No matter how many times I’ve heard it over the years, I continue to be astounded by the core mythology of “dyslexia,” that it is a problem where someone reads upside down and backward.
In spite of the workshops and trainings that have taken place around the country over the last 15 years, shaking this mythology from our collective awareness seems to be virtually impossible.
Part of the problem is that even for someone like myself, a professional in the field who has evaluated thousands of kids, when asked the question, “So, Mr. Bigshot, we know you’ve written a book or two on dyslexia, can you please tell us what it is,” I find myself challenged to try and give a clear answer.
You would think after all these years, I would have a ready response, but I still hate the question!!
Mumbling through my mask in the interview, I start to “fumfer” around while attempting to define it.
At some point the word “decoding” will be be sprinkled in to my mumbling. “Decoding????” the interviewer may ask. “What is that? Are you a spy with a decoder ring?”
Then I really start shuffling with a higher level of “fumfering” and start saying things like “phonemic awareness” and “phonological processing.”
Now the interviewer has completely lost it – between “decoding rings” and something to do with “phones” and “awareness,” she has no idea what I am talking about.
Eventually, I try and regroup and say something more clearly like, “Dyslexia is a learning disability that doesn’t allow children to read, spell or write like other children. It impacts them greatly on many levels and they need specialized instruction to overcome it.”
Astounded, the interviewer looks at me and says, “Why couldn’t you say that in the first place? Why all the mumbling? And what about all the upside down and reversal reading that everyone believes it is?”
“Well, literally everyone believes that’s what’s involved with dyslexia, but that really isn’t a part of things; you see dyslexia involves an awareness of sounds…”
The interviewer stops me mid-sentence and thanks me for my time.
I see her shaking her head as she packs up her things, muttering to herself as she flees from the interview.
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