I learnt to read, adventurously, from quite a young age. When I was about 7 or 8, I started to pick up real length books, without pictures or any kind of other shiny bits, and started to read to myself for fun. Within just a couple of years, I was reading books all the time. I developed a style of reading that I think my sister probably perfected, which involves immersing yourself in the book, and forgoing sleep, and most other things, until you’ve finished reading it. I’d frequently get through books in a day or so – reading quickly is something that I’ve found that I’m quite effective at, and so I found that when my peers at school were taking weeks and months to read through the first “long” Harry Potter book, I’d already finished it sometime ago, and was somewhat bored of it. (I suspect my “record” may be reading the final Harry Potter book ~ 607 pages, in 18 hours.)
Reading in set texts in groups was always excruciating, because I’d have read the book at least 3 times through “for fun” before we’d actually finish it, and going over and over things, time and time again is just no fun.
In many ways, it was like someone had taken my half my “writing speed skills” and attached them to my reading speed. In addition, whilst I certainly had my fair share of words that I incorrectly tried to phonetically pronounce – “Hermee-own” (aka Hermione), I never really had a problem with spelling – I can see when I’ve spelt something wrong, even if I’m not sure how to spell it. I certainly didn’t find it difficult to correctly use there/their/they’re or are/our or where/we’re/were which were homophones that my classmates frequently confused.
(Note: where I grew up, “are” & “our” and “were” and “we’re” are pronounced identically and are therefore quite easy to confuse).
So whilst I intensely disliked writing because I hated handwriting, as far as I’m aware, it’d be completely wrong to conclude that I left primary school, illiterate or with any other difficulties in terms of literacy.
At secondary school, during a particularly irritating low point, I was assessed to see whether I was dyslexic. Apparently, I was found to be mildly dyslexic, and as a result, I was given 25% extra time in exams, to give me time to finish my answers.
Now, I’m not an expert on dyslexia, and also, it’s somewhat difficult for me to look at myself from the outside in a completely non-biased capacity, however given the widely agreed on characteristics of dyslexia, other than handwriting, I’d be pushed to suggest what it it is that I struggle with.
Now it occurs to me, as I write this, that I make a hell of a lot of spelling errors over the standard course of writing this blog post – could this be my dyslexia, “seeping through?”
I can’t say for certain of course, but what I can say is that whilst spelling has never been a particular strong point, it’s never been a particular weak point – I never had problems with spelling in foreign languages really, and I’d suspect that I’ve become so used to pervasive in-browser spellcheck, that I don’t really bother to learn to spell words I don’t know how to spell very well, because so long as I can get the machine to understand me, that’s all that matters. (Which in itself, is perhaps an interesting observation on how we’re relying more on technology).
Ultimately, of course, it doesn’t actually matter whether I’m dyslexic or not.
What matters is that I can do stuff, and that I’m happy doing stuff – I can and I do, so all is good on that front.
But as dyslexia is frequently spoken about, I think back to the diagnosis and wonder whether I’d still be classified as dyslexic if I didn’t have to handwrite anything.
It’s a perplexing area, but right now, it doesn’t seem to be an issue.