October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. This post is dedicated to fellow dyslexics around the world.
Name must your fear be before banish it you can.
Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
I overcame my fear of failure, in elementary school, after thousands of failed starts in reading, writing, and spelling. Since then, I have developed a confidence in my abilities to overcome challenges and solve complex problems.
Even with my dyslexic brain’s savvy abilities, I encounter language processing misfires every day. There are some days when I feel it is impossible to spell a correct word.
These misfires include using the word “thingy” for everything, talking backwards, and collapsing sentences to increase processing speeds. When this occurs, small talk goes out the window. My brain focuses all of its energy on what it deems critical communication. What surprises most people is that I have a fear of writing in public. Either on social media or physically in front of another person. As a writer, this fear can present problems when your business is based on creating content.
When I was in high school, I wished, someone would have helped focus my energy on developing strategies to manage these road bumps instead of increasing my fear of making a mistake.
Since writing Dyslexia’s Competitive Edge, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve discovered how dyslexia encourages us to be brave. Our bravery occurs when we write on a whiteboard, answer questions in class, or participate in an extracurricular activity that requires us to read out loud.
Dyslexia teaches us to be brave as we think of ways to respond to tacky comments.
Like I said before, if I had a dollar for every time a person corrected my language errors or dyslexia’s misfires, I would have an island next to Richard Branson.
It’s hard to explain to others why our dyslexic brain will never figure out how to correctly say or spell a word. Often they think we’re not trying hard enough. We need to support dyslexic teens and remind them often to focus on developing strategies and ignore naysayers.
My dyslexia brain is evolving to become a mentor, encouraging me to move past this fear. I’m instructed to write online, develop a small talk strategy, and write in front of people. Each brave action makes it easier for the next action.
Even though small talk can be mentally draining, I am developing workarounds to manage the stress of retrieving the correct word. Small talk is different than speaking at a conference or like my TEDx Talk. As a professional speaker, I spent hours memorizing the presentation.
I decided to embrace my fear and became a board member of my son’s high school band organization. Each week, I volunteer at football games and competitions. I am most vulnerable when helping at these events.
I write down numbers, names, pronounce student names, and manage on-demand communication with moving variables. Imagine participating in the Olympic Game of language processing.
The real test was this past weekend. I was a band chaperone for an all day competition. My dyslexic brain rose to the demands and quickly created adoptions and shorts cuts to efficiently process information. However, by late afternoon I experienced word retrieval problems, talked backwards, and collapsed sentences down to two or three words.
Instead of feeling embarrassed or frustrated, I kept going and if someone asked I said, “I’m dyslexic and am experiencing language misfires.” I work each day to stop criticizing myself for these errors. I know it’s impossible to stop the word “thingy” from happening. I have learned it’s a message from my brain telling me it’s either overloaded or tired.
My message to dyslexic teens and young adults – Do not let your fear prevent you from doing what you love.
Be brave and work to develop strategies, tell people your dyslexic, and then share with them how they can help you process information.
I believe we only gain the results we seek. When we are willing to face our fears, take action only then can we eliminate the fear.
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