Adult Dyslexia Awareness Month
Oct 20, 2015
Dyslexia - Half Full or Half Empty?
Dyslexia... It's all in how you look at it. It's all in how you look at you. What's your perspective as an adult with dyslexia? Is your glass half full or half empty? Do you see limited or unlimited possibilities for yourself? Are you a victim or a victor? What responsibility might you take in improving your situation and changing your destiny, and how might you, as an adult dyslexic, raise awareness as a voice for change for other adult dyslexics?
The choice is yours... You have more power than you know.
Dyslexia Awareness Month
October has been designated as Dyslexia Awareness Month. Many dyslexia organizations and individuals are rallying together and raising their collective voices to create change for the number of children who struggle with dyslexia/LD in public schools. The momemtum builds. Proclamations are announced. T-shirts are donned, screenings are viewed, visits to elected officials are scheduled. Legislation is drafted, walks are held, and bridges are lit up red. There is a flurry of activity and initiatives surrounding our youngest ones, the 1 in 5. The celebration goes on!
So, What About Us? What about the Adult Dyslexic?
For those of us who live with dyslexia or another LD every day, we truly understand the reality that dyslexic children grow into dyslexic adults. We fully appreciate and can relate to the phrase, "Once a dyslexic, always a dyslexic." Depending on where we are in our individual journeys, we may or may not be OK with the word dyslexia. Some of us don't like the label dyslexic, and prefer the word difference. Some prefer to be referred to as neurodiverse. One individual may view their profile as a gift or advantage, another as a disability. On those days when we feel that our challenges seem to outnumber our strengths, we may wish we had never heard of the word dyslexia. We may want to trade in our troubles vs. embrace them, work with them, or work around them. Dyslexia is personal. Some days really stink for the dyslexic, and on those days for those of us who are also parents of children with dyslexia or other learning and attention issues, we get to live some days twice, through seeing how dyslexia plays out in our kids' daily lives as well.
What It Is and What It Isn't
Dyslexia is not something to be overcome or beaten. Nor is dyslexia something to run away from. We get this. Many of us have spent much of our lives attempting to hide our disability from others, living in shame, feeling less than. We also realize that however frustrating the challenges related to our dyslexia might be, our dyslexia is part of the fabric of who we are as individuals. If we choose to embrace our dyslexic identities, to accept the good, the bad and the ugly of our dyslexia, we stand a better chance to live more successful and happier lives. Dyslexia is not something to sugar coat. Dyslexia is neither a gift nor is it a curse. It is a trait. It is a difference which is neurobiological in origin, and it does have it's advantages in addition to it's disadvantages. And, like it or not, it is a disability in some contexts in daily life, in educational systems, and in the world of work. Dyslexia represents the cards which we are dealt. We can't change the cards we are dealt, just how we choose to play our hand. We have some choice in the matter.
"Comparison Is the Death of Joy" - Mark Twain
Comparing oneself to the newest most famous "dyslexic du Jour" in the media may not be all that healthy for the adult dyslexic who is under or unemployed. If might not be beneficial for the high school kid who barely scraped by and has little direction, or for the college student who has four or more years to go in a system where many continue to be ignorant of or to doubt the existence of dyslexia, or of the potential of the person who has it.
Not all dyslexics will be able to achieve the high levels of success of the latest entrepreneur, Nobel Laureate, or blockbuster movie star, and this is OK. Success and satisfaction will look and feel different for each person. It's important to have a starting point, however, to identify individual strengths and attitudes surrounding dyslexia, to set reasonable goals, and to strive to be the best version of yourself, for yourself.
Not All Dyslexics are Self-Aware
Some dyslexics may never know that they are dyslexic. This unidentified and underserved group may go through life never reaching their full potential. This dyslexic may feel perpetually out of place, out of sync, in life and in work, with a gnawing feeling that something is missing, and somehow he'll never be good enough. The issues arising from unidentified and unsupported adult dyslexia are numerous and may have serious consequences. The dyslexic may feel defeated, have a low self-esteem, and may not have that chance to show what he knows in the workplace or educational setting. Unrecognized and unaddressed difficulties on the job or in school for the adult dyslexic may contribute to a loss of employment, dropping out, financial issues, mental health issues and in a worst-case scenario, substance abuse or a life of crime.
What Dyslexia Looks Like in The Adult
Dyslexia may look like this in the adult:
- The adult dyslexic 16+ may continue to be a slow reader, and will therefore avoid reading tasks in general, reading for pleasure and may hide their struggles.
- Handwriting may appear messy with many spelling errors.
- Organizing ideas in the written form may be difficult. Jobs requiring heavy written communication may be difficult and tiring, requiring much time to complete.
- Directionality, left right, up and down orientation, sense of time, reading from a clock, remembering passwords, and following multi-step directions may be compromised.
- Time management may be an issue.
- Anxiety, stress, and feeling overwhelmed on the job or in school is common.
- The individual may opt for jobs which are lower paying which do not require a high amount of heavy reading, writing, mathematics abilty, or other tasks they find challenging, although the person is of average or above average intelligence, and might be able to master a more complex job if provided the right support.
Fall Is A Season Of Change. Working To Become Our Best Dyslexic Selves.
For those of us who are in touch with our dyslexic identities, it is important that we focus on being our best selves. Success is relative, and it is never too late to re-evaluate and make positive change in our own lives to reach new levels of success we hadn't thought possible. Advocating for yourself and asking for help is important. By serving as role models through speaking up about our own challenges and also the strengths associated with dyslexia, we may inspire others to raise their voices too. That's how movements are started. That's how change begins.
For those of us whose geography permits us to view the changing of the leaves in this season of fall, we are treated to a variety of colors. Fall is a great time to reflect on the past, to evaluate the present and to plan for the future. During this month of October, of Dyslexia Awareness, it might be helpful to take some time to do this for ourselves.
In the coming weeks, we'll discuss some thoughts on how to guide your steps to be your best dyslexic self.
Any questions? Contact us at our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/headstrongnation. We're not experts, but we’ll do what we can to point you to resources and to answer any questions that you may have. You may also follow us on Twitter, https://twitter.com/headstrongnatio and on Pinterest.
Headstrong Nation is a movement dedicated to a radical new approach to dyslexia. We empower adult dyslexics to own their dyslexia, understand it, and develop new ways of learning and working based on their individual profiles.
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