Dear Dr. Gott: This letter is a lifetime overdue. Six years ago, I turned 69. During that year, I had numerous medical problems that have nothing to do with this letter.
However, I spent a lot of time in the hospital, which I used for thinking and reading. I realized I had been suffering from dyslexia all my life and didn’t know it. I just thought I was dumb.
I have had a terrible time all my life with reading, spelling, studying and writing.
I still must work very hard to remember something, only to forget it.
I have notes to myself all over the house, in my car, purse and everywhere else.
I could never figure out how actresses could remember all those words and still include facial expressions while performing. I still don’t.
At this age, I can work my life around being dyslexic, but the other day our son asked my husband and me, “Where do I get my bad memory from? I can’t remember anything and I forget almost everything I should remember.” I felt so bad. I do remember what a hard time he had studying, reading, spelling and writing. He has the same problem I have. I just don’t know how he made it through college. He’s 41, but I would really like to help him. Is the disorder inherited?
I know my son and I are not alone. I could not get through this letter if it weren’t for spellcheck and the dictionary. Please, please dedicate a column to all the people out there who are going through this.
Dear Reader: Dyslexia is an impairment of the brain’s ability to translate written images received from the eyes into understandable language. It is thought to be the most common learning disability in children and ordinarily presents in youngsters with normal intelligence and vision.
Symptoms may be difficult to interpret before a child enters school. Prior to kindergarten, children may have difficulties rhyming words, and they may be late talkers. Once in a school atmosphere, they may have difficulties understanding what is being said, remembering sequential commands, may read at a level below what is expected for their age, and may see words or letters backward. For example, a “b” may look like a “d.” This can be common for children without the diagnosis. The difference is that once the child is in the second or third grade, this situation will not correct itself.
Diagnosis may be made through psychological assessment, evaluation of educational skills, and visual and neurological testing.
There is no cure for dyslexia, and the only treatment is remedial education. The earlier this begins, the better a child can cope and function with the disorder. Often, psychological testing is used to develop a custom teaching program that involves a multisensory approach. This includes using hearing, vision and touch to improve reading rather than simply using books and text.
That said, your inability to remember things and your constant need to write notes to yourself is not a symptom of dyslexia, and I can’t be sure that you even have the disorder. I urge both you and your son to undergo psychological and neurological testing to determine the cause of forgetfulness and learning difficulties. While dyslexia may be a part of your and your son’s difficulty, I am not convinced it is the entire problem.