7 Tips for Living Successfully with Dyslexia

I have read articles about people who were able to beat dyslexia. I cheer these people…

I, though diagnosed relatively early in my live, and having both my parents and myself invest a lot of time, effort and money in treating my dyslexia, was never able to beat my dyslexia. Rather, I learned to live with my Dyslexia.

Here are my seven tips of how you can live successfully with your dyslexia:

1)      Practice, practice & practice reading – till you can enjoy reading a good book, or read up on all required work materials. For some, audio reading solutions can help in improving their reading capabilities.

2)      Gain your reading and writing independence – find the right reading and writing assistive solutions. Solutions like Ghotit, enable even heavy dyslexics to independently produce correctly written text as well as read any text.

3)      Keep up to date of new technologies/inventions – the technological world is leapfrogging. Today having computer access is quite easy, and the internet provides a direct route to knowledge of all new findings and developments for dyslexics. Keep up to date of these changes/developments as you may one day find that these new innovations may dramatically change the quality of your life.

4)      Know when is the right time to “divulge” your dyslexia – Dyslexia is not a disease, but there are quite a few misconceptions that people have about dyslexia. Raising an “I Have Dyslexia Flag” it not always in your best interest. Fine-tune your detection capabilities to determine when is the best time to share with others your “dyslexic” condition.

5)      Re-gain your social confidence– many times dyslexics attending regular educational institutes lose their social confidence during their school years. Schools usually grade students based on the weaker aspects of a dyslexic – his reading and writing abilities. To succeed in life, you must regain your social confidence…

6)      Learn your strengths – People with dyslexia are not the worlds’ most accomplished readers and writers. In a world focused on the written word, dyslexics have a major disadvantage.  However, dyslexics usually boast of high intelligence and “big-picture” / strategic thinking. Learn your strengths, as these must be leveraged in your real-life struggles to compete with those common non-dyslexics :-).

7)      Never ever ever give up – You must always believe in your abilities and to quote the famous Charlie Brown – simply “Never ever ever give up”. The world is full of people who have lost because they simply gave up. But we the dyslexics, who have been struggling more or less from elementary school, are trained for the struggle. We have been trained for disappointments and the ability to overcome these disappointments. We are the ones who shall teach the others to “Never Ever Ever Give Up”.

I will be happy to hear  ideas for “How to Overcome Dyslexia”

Least and not least don’t feel sorry for yourself and smile – it really helps

A new insight I received form my daughter try again and again to convince the person you are working/studding to look at things differently.

Look at Ghotit Real Writer & Reader designed for those with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

 

How The Brain of a Person with Dyslexia Works Differently

I recently came across a short video that provides a simple description of how the brain of a person with dyslexia works differently. I was impressed with the simplicity of the explanation. Here is a short recap.

3 Key Areas of the in the left side of the Brain that work simultaneously:

1) Phoneme Recognizer: Area used to sounding words out loud in our brain and breaking down words to similar sounds, known as phonemes (Example: the sound of the letter “T”).

2) Word Analyzer: Area used for analyzing words even more, analyzing together word syllables and phonemes (Example: the sound of “Ti” and “ger”)

3) Word Detector: Area responsible for detecting word forms, allowing to instantly recognize words without having to sound them out

People with Dyslexia, have problem to get access to both the Word Analyzer and the Word Detector. This may cause them to compensate and rely more heavily on sounding out words. Dyslexics may compensate by using the right side of the brain that takes visual cues from story pictures  to decipher words.

Here is a link to my previous Ghotit Blog My Dyslexia and Phonological Processing

And for a relieve, look at Ghotit Real Writer and Reader designed for those with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia.

Dyslexia, Writing Assistive Technology and Grammar Correction

English grammar is not straightforward. As in many languages, English too has a long list of grammar rules and a long list of exceptions to these rules. Now take a person with dyslexia. A dyslexic has to exert his full concentration on subduing the words from dancing up and down, backwards and forwards, and therefore does not have a very wide concentration span on writing correct grammar too.

Writing is harder for people with dyslexia. This is a well-known fact. As they struggle with their spelling, they often ignore their grammar. I am a dyslexic myself. My verbal English is quite good. Rarely do I make grammatical errors when I speak. However, many times when I review some text of mine, I am surprised by the grammatical errors that I have produced. Sometimes I ask myself “Did I really write this?”

