"Putting on the Game Face"
|Confessions of a Closet Dyslexic
One of the first rules you learn as a dyslexic is not to advertise your disability. By that I mean when you screw up don’t go blabbing it about. When you do something characteristically stupid and are called on it, go ahead and admit to as much as the error requires but don’t feel obliged to explain any more than necessary. Running off at the mouth only makes matters worse.
I know my army of interested readers is curious as to what prompted this pronouncement and in keeping with the rule I intend to stay mum. Suffice it to say I botched the course schedule in my mind for next terms New Horizons Academy where I am teaching the One Act play and spent the afternoon “Unbotching” it on my course pages and covering up the evidence. I should write a book about a bad guy who is dyslexic and how good he is at covering his tracks.
In my profession my peers often noted what they viewed as peculiarities in my actions but attributed them to eccentricities. I religiously kept to a calendar , written schedule and a rolodex full of telephone numbers. Without aids I often couldn’t tell you what day of the month it was or even the year. Some things just don’t feed well into my bio processor. The upside was that I could organize complex requirements into outlines and memorize those outlines and all the information therein. When the time came to explain something I could do so off the cuff, using my mental outlines and speak to the issues with words of lucid understanding. Using imagination I would game play scenarios and was able to anticipate most everything that came along. When occasionally, taken by surprise, I was in deep water but those occasions were rare and in crisis I always performed well above my peers, using general preconceived contingency plans. So there it is, my dirty little secret, and it is almost a relief to admit to it after all those years keeping it under wraps.
While teaching at Ft. Leavenworth I heard about a case where it was discovered an officer, who had attained the rank of Captain, was found incapable of writing a coherent paper without the help of his wife. He knew his stuff but just couldn’t get it down so at night he would talk to her and she would write his papers and he would memorize them. Once the lines were memorized he could write them as well as anyone but when it came to structuring something new he was in a “Hurt locker.” His instructor gave the class an unprogramed writing assignment and he “Tubed it” in the worst sort of way and one thing led to another until they discovered he couldn’t write a handful of simple sentences and combine them into a paragraph.
For me the ability to learn to write was an agony. I remember the experience in the 4th and 5th grades and it was tied to a difficulty reading. I was also socially behind and flunked the 5th grade and the frustration levels were so high I used to be baited and fight on the play ground and finally in the classroom. My teacher and a Librarian worked out a plan when it looked like I was about to pop my cork I went to the library. Ms. Henderson started me reading out loud and then silently with harder and harder books….adventure novels…The three musketeers, Captain Blood… Scaramouch and slowly I got the hang of reading and one morning I woke up with one heck of a vocabulary and on top of that could write… It was like learning a foreign language….I read voraciously, a book a day, however it was all sight and sound, and grammar rules never made much sense except that I could recite them verbatim. Don’t ask me today to explain the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb. Don’t get me started on math.