Can’t Spell… You May (Or May Not) Be Dyslexic

My sister is dyslexic. She struggled through school and most of her life. She wasn’t diagnosed until she was in her fifties so you can imagine how frustrating things were for her when she was young in the 60’s and 70’s, and no one knew what dyslexia was or what to do about it. And that was only one of her issues. Things did not come easy for my sister.

Things for me on the other hand were pretty easy. I survived school with decent marks and went on to study at several different post secondary institutions. What I did struggle with was spelling and chemistry compound abbreviations and number letter combinations such as the letter combinations in piano chords, which are my latest struggle. Oh, and word problems. You remember those ones in math class that often started with something simple like, if an imaginary vehicle is travelling at… or Jane has 17 pieces of unbreakable candy… followed by a whole paragraph of information that I would need to decipher before getting to the math part. Word problems are the reason I couldn’t finish my statistics course and ended up with a Liberal Studies Degree rather than a Business Degree. I had all the other courses. All of them!

Dyslexia is a pretty serious subject, so after reading an article on the subject, I was surprised to learn that it can affect 15 to 20 percent of the population, that it runs in families and that has its own spectrum where it can be quite extreme or as mild as not being able to spell. At this point, I did what most of us do when we are interested in learning more about a topic. I visited Google. And, of course, Google had tons of information.

There were several tests for adults that I found very interesting so I decided to take one just to see if any of them pertain to me. The one I took was multiple choice with the following choices. Very Often. Often. Sometimes. Rarely. Never. So here it is with my results:

Do you need to read a sentence or paragraph three or four times before you “get it”? – Rarely. 

Do you avoid situations where you’ll have to read out loud? – Very often. More like always!

Do you mix up letters or forget them entirely when writing? – Sometimes. I also transpose words in sentences when reading and writing.

Do you misspell common words — misspelling them a different way every time? – Very Often. Again more like always!

Do you find yourself reading slower than most people you know? – Never. 

Do you avoid projects that involve a lot of reading? – Rarely. Unless the topic is boring.

Have you found yourself turning down promotions or opportunities for advancement in your career? – Very Often. There were other circumstances for this. See Out Of Control.

Do you struggle to pronounce long words out loud, even if you know them? – Often.

Are you accused of “not listening” because you can’t summarize or recall details of a recent conversation? – Rarely. I am hermit so the opportunity is rare. Most of the time no one listens to me either.

Do you lose your place when reading, even if the topic is interesting to you? – Sometimes

Do you get lost when following directions, or confuse your left for your right? – Often. I have no sense of direction and like to have things written in point form using landmarks where possible. My sister always confuses left and right. She has all her life. She has issues with shoes.

Do you confuse or forget the names of common household objects — calling a fork a spoon, for instance? – Rarely. My sister used to mix up BBQ and cucumber when she was little. We just thought it was cute.

Do you have very particular requirements for your favorite fonts, paper color, or other visuals while at work?  – Never. As a former graphic designer, I guess this was a good thing.

Other sites had other options that I could tick off as symptoms (a word I can’t spell). Symptoms like the following:

Trouble remembering names – oh yes.

Struggling to pronounce unknown words when reading out loud – definitely.

Becoming self-conscious when speaking to a group; using filler words or starting and stopping sentences repeatedly – always.

Disliking administrative work like repetitive forms – hell yes.

Creating complex coping mechanisms to hide difficulties from coworkers – Holy crap! I’ve been doing this all my life and not just with coworkers.

So does all this make me dyslexic? (A word I keep spelling wrong by the way.) Who knows! What I do know is that some of the online information can have me believing that I could be on the dyslexic spectrum, especially since it does run in families. But I also know that there are many symptoms that I do not have, which makes me very lucky; and up until this point, I have managed just fine so I am going to stick with being quirky because it works for me and sums up all my idiosyncrasies.

A big thanks to Siri for all the correct spellings in this blog including the word idiosyncrasies.

Thank you for reading.

