Life of a Dyslexic Student. Dealing with student life: homework, notes, social activities, and so much more.

Location: Chestertown, MD, United States

I have dyslexia. I will never run from this fact. I love it, hate it and live with it constantly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Released and free!

Well I’m waiting for a few more responses to the question at the end of my last post before answering them. But some people were asking about how my imagination was ‘shackled’ as I mentioned before and I would like to address that one now. My mind is always doing things, the little movements out of the corner of your eye; my mind sees them and makes things from them. A floating eye or a laughing ghost from light reflected in my own glasses. Colors each have a life and flavor in my mind, I’m seeing an old brown plaid couch out of the corner of my eye but at the same time I’m seeing chocolate bar the size of, well, a couch, I can smell it and I wish I could get up and eat it. My mouth is seriously watering for chocolate now, damn… Anyway.

My medication made the light interesting sparkles and the couch look uncomfortable. Everything fantastic and new at every turn died. I am Calvin without Hobbs or his alter ego Space Man Spiff. Even as I write a ten page paper for my Fiction class I feel and see my imagination rocking out to my Chinese Techno Classical music selection bouncing between the stars and strumming the tails of chilly comets like strings. On medication my imagination barely did a lame dance in the corner out of time with the music.

My imagination was my balloon which lifted my spirits and brightened my day. I am well and truly happier without little pills regulating my life.

Labels: ,

Read more!

Monday, December 3, 2007


I was asked today if I enjoyed reading things upside down. A rather odd question don't you think? I responded with, Yes. I enjoy reading, in any form. But the question got me thinking about the misconceptions about dyslexia and what it entails. There are many different facets to any Learning Disability and dyslexia is one of the most complicated. When last I checked there were approximately 18 different learning disabilities that were considered subsets or parts of dyslexia. Anything from dysnomia (Inability to remember names) to dyscalculia (Inability to do math) and even nonverbal learning disabilities (Difficulty recognizing facial expressions and tone) all can fall under dyslexia.

Due to this wide variety of symptoms and diagnosis Dyslexia is, in my mind at least, an umbrella term for learning disabilities in general, and has become the catchall diagnosis for the Learning disabled.

But back to my original issue. There are many notions and even disagreements about what it means to be dyslexic and I would like feedback and especially questions from people reading this blog so I can try and clarify things. Please don't be shy. Either as comments or as e-mails or whatever, please speak up and I will respond to them with my next post.

Read more!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Everyone has someone they’ve idolized in their history. Someone they wanted to be like and read about or watched on TV or in life. When I was younger for me the man who I was interested in most was Thomas Edison, and I still hold great respect for him and his accomplishments. Yes, part of my fascination in him is that he was dyslexic; he had a fascinating thought process. His actions as an individual are well known to me due to what I’ve read.

His thought process can be readily seen with his round about method to invention. He tested hundreds of different materials in his quest for a better light bulb. His inventions led to modern movies and even tattoo machines, audio recordings, batteries and so much more. However the greatest of his creations, in my mind, was his own laboratory building that could be turned on a round platform to utilize the best light year round rather then conforming to the standard design.

His lab is still standing to this day and is known as the first Industrial Lab. When I visited his home many years ago I was awed and inspired by what the man had accomplished and threw myself into all forms of science, much of which has stayed with me to this day. I have him to thank for it and I applaud his perseverance in coming though his dyslexia, and being kicked out of school.

Who is your idol? Could they be dyslexic? Check it out. Here’s a good list.

Labels: , ,

Read more!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Doctor: “So Alexander, how’s it going?”
Me: “It's so interesting. I can think much more clearly now.”

Two weeks after I started taking medication to manage my ADD that the above exchange occurred. 1995, nine years old, the prescription was Dexedrine. It didn’t cure my dyslexia by a long shot, but I could focus on the words and my work like never before. However it wasn’t without its drawbacks: sleep loss and weight loss due to loss of appetite. The worst thing was definitely the crash - eight hours of clear thought, focused work, brought to an end in a sudden jolt. All my focus and organization issues returned and it seemed each time they came back with interest.

I took medication five days a week during the school year right through high school. I changed medications once along the way from Dexedrine to Concerta. The frequency of taking the medication tended to rise and fall depending on work load at the time and it helped. It really did. But at the same time that it helped, I also felt that something was lost. My free imagination, which was always off doing something fantastic, even as I bent over my papers, was shackled. My other, extra curricular, writing diminished to the point of near non-existence, there was no inspiration for them. I found I didn’t enjoy my time on the medication nearly as much as I did when off. Though it wasn’t until I was shown the comic in the last panel that I managed to give words to what I felt.

