Two of my friends are dyslexic. I just found out today after having known both of them for at least three years. We had lunch and the conversation turned to their children’s experiences with dyslexia–being tested, their grades or being held back a grade, and how they are exceptional in every subject except reading and writing. And my friends could relate because they were held back a grade or almost held back, too. I had to interrupt with, “Wait. You’re dyslexic?”
I was shocked because both of these friends are avid readers and I didn’t notice anything weird about their handwriting. It was funny because I just kept looking at them with my mouth open. It was like I was expecting there to be some kind of outward appearance to single them out. I pictured a neon, blinking arrow pointing to their heads with “dyslexic” in cursive writing labeling them before I laughed at myself. Of course, there is nothing to point them out. I guess I was just taken by surprise finding that I did not know these two friends as well as I thought.
There seems to be an acute fear of reading aloud associated with dyslexia. One friend overcame it by practicing reading her scriptures aloud while pregnant with her first child. She said it took almost the whole nine months to be able to do it without fear, but she wanted so badly to be able to read to her child. Now, she loves reading to all of her children (she has six of them!). I was in awe listening to their stories and what they go through whenever they are asked to read aloud in church or in other public settings.
I, on the other hand, am the read aloud hog. When we read scriptures together at home, I have to calm myself when it’s someone else’s turn, but if someone is showing signs of illness (like excessive coughing) I jump in and take their verses–as if I were doing them a kindness. In Sunday School settings, I have to stop myself from raising my hand every time the teacher calls for a reader–especially if I have already had a chance to read. I have to say to myself, “Let the other kids have a turn!”
I did go through a time when public speaking caused me to stutter severely and shake uncontrollably, so I can understand a little of the anxiety that comes with reading aloud in public, but I know that it’s nothing compared to what it would be like trying to train your brain to recognize letters long enough to learn how to read the word and then be asked to do that process in front of other people without making mistakes.
I now love my friends better knowing how much of their bravery and determination has played a part in building their characters, education, and guidance of their own children. I learn a lot from them and I’m glad to be associated with them. I will endeavor to have more patience with others who do not read aloud as quickly or as readily as I do, and I will be on the look out for more opportunities to learn more about my friends.