Regular spell checkers usually have some grammar checking capabilities. But as with the other features of regular spell checkers, they are not optimized to the needs of a person with dyslexia. The algorithm for spell checkers for people with dyslexia must be much more intelligent as they must deal with much more severe and un-identifiable spelling errors mixed together with some grammar confusion.

As understood from the title itself, Writing Assistive Technology comes to assist people that have special writing disabilities. In order to support a dyslexic in producing legible and high quality written text, a writing assistive technology must also address grammar mistakes. The grammar checker must be integrated together with the spell checker, enabling a maximum secure writing experience for the dyslexic. The grammar checking for dyslexics must be intelligent enough so that even though a written sentence may be completely jumbled it will still be able to offer the correct grammar corrections.

Ghotit leverages its Intelligent Context Correction (ICC) patent-pending technology to correct grammar errors uncorrectable by regular spell checkers. Using this technology, Ghotit is able to find and correct grammar errors also when they are well camouflaged amidst text full of heavily misspelled words.

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A Dyslexic Spell Checker – Holic

A few days ago I went to sort out some open bureaucracy issue. After an hour of presenting my case to the clerk, the clerk handed me a form and I was asked to write on the spot my request. Suddenly I felt sweat all over me – I had just encountered my worse fear – I must write a letter without any spell checker assistance.

I started writing the letter, and after a few minutes I looked at the paper and saw that my worst nightmare had come true. The paper looked graphically like it had suffered a tsunami… the lines were so crooked … the size of the letters uneven… the paper full of words that I had absolutely no idea if I had spelled correctly, but being familiar with my spelling track record, assumed were spelled completely wrong… The language too was really plain and dull as I tried to express myself in words which I had some confidence that I could spell right…

When I reread what I wrote, I felt that the overall presentation of my case was really poor, and that I would not get very far with such a written request… I quietly approached the clerk, and told him that I had to run and that I would return with the written request soon… Of course I was running off to my computer with my word processor and friendly spell checker…

I am not used to writing any more with a pen and paper. I believe that is true for many of us who perform most of their writing using a computer. As a heavy dyslexic, I have struggled my whole life with very poor spelling. My spelling is so poor, that I even found conventional spell checker not providing the assistance I required. I finally went and developed (with assistance of course) a spell checker optimized for people like me, for people with dyslexia. And today following this paper-writing exercise, I must admit that I have become a true Spell Checker – Holic – I just cannot write anymore without a friendly SpellChecker at my side…

Disabled – maybe… but the disability appears only in very rare occasions, and when I have my friendly spellchecker at my side I can write my case as well as anyone else…

Try the Ghotit SpellChecker at: www.ghotit.com

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Teaching Disabilities of a Parent with Dyslexia

“If you don’t want your teacher to think you are an idiot, you better ask your mother to help you in this homework writing assignment”.

This is what I spurted out to my daughter who recently started 1st grade. My daughter asked for my assistance in one of her first writing homework assignments.  Just to clarify I am a heavy dyslexic and a terrible speller.  A second after I said this sentence I regretted it. My 6 year old daughter did not really catch the meaning of what I said, except of course to understand that to get homework assistance she better go to my wife.

The homework assignment of my daughter who has just started first grade was simple enough. She had to write a certain letter in a row of squares drawn on a sheet of paper.  My daughter asked me to see if she had written the letters properly inside each one of the squares. Sounds simple enough. But my “dyslexic eyes” couldn’t for the life of me figure out if the letter was written inside or outside the square. To my eyes, the letters just floated around on the paper…

When I started to think about it, it occurred to me that helping my daughter in language assignments was very problematic:

  1. Most of the homework assignments of kids in first grades are technical writing and spelling assignments – directly focusing on my main dyslexic spelling weaknesses
  2. I realized that since my daughter has no previous “spelling knowledge”, so if I teach her a wrong spelling of a word, she will automatically learn and adopt the misspelling

A few days later, we were driving in the car. My daughter had learned her first 8 alphabet letters, and my wife was saying out words that included only these letters and asking my daughter to spell them. I stayed quiet during this session, and was quite happy when my second daughter who is in kindergarten asked to also participate by asking her simple arithmetic questions. Thank God  I don’t have dyscalculia and could participate in this educational family game.

