever wondered if you’re just stupid and there is no point in trying? That is pretty much how everyone feels at a certain point whether it be school, uni, work or just life in general. For me it’s an ongoing battle.
For some people who may not know what dysgraphia is the best way to describe it is the opposite of dyslexia. Dyslexia involves issues with reading, the words jumbling up and not processing correctly. Dysgraphia for me comes in the form that I can read something, it gets muddled up while I process it in my head and utter nonsense can come out if I try to write something down. Its main definition; the inability to write coherently, which I think sometime we all do. However, for me it is an never ending issue.
How did I work out what was going on? Well I’ve pretty much sucked at spelling my whole life. I have dyslexic tendencies where the letters jumble up and I skip words or make up my own when reading. It takes me a lot longer to get the jist of something complicated but once its in, its in. I worked in a call centre where I had to read out loud from a screen. This is my worst nightmare. I can perform a prepared speech but reading out loud just frustrates the hell out of me. First year of uni, I went to the disabilities department to get tested. They only tested for dyslexia, not for the whole range of different types of learning issues. I was not severely dyslexic so I wouldn’t say I was sent packing but I wasn’t offered any solutions to my learning problems.
I moved to another uni and for three more years, I worked and worked, way more hours on stupid things. Sometimes way more than anyone else and scored an average of C grades no matter how much effort I put in. My dissertation I worked so hard on and got another C and further more it was a low C. I was pissed off but my adviser walked me through what happened. There were huge errors in it I couldn’t see until it was pointed out to me and he told me I should get tested again. I went to the disabilities department at my new uni and they did a fifteen-minute broader test and dyspraxia was highlighted.
Just after my 22nd birthday I had a meeting with an educational psychiatrist and he tested me for everything. Tests like jigsaws, reasoning and verbal comprehension were easy. But writing quickly, processing and visual stress were highlighted. I scored in the top 92nd percentile for intelligence for my age group and bottom 8th percentile for processing in my age group. So, this test confirmed I was mildly dyslexic hence the jumbled-up words when reading and moderately to severely dysgraphic which took into account the utter nonsense that can come out of my head. But finally, I had a diagnosis 18 years since starting school! The psychiatrist was highly impressed that I had made it through seven years’ worth of exams and gotten so far with my difficulties.
So, I stayed at uni for an extra year. I was given extra time in my exams and had them printed on yellow paper which helped my visual distress. I got a proof reader for my essays who I didn’t really use as we did lab reports. I couldn’t be penalised for spelling or grammar when the meaning was clear. I got a tonne of software including Kyle my reading software who reads things out loud to me so I can edit my work. If I forget my headphones, he drives everyone crazy. I got a recording pen, a mad printing budget and this computer all for free off the Scottish Government on top of my free education. Not only that my grades shot up to Bs for the rest of the year.
I want to try and describe what it’s like for me with dysgraphia. I will read something and it will just jumble up and I need a few minutes sometimes or to write something out to get it. I cannot read directly out loud, I had to do a presentation from slides and the whole time I was just squinting at the screen muttering to myself close to tears. I have had kids ask me to read a book to them and I get stressed and refuse to do it. When I want to write something down for an essay or ideas, I need note books to jot all the ideas down. Its like my brain is a colander and all this information is waiting to come out but only little bits get through the holes and they are often mixed up and wonky. It can vary in intensity; if I am tired or stressed it is a whole lot worse.
There are a few times when it is pretty hilarious when you get words mixed up. I was paired with a dyslexic friend for an assignment and the write up we made each other worse by debating spelling of different words that didn’t look right. Even google didn’t know what we were asking. Thank god for Siri who can spell things out. The poor marker who had to review that one, he had the patience of a saint. I have moments where I will completely misread my schedule and mess up my day. There are also times when two letters subtly switch and words like nicest become incest. Which you can imagine can make a sentence go in the opposite direction to what you want. My friend is training to be a psychotherapist which I remember to spell by expanding it as psycho the rapist and she loves being called that phonetically out loud. Plus no one can read my hand writing which meant no one could copy off me in tests!!