I was losing part of myself - part of what made me, ME. I felt cut off from my imagination, one might as well have removed a limb. It may sound trite, but I was afraid of becoming just that: trite, common, stale, tired. That’s why I can’t look at that comic without having to fight down tears. Because of what I feel I came close to loosing.

I stopped taking the medication outright in my second year of college, accepting my deficits as something that I would work on with sheer will if need be. Though it is harder, I feel I have made the right decision and regret nothing. My mom likes to say that she’s never met a strength that wasn’t a weakness. And I know my weakness is also my strength.

Labels: , , ,

Read more!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I quit Medication. Part One.

I have had this image on my computer for a few years, though I do not know the source of it. I do not look at it very often because it rips at my heart every time. It affects me so deeply because I know it to hold a truth, and because I didn't want to loose that part of me because of medication. More to come.

Read more!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dreamer and Writer

I mentioned something in my last post that’s been ringing in the back of my mind for a little while now. And that is the difference between a Dreamer and a Writer. One of the more positive markings for an individual with dyslexia is an abundant imagination. Though this often manifests as frequent daydreaming and a somewhat loose connection with reality. I call this being a Dreamer, and you don’t need to have dyslexia to be one, but it certainly doesn’t hurt things.

Being a Writer is a little more structured. It means being able to put down, in words, what you see, either in life or in your mind, and get your ideas across to people in a way that they see it, feel it, and/or experience it as if it were their own. To do this truly accurately requires a gift that I’ve only ever seen few who have earned or been gifted with it. My own sister is a fabulous writers and I believe she has this. I myself have quite a bit to go before I’ll think of myself as a true Writer instead of a pale imitation.

I tend to use a rather normal vocabulary when I speak. I use quite a bit of inflection and gesticulation to get across the image and feeling that I have in my mind. I can recall quite vividly one of the tests used to diagnose my dyslexia. I was asked to name as many tings as I could that began with the letter ‘S’. I said ‘socks’ and then blanked. I can recall images of snakes, ships, saws, and many other things, however the words did not come and I was unable to bring them out. Granted quite a lot of time has passed since then and I can say quite plainly that given the same test, my scores would be drastically different. But listing words and using them in writing is quite different.

That being said I continue to try and improve myself until one day I can wear the titles of Dreamer and Writer with conviction.

Labels: , , , ,

Read more!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Executive Function Disorder

I feel that I must apologies to all my readers out there because of my lack of frequent updates in terms of material. I often find myself thinking of myself as a Dreamer instead of a Writer, a distinction I will get too shortly. I have many ideas and ambitious prospects for my future, near and far. However, when it comes to the actual follow though I have difficulty.

When dealing with things hands on, at the moment, a clear and present timeline, which must be adhered to, I don’t have a problem. Things are being done in the present and there isn’t a future that needs to be planned or other things, which can get in the way. Once there is a present and a future in terms of a project then things start to get shot to hell.

The problem that I have to deal with here is called Executive Function Disorder (EFD). The basic definition of this diagnosis is a great difficulty to follow though a plan. The more loosely defined the plan the less likely I am able to follow it. For this reason I tend to jump into things fast. My friends can attest to the fact that I am a spur of the moment kind of guy.

My main problem is that if I don’t immediately try and follow though with something. Write a paper, do research, write a blog entry, then they tend to wait and eventually stop. If I try and force myself to do it by a certain time, then it waits. I have to consciously force myself at an exact moment in time to get up and do it. And for me it’s not as easy as it sounds.

In the past I’ve had various catches and things to make sure that I got the work done. The main one being my mother. I have no problem admitting that my mother is probably the only reason that I got though school at all. I would tell her what work I had, after dinner was over or she had the time, she would sit down in front of the computer and allow me to dictate my homework to her.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t the regular day to day homework but the essays and such that she was instrumental in assisting me though. When I got distracted it was my mother who got me back on track before I was completely away from the topic. It was also her who coaxed the information out of me. She knew just how to do it, give me a subject and a verb and I could write a paragraph or more. Something that I would most definitely be unable to do on my own, that is for certain.

I’ve spent two years in another college, and a year off, before attending my current school. My last college was called Landmark College. The premier college in the United States dedicated to Learning Disabled students. By that time I had a good handhold on my dyslexia. But the real problem began with being away from home and the assistance I got from my mother. That’s when the EFD reared its head once more, and I’ve been working on putting the lid on it ever since. I worked on it at Landmark. Though I’ll be the first one to admit that making plans to deal with a disability that makes it difficult to follow plans is one of the greatest ironies I’ve had to deal with.

One thing that has helped me in my struggle is my friends, people backing me up and helping me work out a schedule. For this I am eternally grateful. The next step is working on following my own schedule. Perhaps the greatest feat I will face. Let’s see how well I do, shall we?

Read more!