Photo:  Rob Hobson, Unsplash

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26 thoughts on “Can’t Spell… You May (Or May Not) Be Dyslexic

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. My sister has overcome a lot of issues. She works with seniors doing home care. She does things I couldn’t do. She is a super hero. I wrote a blog about her in August 2019 as a birthday gift for her and to express my admiration.


      1. Aww, that’s so sweet. It definitely inspired me. Reading it made me think of my mom going her entire life undiagnosed with mental illness because it wasn’t heard of or spoken of during her time especially in the south.
        I’m happy that your sister has overcome her challenges & sounds like she had a great support system with you! 👏

        Liked by 1 person

  1. that was interesting. I am glad that there seems to be much more help for students today who are diagnosed with dyslexia. so the web site where you answered all those questions – it doesn’t give you an overall “score” to see if you are on the spectrum?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most websites and tests say the usual about seeing your doctor if you have a certain number of symptoms. The test I included actually had a link to click if you wanted the results sent to you, but I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole and give out my email address. So I guess I will never really know.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. We’ve been pretty ignorant to dyslexia until the last 10-20 years. I know thousands of kids were never diagnosed with this condition years ago because people were unaware. Even sadder, many of these children were brilliant children who simply had a reading disability. Some of the kids I taught with dyslexia were the brightest kids in the class.

    One of the things I’ve noticed about myself as I’ve gotten older is I have many more instances of getting letters in the wrong order. I notice it right away, but I will frequently spell words like rain as rain. I should investigate why this happens more now. Perhaps it’s simply part of the aging process, but it’s much more noticeable now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My sister failed grade nine because her math teacher told my mother the she (the teacher) didn’t have time for the kids who wouldn’t make it. The following year my sister got a tutor and a different math teacher recognized that she could do the stuff but needed more time so he let her come back during as many free classes and lunches she needed to finish her her tests. Her math mark was very high that year and although she still struggled with reading comprehension and other things, she passed the year.


  3. Wow, that was fascinating. My younger brother (now 50) has terrible dyslexia- completely failed school, and is still a very poor reader and writer- I could go so far as to say the lack of support with it kinda ruined his life…

    Whereas I am such a reader and writer, a grammar nazi, and do copy editing for cash sometimes! Plus run a blog 🙂 Congratulations are due to both you and your sister for persevering.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I definitely can’t read out loud but then I attribute this to being a loner and not speaking much anyway. I don’t think many people like public speaking but I don’t think it’s a sign of anything – I think you just have to be super-confident to enjoy it – and probably a gregarious person.

    I’ve never had trouble spelling and used to even beat the teacher sometimes. I have trouble HANDwriting words and miss letters out but never have any problems when typing. Again, I hardly ever write anything by hand though. I probably didn’t struggle at school.

    I’ve never confused left and right and, when either reading or hearing directions, can picture the route in my head – but I put that down to having to map read and route-plan a lot on the hill.

    Confusing names of every day things is generally thought to be early signs of dementia! It’s starting to come on a bit with me now where I can’t remember the name of an object but I force myself to bring it to mind for practice to stave degeneration off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we are all getting some of those early signs of dementia. As far as public speaking, in my case, some of it is just nerves. I have been known to hyper ventilate during and vomit beforehand. Confidence is certainly an issue. I am ok if I use visual aids. A trick I learned years ago in university when I actually had to take a public speaking class. Unfortunately using visual aids was the last class.


      1. Yep I found exactly the same when I was doing my Open University degree – I wasn’t too bad about public speaking if I could use visual aids. It means they’re looking at the board/screen or whatever instead of you!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve noticed this happening with me in the last few years: Sometimes when I go back to proofread something that I’m working on, I’ll find a word that doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m trying to express, and I don’t remember typing that word. I know what the word SHOULD be, but it’s nowhere near what I’m seeing. And I can’t blame spellcheck because the words are so different. It’s almost as if someone else was in the driver’s seat for just the briefest of seconds.

    I have a feeling that when my mind goes, it’s going to go HARD. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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