Diagnosed with “congenital word blindness” in 1896.
What happened to Percy? Did he ever learn to read? Did he have a happy life?
Why don’t we know more about him, and all the boys and girls who have struggled to read the written word?
The history of dyslexia, and people with dyslexia, is fascinating. And yet, it remains largely untold.
It’s important to document our history: to see how we have been labelled and mislabeled, treated and mistreated; how far have we come in understanding and accepting dyslexia, and where we need to go.
That’s why I’m so excited about Oxford University’s History of Dyslexia project. They are tracing the origins of dyslexia (primarily in the UK) – the early advocates, pioneers and researchers who got us where we are today. They are also collecting histories of people with dyslexia.
I remember this day clearly. I insisted on dressing myself. Mismatched mittens and wrongly buttoned sweater — it didn’t matter. I was pleased with the results. My father took this photo, a celebration of his fiercely independent child.
Me at three.
Happy, free, loved, accepted.
My life before school. At home with a mom and dad who let me be me.
All that changed, I changed, when I entered the public school system here in Canada.
I was identified as dyslexic at the age of 49. It was like finding the missing piece of an unfinished puzzle (to paraphrase Steven Spielberg). Finally, my life made sense. In the days that followed, I did what I always do: I wrote it out. Then, I published my story on my book blog Lost and Found Books.
“We deserve a chance…not to be defined by what we struggle with and what we are not, but to be seen as whole people with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. We deserve a chance to add to the narrative on dyslexia that historically had been dominated by (albeit well meaning) non-dyslexics.”
Sarah Fearn, editor’s preface, everything is spherical (2014)
I sense a change is coming. Our voices are getting louder. Whether it’s on social media or through storytelling or advocacy work, people with dyslexia want/need to tell their own stories.
This is no small thing.
This is an act of bravery, even defiance, in a world that presumes to tell us who we are and how we feel; that we are broken, where we are broken, and how we can (or can’t) be “fixed.” This comes from the strangest places. Not just from the trolls, but even the people who aim to help. So many labels, but very little real understanding.
The Dyslexic Library is on vacation, and we’re reading:
Relish: My life in the kitchen (2013) – – graphic novel by Lucy Knisley – our number one pick of the summer!!! – tells the story of a woman’s (the author) life, and lessons learned about food, cooking and life – she was raised in a very foodie environment and grew up to take a completely different path – includes recipes – beautiful illustrations and beautiful story – recommended for teenagers and adults– writer has web comic (Review by SH & AMB) Continue reading →
In our new series, “Ask an expert,” we talk to the professionals who devote their lives to making the world a better place for children and adults with dyslexia: the educators, tutors, occupational therapists, psychologists, academics, writers, scientists and more, who inform, educate and advocate.
Our first expert is Nancy Young, a Canadian author and educator who specializes in reading, writing and spelling.
“…the alphabetic code is a secret to many people (including many educators), and … not knowing this code prevents many children from learning to read and spell proficiently.” ~Nancy Young, educator and author
I have spent most of my life wondering how to break the code.
I learned to read and spell by memorizing words and just plain old guessing. It was hit and miss, try and try again. Today I’m a good reader, and I work with words for a living, but I still don’t come by it naturally.
Two years ago, my daughter started a structured literacy reading program (Orton Gillingham-based). I heard words like “phenomes” and “sounds and symbols.” I saw her learn how to decode words in a systematic way — not by guessing.
When my copy of Secret Code Actions™ — Parent Edition arrived, it barely fit into my mail box. That’s a good thing. At 370 pages, it’s wonderful weightiness is matched by the depth and breadth of its content — it is the ultimate guide to understanding and deciphering the English alphabetic “code.”