When it comes to waitressing, if its busy, I am sorry but something is going to go wrong with your order. I haven’t worked anywhere nice in my waitressing history and the management have been awful. So, I will get an order and put it in, I had to do it slowly to get it right. No one can interrupt me which doesn’t help with Demandy-Mandy entitled customers clicking their fingers at you. To make it worse if you ask me what is happening, I blank, every single time and look like an idiot. To top it off, my dysgraphia is a hundred times worse when I have to take my antihistamine because it dopes me up and I cannot sleep.
However, there are strengths to having dysgraphia. I have an incredible memory. I remember insane details and facts about things that have gone on. I have relearned a lot of school subjects for work and I can recite the entire course without opening a book. My maths skills are insane but I do not want to tackle advanced higher any time soon. So, when it comes to interviews, I have a lot of skills to cover both in strengths and weaknesses. I know the signs and I have helped teenagers get tested and get help when the same school which let me down was still letting the students down as well.
A lot of people have never heard of dysgraphia. It’s either your dyslexic (which I just spelt wrong) or nothing. There is no in-between or anything else but this is changing. I was travelling in Italy and the girl I shared a room with blatantly told the guy she was hanging out with that she was dysgraphic whichshe explained meant she couldn’t do maths. I was like mate, you are not unless you have been diagnosed please don’t claim you are and that’s not even what the maths version is called. She replied saying no graphic is roman for graph. I was like hell no is Greek for written by hand you moron. Dyscalculic is for maths from calculus also in Greek. She shut up after her google search proved her bull shite. My god if you’re wrong say sorry or shut the fuck up!
That’s the issues I have had to face in day to day life. When it comes to writing. I can be brimming with ideas. It takes a long time however to get going. Once I get going I can write six thousand words within a few hours and at least a thousand a session. If I get stuck, I just need to do a bit of research to kick off again with my crazy imagination. However, it is the editing which is the biggest pain. I can go through it and there are bits I have no idea what is going on as the words are just random. Even when Kyle reads it out, I’m clueless. Basic rules such as possessive S at the end of words, commas and spelling confuse me to death so I usually go for what is suggested. (I sometimes forget I’m and I am are the same.) I do try to google but its not always helpful. The problem is I also work fast, so without a professional editor and I do not have 7k to spend on a proof reader I can get a bit stuck.
I feel like proofing reports will not be an area in which I excel if I ever get a desk job. One of the other issues is triggers for distractions and procrastination. I need to move every hour. I can’t watch or listen to music if I am in concentration mode which comes in short bursts. If I get into research I can be distracted for hours. I think my Wikipedia record on the history of France was six hours. Yet I can recite the French and British royal history since the 1300s. I am sooo easily distracted. I do not have ADHD but if there’s something shiny or messages I will look at them and before you know it, I’m on YouTube for an hour and the day is gone and its off to work. A good example is right now when I am supposed to be editing and I got annoyed at myself and wrote this all out! Over 2000 hundred words in thirty-five minutes. And its all mostly useable.
I am going to not edit this end part to leave the writing as how it comes out all jjumnles up in the first palces before I put on spell check. IT will mostly be in red with a losts of issues and gramamer erores. See how the letters switch or add in before I can fo anything or even notice. Im not looking at the keyboard ot get the desired defect. Its pretty darn bad. IF you hate someone who gets theres ther your and yours mixed up then don’t add me on facebook. Also tell people to stop changing the splling of wors. Like since when did poccessive possess four Ss. And don’t get me started on trying to spell leason, leiason lysason. See google had no chance with me behind the keyboard. Ok, back to normal as this can go on forever and the whole screen will become red.
Basically, writing keeps my brain active, keeps me learning but sometimes it is the source off all my frustration and anger. There are lots of ways to help, however sometimes I just have to accept it takes me longer to do things than other people. Without the effort of trying how will improve? The Lone Swift, The Jewel of the King and The Cover Girl are probably the 10th, 11th and 12th books I’ve written. They just felt good enough to share. Most of the time I feel like what I have written is rubbish that no one should ever see it. Every author feels that way and I can only improve. I get a lot of encouragement as well. I am going to finish here. I have some plans to add a few more posts up here about progress, literacy courses and book update. Jewel is in editing and Cover Girl is coming up to 100k. God help me when it comes time to actually edit it. If anyone reading these experiences any of these issues, go get tested you never know what might help. In the meantime, I’m going to sleep because this has been a massive form of procrastination and I am only on page 10 of 286 of editing! Catch up soon!