Be clear about which area of dyslexia you are exploring
There are four main areas that are worth exploring if you are trying to increase your knowledge and understanding of dyslexia, these are:
– The subject area of ‘dyslexia’ i.e. professionals, academic opinion
– Other dyslexic peoples perspectives of dyslexia, i.e. their opinions, views
– Non-dyslexic peoples perceptions of dyslexia
– Your own dyslexia, i.e. how you conceptualise it, how it affects you, and how you are dealing with it
Each of these areas is elaborated below.
a) Exploring the subject area of ‘dyslexia’
Exploring the subject area of dyslexia through reading books or through watching (or listening to) programs on dyslexia can help you increase your understanding of how professionals and academics are seeing ‘dyslexia’. By knowing how the professionals and academics see dyslexia will give you a broad knowledge and understanding of dyslexia. Remember though that there are a lot of different perspectives of dyslexia out there and it can get really confusing whilst you are trying to make sense of them. However, it is worth sticking with, as you will become your own ‘expert’ on dyslexia and be able to ‘hold your own’ in discussions about dyslexia.
A useful tip to bear in mind as you set about exploring in this area is to try and distance yourself as much as you can from what you are reading or watching. There are two main reasons for keeping this in mind. Firstly, it will lessen the chance of you getting sucked into one particular theory of dyslexia over another. We suggest that you avoid this, if you can, as it might stop you from exploring any further. Also, you run the risk of adopting some of the symptoms that are associated with the theory you get sucked into.
The second reason for distancing yourself is that it will help lessen the strong feelings of annoyance that you might feel when you come across perspectives of dyslexia that are not ‘dyslexic’ friendly and use language that is often quite hard to understand or talks down to you as if you were an object.
If you feel a bit stuck by not knowing where to start or feel overwhelmed by the thought of trying to understand lots of different perspectives but feel that it would be a good idea, then contact us and we will do our best to support you.
b) Exploring other peoples ‘dyslexia’
Talking to other dyslexics, especially those who have been exploring and trying to understand their dyslexia (or better still already understand their dyslexia), can help you feel accepted and part of a group. You will probably find that lots of dyslexics who already have a good understanding of their own dyslexia will only be too happy to help you increase your own understanding. And if you’re lucky they might open up on how they have reduced or overcome completely the negative impact dyslexia had in their lives. You might be able to tailor some of their strategies to help you overcome some of your own.
A word of caution, some people are a bit sensitive about their dyslexia being made public knowledge, so play things by ear. If you suspect that someone you know is dyslexic (as the old adage goes. “It takes one to know one”) then it’s probably a good idea to wait till they are alone before you ask them if they are dyslexic. Antonio has found that nine times out of ten that if he says he is dyslexic in a conversation the other person mentions that they are too, that is of course if they are!
c) Exploring non-dyslexic peoples perceptions of ‘dyslexia’
This can be a worthwhile area to explore and can be achieved simply by mentioning something about dyslexia in conversations with non-dyslexics. For instance, you might say something like this to get a discussion going, “I read an article on dyslexia yesterday that said … [fill the rest in with something that you have read]”. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out that for many people dyslexia is no big deal.
At one time there was lots of stigma attached to being dyslexic; many people equated dyslexia with derogatory terms such as ‘thick’ or ‘stupid’ and would express such views in conversations. However, it seems that nowadays things have moved on quite a bit. There are so many people about, from all walks of life that live by the notion of equality, they celebrate human difference and question the social ‘norms’ that created the stigma around dyslexia in the first place. Hearing the views of such people can be rather liberating and can lead, in some instances, to a real sense of ‘dyslexic’ pride. However, be prepared to hear the negative views that some people you come across might hold! Again, if possible keep some distance.
d) Exploring your own ‘dyslexia’
Carrying out some of the exploration into the three areas outlined above will most probably have caused you to focus on your own dyslexia quite a bit. However, there are also few exercises that you can do to increase your understanding of your own dyslexia. We have included two of these in our ‘Bees-Knees exercises’ section.