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21 Nov 2007

I find I'm dyslexic after 17 years of education

A discovery I made a little earlier whilst at university. I had heard of some people receiving free computers to help them with their studies. But alas these people were dyslexic. I love computers, and I really need a new one. How can I wangle myself a free computer? Although I haven't found it particularly hard this year, I have had trouble with the way it is taught. It just doesn't seem to match me. It just seems that these some subjects are inherently hard. And in fact, I always seem to be running out of time in exams. In a way, I had been having trouble with my work. Isn’t this service designed for the mentally handicapped, disabled or with learning difficulties? People really in the shit?

But then again, perhaps they give out help to anyone who is having just basic problems with studies. Might as well check it out. I might even be exaggerating on the test a little.

I find the place I need to be to get my free computer. Hidden at the bottom of the open access computer building I find a whole area I hadn't seen before. Looking at the walls this must be a support place for the mentally handicapped and disabled. Billboards advertise support for all manner of ills. Wheelchair advertisements, support groups, charities, religious groups.

All of a sudden I feel cold feet.

I wasn't planning on pretending to be disabled for the sake of a £800 computer. The thought of this is momentarily forgotten as I notice a message on the wall `If you are blind or partially sighted, we may be able to provide assistance during lectures. Contact us for advice and support on the following number…`

Shit. I'm called in.

Well, no backing out now. You wanna lie? Well here you are, you're in and now you better lie good. Start limping and do it good because this is for real.

Fortunately the woman in the office is very amicable. Very amicable indeed. No. Not amicable. A saint. A true saint. The sort of person you see on TV receiving the Mother Teresa Heart of Gold Award for being a kind and selfless person. This isn't helping my conscience.

I feel dirty.

The student support woman explains what help is available for people with learning difficulties. Involuntarily, and as soon as she mentions the phrase `Learning Difficulties` my mind immediately wanders to the Goonies and that horribly disfigured character. Dropped on his head as a child this hunchback of notra-dame, but fully grown... growth of a man is completely dependant on his mother for support. He scares small children with a face like a fried breakfast. He knows not right from wrong. He can do no wrong and he has done nothing wrong. Yet he is treated as a freak.

This will be the hopelessly inflicted from whom I will be stealing from.

I feel ill.

Never-the-less an `appointment` is made…


My god, a qualified doctor is going to examine me. You've played some ruses in your time sister but this takes the biscuit. Desperate measures are required. Perhaps I should bash myself with a breakfast frying pan to echo it's nutritional contents to my face?

After having time to sleep on it I look up some details on dyslexia. I don't do much looking but perhaps this is not what is as first appears. I'll read more when I get time later, it’s time to go.

I can't back out. I decide to attend my appointment. Besides, I feel cocky. Nothing to lose. I don't know these people. Could be interesting. Let's have some fun.

Waiting for the examiner to arrive I begin to consider my actions. Will I lie? Will I exaggerate? What if I say I was dropped on my head as a teenager? – would damage at a later age be plausible?

Let's just take it as it comes.

I am not a con-man. As a child it was a thrill to eat penny-sweets without paying for them. I still feel guilty about that. That was the limit of my criminal ways.

There comes a time when a man is given the chance to serve for his sins. Now is my time. I conduct the test with honesty.

Indeed I pass the spelling test with flying colours.

Somehow the examiner seems non-judgemental.

This test it seems, is in fact one test of many interesting and some unusual tests. The term `Learning Difficulties` I infer, must be a general heading for a series of problems of which Dyslexia and spelling is but one. The tests continue.

By the end of testing I am very much intrigued. Some of these tests are really very basic. I ask the examiner and my world begins to change.

"Yes" he says. Some of these tests you will find easy. People with dyslexia are often talented in different ways to the majority.

I had been tricked! Instead of failing the tests to get a free computer, some of them I needed to do well at!

Crafty psychology types indeed.

The examiner only explained a little. Things start to change. Later I would learn that Dyslexia isn't a disease. In fact Dyslexia is not a disability. Dyslexia is a side effect to a type of intelligence. By being intelligent, that is, talented at associating data, here there is a compromise on memory. And there is much more to memory than spelling!

Instead of wangling a free computer on the sly, I ended up with MUCH more than I bargained for. I learnt that I am, in the words of my former self, `a spacko`.


I have learnt, without he aide of any sod, that I associate widely. And in the process of being so open minded, the cost of this talent is that I lose address to sequence and order. Especially with numbers. This can be annoying, and it has cost me many opportunities, job interviews and careers. But I am proud, because I am different. In fact, it is a hallmark of all that is interesting and cool about myself. Interesting people don't pass examines at school or win spelling tests. Interesting people are creative by associating the data that enters their` everyday experience. This is talent, this is the urge to be creative. This is the kind of thing that makes us human.

I think it's amazing that I've gone through so many years of education and not one person spotted this. It wasn't spotted at first school, middle school, upper school or college. It wasn't even spotted at University. Only when I'm just getting to the finish line do I find out why I despise education so much!

So what now? What now to do with this new knowledge? For one, I am going to find out as much as I can about the gypsies. Perhaps I can find something about that oast that I haven't investigated. Something that feels odd and unusual. Where this feels strange, that is the area to pursue to make new discoveries. Here this is clear because of the contrast to where I grew up but what of my other side of the family? Can I learn anything there too?

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