For Dyslexia Awareness Month, Dillon 5 and Tilton House Press welcomes author and poet, Tiffany Sunday. She will be posting articles this 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
After thousands of failed starts in reading, writing, and spelling, I overcame my fear of failure in elementary school. Since then, I work to strengthen my confidence and overcome the challenges presented by my dyslexia.
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 the correct word.
These misfires include using the word “thingy” for everything, talking backward, and collapsing sentences to increase processing speeds. When this occurs, small talk in a conversation 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 and How Dyslexics Will Rule the Future, I learned a lot about myself; I’ve discovered how dyslexia encourages us to be brave. Our bravery occurs when we write on a whiteboard, generate small talk, answer questions in class or at work, and 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.
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 say or spell a word correctly. 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.
During the pandemic, I’ve noticed that communication with others feels laggy and cannot read people’s lips. My brain is missing the whole face and knows something is missing from the conversation.
My dyslexia brain is evolving to become a mentor, encouraging me to move past this fear. As a writer, my courage increases with each sentence written, small talk conversation completed, and similar situations. 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.
Each day I work past the fear of saying something backward, asking someone to clarify a comment that I may have taken literally. Most importantly, I work each day not to have a fear of being a writer and author
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.
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 we gain when we are willing to give a name to our fears and then take to action to overcome these fears.