I’ve been thinking about ways I could show audiences how dyslexia looks and feels to my eyes and brain. The opportunity presented itself as I traveled throughout the country giving talks. People often ask me about sports, and the Vikings in particular, when they hear I’m from Minnesota. I’m not a big football fan, or a fan of any sports for that matter. No offense, I’d just rather be active and play than sit back and watch.
I don’t know many players’ names, but there’s one smiling, friendly guy I’ve always liked. I tend to forget his name but I constantly think it’s Randall, and I know he played for the Vikings and the Bears. People try to guess his name, but then I remind them that words look different to me and I’m not sure his name actually is Randall. They give me a list of names, but none of them are quite right; what I focus on is that he’s always smiling.
Then someone gets it; they say Jared Allen, and that’s the right name!
How does a name like Jared Allen look like Randall at all? Looking at the example below, there are similar letters, and though they may not be in the same order, in my mind it’s not easy to discern the difference.
RANDALL or JARED ALLEN
Letters get jumbled, and in my case, sometimes not all of them are there. I see things differently. Not always wrong, but always differently. Personally, I see words in pictures; that’s how my brain processes them. Many people are judgmental and misunderstand how a brain with a learning disability works. Those of us with one might be weak in spelling or reading but might be more empathetic, articulate or understanding. Just because people learn in different ways, doesn’t mean they’re lacking or lesser in some way; they just view the world differently.
Do you know someone with dyslexia? Do you understand what they see?
Are you able to look at something with fresh eyes to get a new perspective?
What might you be misunderstanding when it comes to others?