I’ve talked a bit in the past about having both ADD and dyslexia. I haven’t really talked about what it meant for me, growing up.
Suffice to say that it made things a lot harder than they had to be, though not nearly as hard as some children have it. I was diagnosed with dyslexia after being held back in third grade. I attended special education sessions with a teacher at my elementary school and remember a bunch of exercises intended to train the eye/mind to track normally. My mother worked very closely with me to make sure I completed the exercises, something I am certain was not easy. Yet another reason I owe my parents all.
It worked, for the most part. I still screw up, sometimes in funny ways.
Thing is, I don’t think any of it would have worked had I not been enticed to read an enormous, tattered book with an intriguing cover left on my father’s nightstand: The Lord of The Rings.
I read it. I remember struggling with it over the course of months. I remember feeling my mind getting stronger as I read it. I remember the feeling of my mind growing because I was reading it. It was an awesome feeling, one that I have continued to seek over and over again, like an addict.
By the sixth grade I had overcome the difficulty that arose from my dyslexia to the extent I entered a state-wide short story competition. My short went to the state finals, but was turned down because they suspected I had not written it without assistance. I didn’t write fiction again for about twenty years.
When it came to marching at the academy, I had a hard time getting the right foot forward (pun there, eh?). Assembling furniture still makes me swear a blue streak as I go left to tighten, even when saying “righty-tighty”.
Anyway, it also gave me the ability to look at a picture on a wall and see, immediately, whether it’s level or not, and what proportion it might be above or below a neighboring picture.
Also, I just tend to think about things differently than just about anyone else I know.
Not better. Just different.
Sometimes I see shit in a way others don’t.
Don’t know if it’s from years of dealing with adjusting and questioning my own perspective on things or what, but there it is, a part of me I don’t think I would be rid of now if I could.
An acquaintance of mine, Blake Charlton, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about our shared condition of dyslexia. He’s one of those over-achievers that give me that shouted question: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH YOUR LIFE, GRIFFIN?!!! This question is shouted because Blake, aside from having a kick-ass name, is a medical doctor, a novelist, and looks like a bald badass ready to charm the pants from whom he pleases.
Regardless of my jealousy, his op-ed is an exceptional piece that can be found here. Please read it, and if your kid seems confused by which way b and d should face, it may be that kid is going to have a rough climb that may eventually smooth out on a plane few others reach.