Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sally Gardner: Dyslexia is not a disease

It always struck me as strange that as a child I should be saddled with a word that I could neither pronounce or spell.

I look back at my education with a sense of bewildered frustration, I had no idea why I should be shown a picture of a boat and when the picture was taken away I was, as if by magic, supposed to know what the picture spelt.

It didn't matter how many phonic nutcases shouted at me saying B-O-A-T. Even now I have no idea whether o goes before a or a goes before o. And does it matter?

In those days it was called word blindness. I wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until I was 11. It was of no value in school that I was visually or emotionally intelligent. Still, in 2011, these qualities in a child are often overlooked in favour of academic intelligence.

I believe we waste too many children in this country by failing to see the gifts they have. Instead we see dyslexia as a problem.

The word associated with dyslexia in schools, that I absolutely hate, is special needs. Our special needs are that the non dyslexic world stop telling us how we should be learning or what magic cure they have for us.

It's not a disease. People need to see what it has to offer, and not look at it as a negative. It's a misconception that because you are dyslexic you don't like books. In fact, although I couldn't read them, I always thought words beautiful hieroglyphics that I longed to be able to translate.

The first book I ever read, at the ripe old age of 14, was Wuthering Heights. I think it was because everyone had given up on me that I finally broke the code.

Up to the age of 21, it seemed to me that everybody had a cinema in their heads and could see a book as you would see a film: playing out in their mind's eye.

I was studying theatre design at Central St Martins at the time, and working on The Tempest, when I first realised the director I was working with couldn't see a thing.

He was visually blind. I can't tell you how cross that made me. All those years I had been able to see in 3D in my head.

I had my own visual landscape and I realised that I was rich in an imagination that has turned out to be invaluable.

All those years of only being told I was stupid, thick. A moron, brain like a sieve. Still those negative voices haunt me.

Read the full article here: Sally Gardner: Dyslexia is not a disease - Telegraph

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