All of these minor incidents made me start thinking: Which role can I play in my daughters’ studies? Do I suffer not only from learning disabilities but also from teaching disabilities?

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No Ifs or Buts – Dyslexics Deserve Extra Exam Time

I remember a while back when I was working at a previous workplace, I entered the coffee lounge and heard two work colleagues talking about the injustice of giving students additional exam time. They raised the issue that many students are abusing this “benefit” unjustly. I remember how I impolitely interrupted their conversation stating that what they just said was complete nonsense and explained that denying students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and dysgraphia extra exam time was simply unjust and reflected the general’s public general ignorance on these topics. They of course lacked the ardor that I demonstrated in this discussion and soon enough retreated back to their offices.

IF only these students would work harder they would not need this extra time?

BUT so many students are abusing this extra time loop hole to get improved testing conditions?

My work colleagues were not malicious, dyslexia-phobic people… they simply were quite ignorant to what people with Reading and Writing disabilities experience and did not have the understanding that providing this extra exam time for people with dyslexia can make a real difference between Success or Failure.

“Just as a diabetic requires insulin, an individual who is hearing impaired requires a hearing aid, a man or woman who is a quadriplegic requires a wheelchair, a person who is dyslexic has a profound physiological need for additional time to complete examinations.” – http://dyslexia.yale.edu/Policy_WhyChange.html

Dyslexia is a physiological condition that people are born with. Special learning techniques, together with hard word and special reading and writing assistive technology can ensure that a dyslexic student succeed in both education and his workplace. However, the fact remains that for most dyslexics Reading and Writing will always be more difficult and time-consuming then non-dyslexics. The objectives of examinations are to test the intelligence and knowledge of the examinee on a specific topic. The objective is not to test the speed at which he reads the questions and writes the answers.

Regarding the claim that there are non-dyslexics that abuse this extra time for exams policy, there are 2 replies that I wish to make:

  1. “Data now demonstrate that it is only students who are dyslexic who benefit from additional time. Thus, such college students increase their scores substantially (e.g., 13th percentile to 76th percentile), while typical readers when given extra time on exams increase their scores few to no points (82nd percentile to 83rd percentile).*” – this is taken from Yale’s University website. This research demonstrates that people who really do not have a real difficulty in Reading and Writing will not gain real benefits with the extra time allocated to exams.
  2. So if everybody cheated in a test, should someone who did not cheat be punished too? The obvious answer is NO. By getting additional exam time, the dyslexic student is simply getting equivalent testing conditions as other students. He is not cheating the system. If other students are supposedly “cheating the system”, then let the system take responsibility to stop this cheating without punishing the ones who deserve this benefit; and the system should do so without making the person with dyslexia feel subconscious about getting the benefit he justifiably deserves…

So was I rude when I interrupted my work colleagues’ conversation and loudly stated their ignorance on this topic, perhaps. But it is time to loudly state the rights of the dyslexic community and to educate the public regarding what is dyslexia and what must be done in order to enable dyslexics to fully and hopefully easily integrate into society… and this definitely includes GETTING EXTRA EXAM TIME.


* M. K. Runyan, The Effects of Extratime. In S. Shaywitz & B. Shaywitz, eds., Attention Deficit Disorder Comes of Age: Toward the 21st Century; Austin, Texas: Pro-Ed, 1992.


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Dyslexia, Writing Assistive Technology and Text-to-Speech

People with dyslexia usually have a hard time in both reading and writing. Letters and words get jumbled up in their minds during both reading and writing processes. Reading abilities may be affected by how tired the dyslexic reader is, or how much concentration is needed to comprehend the reading of a certain page.

Writing is usually a stressful process for a person with dyslexia. The person with dyslexia is aware of his problematic writing and knows that he must be on full alert in order to minimize his spelling mistakes. He must dedicate his full concentration to the writing process.

Writing Assistive Technologies focus on providing advanced spell checking algorithms for dyslexics. These are specially tuned algorithms that take into account that dyslexics usually spell really badly and that many times even when giving their full attention can not determine what is the correct spelling.

