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The Dyslexic Who Became a Righter

I am dyslexic. I am also a righter... er... wrighter... er... author.

Writing with dyslexia feels like the world's worst joke, and other times, a death knell. Those without dyslexia have trouble understanding how a simple task like writing a cohesive sentence is not only tricky but fraught with errors that go unnoticed. As in the following:

"I think were on the smae page. Lets do it and then we can't talk after is you want."
"I'm glad that we get the change that to connect tomorrow."

I wrote these sentences. In fact, I write sentences like these all the time. It's not because I'm stupid. I'm not. I went to a good college. I owned and operated a successful software business for nearly 20 years. I can tie my shoes. And, while dyslexia is nowhere near life-threatening, it is life-altering. It can have the effect of being trapped inside an otherwise ordinary mind. As a child, I remember being terrified in school, fearing my teacher might call on me to read aloud or recite multiplication tables It felt lousy. I felt stupid. No one knew any better.

In my world of, on, if, in, is, do, to, so are interchangeable. I see most two-letter words the same and will substitute them freely without any notice whatsoever. I will also remove them from sentences as if unnecessary filler. But my pièce de résistance is when I read or write "can" when I mean "can't" or "do" when I mean "don't." That always leads to interesting results, most obviously, the opposite. Not exactly good outcomes for a writer.

Beyond writing and reading, numbers are another special foe, albeit more dyscalculia than dyslexia. I fail spectacularly with word or sequential problems, and I hit a cement wall with any math concept higher than beginning algebra — as in the beginning of beginning algebra. And, as much as I try, I'm sad to say the symbols for greater than and less than regularly elude me in the moment (or always). Oddly, I am stellar with geometry, estimation, and measurements. I think it's because I've learned to feel and see numbers more than know them. Those situations are also more applied, at least, to me. It's no wonder then I began my career as a graphic designer. Numbers were little more than cool shapes.

However, my experience with dyslexia is far more than being oblivious when I misspell something, or use almost the write word (see what I did there?), or that I constantly jumble the order of things. It's how I think — I construct thoughts in reverse. Frequently that's led to another undesired result where I play the role of the involuntary contrarian in most conversations.

With dyslexia, we don’t have a knowledge gap; we have an action gap. - Dr. Sally E. Shaywitz

Here are some interesting facts from website of the Yale Center For Dyslexia & Creativity:

  • Dyslexia affects 20 percent of the population and represents 80–90 percent of all those with learning disabilities. It is the most common of all neuro-cognitive disorders.

  • Some of the brightest children struggle to read. Dyslexia occurs at all levels of intelligence—average, above average and highly gifted. Many gifted people at the top of their fields are dyslexic. While people with dyslexia are slow readers, they often are very fast and creative thinkers.

  • At its core, dyslexia is a problem accessing the sound of spoken language. It is not a visual disorder. Early screening, early diagnosis, early evidence-based reading intervention and appropriate accommodations are what is needed to help dyslexic individuals.

So why write any of this? Because in my experience dyslexia has a quiet shame to it, where those afflicted live in a prepetual and silent embarassment of sorts while hiding from the world of words. I see this manifested a lot later in life when people choose professions.

I want children with dyslexia to express themselves without worrying about the words. It's not spelling that makes you intelligent — it's your ideas. Don't hide behind it. Don't feel ashamed. Know that you are one of millions who, like you, see the world differently. That difference in perspective can be a huge asset to you and everyone around you.

I am dyslexic. I am also a righter... well, you get the point, and that's all that matters.


Toolbox for dyslexic writers

There are a few tools that I could not live without that aid me in keeping dyslexia at bay.

Simply unmatched software for everything to do with the correctness, clarity, and engagement of words.

My choice for text-to-speech, because while I can't see my mistakes, I can hear them. It is also as a close to a human read as I've ever found, and provides a fairly true sense of writing cadence.

Patience, self-forgiveness, and a lot of both.


Famous authors with severe learning disabilities

Agatha Christie

F. Scott Fitzgerald

George Bernard Shaw

Jules Verne


Anne Rice


Resources for children with dylexia

Overcoming Dyslexia by Dr. Sally Shaywitz

Children's Dylexia Centers (chairty of Scottish Rite Freemasonry)

Speaking with One Voice: A Guide to Talking about Dyslexia - Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity


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