Posted in Writing

Living with Dyslexia– What still trips me up after 20 years

If you came here from my other Writing Characters with Dyslexia blogs, welcome. This one might be slightly more personal but should still help you get a better understanding of how to write your characters. Dyslexia, as I have said, is different for everyone, but here is what I still have trouble with after years of help.

Sentence Structure

If you were to meet me in person or text back and forth with me you would find a lot of run on sentences and misplaced words. Maybe you can even tell just reading my articles. I use words I know how to spell rather than the first word I thought of. For instance ‘tired’ becomes ‘exhausted’  because the latter is easier for me to remember. When talking, I will really closely mimic people I look up to using emphasis in the same places as them and the same word choice.

Tone of Voice

I get so carried away trying to figure out what people are saying that I don’t listen to what their tone of voice is saying. I’m awful at sarcasm even though I use it quite a bit. No one can tell when I’m being sarcastic and I can’t tell when they are either. This is applicable to all cues you get from tone of voice.

Spanish and French

Any language that uses the same alphabet as English is near impossible for me to read or understand. However, I’m much better at Japanese because EVERYTHING is different. I learn from the ground up all over again and can’t relate it to English in the least.

Commas

Even though I know the rules of where to place them, commas illude me. I have to use auto correct to get them in almost all situations. I also will combine sentences with commas instead of using a period. Thank god I live in modern America!

I hope this helped you write more realistic characters or understand dyslexia more. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me either in the comments or on my contact page!

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Writing characters with Dyslexia

Growing up dyslexic I can confirm that the hardest part is learning to spell dyslexia. For you writers out there, let me condense some of your research and give you a good starting point. Let’s start with the physical changes to the brain.

There are lots of different kinds of dyslexia that effect different parts of the brain. Simply put, there are the people who struggle with writing, reading, math or a combination of the three. Though the idea that the left and right parts of the brain are reserved for analytic skills and art skills respectively, the brain is wired differently for dyslexics. Information is essentially rerouted through different parts of the brain. Dyslexia is currently on the autism spectrum so that’s a good thing to research.

Trouble with reading.

Keep in mind that this is all how I experienced dyslexia. Letters are most often what we get mixed up. Specifically, “B” and “D” whose lowercase forms are almost exactly the same. For me, I only read the first 3 or so letters of a word and the guess the rest based on context. When I was young I would only read the first letter and then one letter later in the word. Another issue is word order. My eyes go faster than my brain can compute so I often read (and even type) the word that comes after the current word. For example: Are there only two cans of paint? Might turn into: Are there two cans of paint, only?

Conjunctions still tripped me up as a teenage and spell check is what taught me how to read them.

Writing with dyslexia.

In addition to the things under the reading section, there are many issues with writing. Capital letters have always confused me.  I still capitalize random letters in a sentence, usually a word I want to put emphasis on.

Where to end a sentence as well as Word order, have always Confused me.

Translation: I’ve always been confused by both word order and where to end a sentence.

The last thing is many, many spelling errors. When in dough, we spell things how they sound. Spellcheck is one of my best friends. The worst thing is when I spell a word so wrong that spell check can’t find it.

My most common errors:

Reallistic should be realistic.

Cowaparate is actually cooperate

Crismas means Christmas

Sean is supposed to be scene

Sighen should be sign

And any name presents trouble

Math. Stupid math.

I have issues with all three of these but none are quite like math. + becomes -. Dividing turns to multiplication. 1205 might be 1502. Checking each line is the only way I get anything right. I do steps out of order, my notes are messy numbers are written backward, I leave out parts of numbers. Oh, by the way, if your dyslexia is introduced to algebra, expect them to start out with y= X*2 and end up with W=z2 (not like that was even a math problem, to begin with).

Some dyslexics are amazing at math. I really like to write but can’t do math to pass a class. Adding in my head is still terribly hard. Telling time is difficult, and you better hope I have a calendar because tomorrow is Thursday the 5th and the day after that is Wednesday the 7th .

A note on our thoughts.

Being dyslexic doesn’t men were dumb, I started college at age 16. We just think differently. I wrote my first books at age six, and entirely in camera angles. Without tutoring, however, we can get the lowest grades in the class. Come up with a redeeming quirky quality for your dyslexic character. Something artsy is most realistic.

Find part 2 Here!

Get My Guide to Writing Lovable Characters Here!