I spent the first 30 years of my life not knowing I had dyslexia. My education was rather traumatic and constantly stressful for me. Mathematics classes were an absolute nightmare with several teachers pronouncing me “stupid”, “an imbecile”, “not trying hard enough” “fundamentally lazy” and “an idiot”. My general stupidity in the mathematics department was also blamed on my migrant family’s origins and my mother was ordered to “speak English” at home in order to fix the problem. Yeah, right. The judgemental verbal summations of my level of intelligence were sometimes accompanied by a belting from one particularly reprehensible species of primary school teacher who really should have been locked up in the interests of public safety. “Mrs X” was a nasty, vituperative piece of work who obviously projected her unhappiness in life on her hapless prepubescent victims in the classroom. The years of labelling ended up with me thinking I must surely be a “idiot” as proclaimed so many times. Yes, I was stupid and that’s it. No more explanations necessary. What a revelation!
When I turned 30, I entered into a programme to propel me from the “idiot” status to university student, thanks to a mature age programme. I planned on studying psychology but had to give that up as a bad joke after struggling through an introductory class of statistics. It was the humanities for me after that foray. Great discussions with the tutor as to why positive and negative numbers should add up differently to her “correct” answers led me to just give up on it and concentrate elsewhere.
To cut a long story short, the purpose of this little piece today is to highlight that there are so many different types of intelligence in this world and I fail to see why one form of acceptable intelligence based on numbers should rule the roost. One of my lecturers was brilliant in her field of endeavour and she would lecture with no notes at all, so complex and vast was her level of knowledge on her subject yet she had to hire an electrician to come and change a light bulb.
My husband and I visited a regional bookshop around this time and great hoots of laughter rudely interrupted “serious book lovers” in that vast store as I had discovered a particularly interesting book title that appealed to my vulgar sense of humour. Yes, I had picked out a slim softcover book from the burgeoning bookshelf in order to gasp with delight and loud laughter when I saw the book title read, “Creating Flatulence”. Flatulence! What on earth did flatulence have anything to do with the sober books in this section which was clearly marked “Business and Finance”? I screeched to my husband in the next aisle, “Look look! A book about farting! Only in Australia would you see a book about farting!” I laughed away until my husband picked up the book from my flapping hands and took a look at the title …..”Creating Affluence” What a let down! All the customers in the shop and the staff were staring at me, wondering what on earth I had found so funny in the serious “Business and Finance” aisle.
So I have dyslexia. Big deal. This is my life and my personal reality. I don’t feel sorry for myself one little bit. I make do the best I can with things that irk me to this day and focus on more of what I can do. I have to read things a few times in order to try and pick up errors. I have developed my own accounting system I can understand and I generally and quite studiously avoid looking at the clock, the kitchen timer, lists of numbers. Thanks to years of living in the country, I can generally gauge the time of the day by looking at the sky, rather than rely on a clock. I can only remember groups of numbers in numerical syllables of three and I have to have a “singing pattern” in my mind to remember the sequence. Phone numbers are a real killer and I even have problems remembering our home phone number at times. Mobile phone numbers are another real killer as they are partially presented in groups of four numbers. As for following written instructions on how to do anything – forget it! I am a visual person which is probably why I have turned to art. Even so, I have a high IQ, much to my surprise.
What I do spend time on is bead embroidery. Self taught in this endeavour as I have done with most skills in this life. Following “recipes” and “patterns” has been too difficult and irksome for me. I create with the needle and beading thread and inspiration. The best thing about dyslexia is that it forces one to explore alternative ways of doing things. Now, that I do find appealing in a very big way as it liberates ones thought processes. Seize the moment I say and enjoy it and don’t bother worrying about what other people say. Don’t be quick to comment on the intelligence of people in this world. There are different forms of intelligence and we must learn to respect them all.