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I'm no Dodo

I have woken up at stupid o'clock on this Sunday morning. I blame the ageing process. So I thought I'd get on with planning and materials making. Revved up Keynote, and started making a collocations mini book for next week.

And then gazed at the screen with deep suspicion. There were several words that my dyslexic spidey senses told me should be triggering the red underling that is my lifeline to correct spelling. But they weren't. Checked all the options. Spellcheck was turned on EVERYWHERE on the app and the iPad. The App union had set up a picket line and Keynote was no scab.

Oh woe is dyslexic me.

Whenever I hit a roadblock that shoves my Dyslexic TEFLness to the fore, I get a mini flashback with a hot wave of shame. I relive being there when my mother was told I was dyslexic.

I was 10. At boarding school (RAF baby, they paid). I didn't get to go home, after so my mum must have been called in specially. Everybody stood for the whole 10 minute meeting. Me, mum and the teacher. Teacher said in a hushed and Very Grave Tone "I'm afraid Mini-preTEFL-Ninja is dyslexic". 

Pretty much I thought I had some murderous disease at that point. Due to my drama queen tendencies, which kicked in young. I had a moment of flash-forward where I was a 70s style "What Katy Did", which was mainly dropping dead, while everybody wailed at my graveside wishing they had been Much Nicer to me.

I only realised I wasn't a dying swan when a tiny, brown book was handed to mum with strict instructions that I was to make the effort to use it. Not much point handing it to mum. She was leaving in a matter of minutes. So she ceremoniously handed to me. Like a book shaped Holy Grail. I only realised this whole, weird, freaking-me-out meeting was about my Black Dog when I opened it. 

Tiny print. 

Word after word. 

Rewritten with dashes like this.


Not sure exactly how that was supposed to help given I couldn't even use a normal dictionary because I never knew what the next letter was. You try finding a word in a dictionary when you don't know what letters are in it, nor in which order. It's as useful as a chocolate teapot in that context. 

Nor was I given any indication as to how I was supposed to use this tiny, brown book. Which was worrying. Because the air was thick with the expectation that if just pulled my finger out and utilised this wonderful, curative gift.... things would be instantly different. 

Nothing like a wodge of pressure in a vacuum of know-how to make a 10 year old hyper ventilate on the inside. 

Nobody *ever* explained how it was supposed to work, nor what I was supposed to do with it. I gave it my best shot. Spent months touching it, opening it, staring at its pages, waiting for the penny to drop and to finally understand how it worked. I felt so very, very stupid. Because having needed no explicit instructions, its use had to be blindingly obvious, to the non-thick people. Finally gave up trying to work it out. Carried it everywhere. Made a great show of faux-consulting it during lessons and prep. Felt the weight of keeping up the pretence. Plus the ten tonnes of disapproval when red pen continued to liberally decorate every single page of all my exercise books.

So here we were again. My personal failing. My inability to do this "one small thing" being asked of me. Except instead of the more usual lazy/slapdash/could do better/must try harder accusations, it appeared they were saying I was defective, based on my mother's stricken face and the teacher's solemn one.

To the point of being unable to work out how to swallow my cure.

I know what people think. Oh, but that is how it was nearly 40 years ago. Nothing like that today. Which is true. Things are a lot better in many respects. Thanks to the grit and determination of those who have researched, studied, created resources, fought prejudice and offered quality training.

But if you think a dislexsic-ly shamed, little girl is to modern education what the Dodo is to the Animal Kingdom...you are wrong.

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