Integrating Text-to-Speech (TTS) to Writing Assistive Technologies can dramatically improve the writing experience of a dyslexic. There are two main benefits:

  • The first benefit is using Text-to-Speech as the dyslexic’s writing gatekeeper. Sometimes, a person with dyslexia just can not figure out himself the correct spelling of a word, even after proof-reading what he had just written. However, if the text can be read out loud to him, then usually by his understanding of what is being read, and by the pronunciation of the words that he is hearing he can confidently determine if what he had written is correct.
  • The other benefit is that the integrated Text-to-Speech feature enables a person with dyslexia to focus better on his writing. As mentioned above, reading for a dyslexic may also be a stressful event requiring his full attention. If the reading “effort” can be reduced then the person with dyslexia can be more “mentally free” to focus on his writing. The Writing Assistive Technology should have Text-to-Speech integrated at all levels of the product, enabling the user to decide, what he wants to be read out loud: the suspicious word, the meaning of the word (if provided), the full or part of the sentence he just corrected.

Ghotit Writing Assistive Technology solution has a fully integrated Text-to-Speech functionality. Today, whenever I write, I wear my headphones, and have the Text-to-Speech feature assist me in my writing.

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Dyslexia and Marriage

I celebrated this week my 10th wedding anniversary. My wife recently submitted an article titled “Dyslexia and Marriage”, summarizing her 10-year ride of being married to a dyslexic (meaning me). In the article, my wife narrates our 10-year relationship that starts with the initial understanding of what is dyslexia, continues with understanding the implications of living with a person with dyslexia, and ends with the dreams and hopes wished for our children.
I would like to share with you this article. It is in the initial process of being distributed and can be found at: Dyslexia and Marriage.

I will let Mr. Frank Sinatra be my voice about  “Love and Marriage”.

Dyslexia, Charlie Brown and Dilbert

For many years I have been a big fan of both Charlie Brown and Dilbert. That of course is not surprising. Charlie Brown and Dilbert are two extremely popular comics’ heroes. However, when I read somewhere that both the creators of Charlie Brown (creator Charles M. Schulz) and Dilbert (creator Scott Adams) where dyslexic I started wondering if perhaps there was a connection. Perhaps it was not accidental that the two characters that I adored, their creators where dyslexic, exactly like me.

Charlie Brown is presented as a boy that nothing ever goes right for him. But Charlie Brown refuses to give up and possesses an endless amount of determination and hope. I love Charlie Brown’s motto “NEVER EVER GIVE UP”. As you can see, I have adopted the picture with this motto as the graphical icon of this blog…

Dilbert on the other had is a grownup working in a work environment where employees’ skills and efforts are not rewarded and where the most ineffective and least-competent workers are the ones that are promoted to management positions.

When I started thinking about it I realized that as a person with dyslexia it is quite easy for me to identify with these two characters.

As a child, my struggle with learning, reading and writing was a continuous one. I have many negative memories from school and remember it mainly as a place that promoted my insecurities due to my learning differences. However, these experiences drove me to “NEVER EVER GIVE UP”, no matter the difficulties, insecurities and failures. And in this point I truly relate with good old Charlie…

When I grew up and joined the workforce, I felt sometimes that I was working in a Dilbert-like workplace. This too may be related to my dyslexia. Being a dyslexic, my written communications and presentations where not as well “packaged” as those of my co-workers. Sometimes I felt that I was being judged not by my actual contribution, but rather by this external “package” that I carried.

Well here’s to you Charlie Brown – thanks for providing me with multiple scenes where even though your luck seemed to be running out – you never lost your good-heartiness and hope…

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjFE9uy3N38&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

And here’s to you Dilbert – thanks for demonstrating in a comical, cynical light the ridiculous aspects a workplace may have…

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f35bQPAYhIE&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]

Dyslexia: Different Ability, Not Disability

This is a short follow up to my previous blog “What if over 50% of the Population had Dyslexia?

People with dyslexia simply have different abilities, not disabilities. What may seem as a simple word game may have profound affects on a dyslexic’s  self value and confidence. In addition, it may frame the mind set of the overall educational systems and workplaces.

I recently viewed a very cool video exactly on this topic, and really want to share it with you. It is titled “Special Deeds for Special Needs”. So here it is, enjoy:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndlqh38bZmU&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0]