I’m 36 at the time of this writing. I started reading books in my mid 20’s. I only started writing and learning to write once I created this blog. It’s a hard thing to bring into the light because I don’t want to be known for it, or pitied. I have dyslexia and auditory processing disorder, and I only found this out in my 30s. All this time I have been struggling and not even comprehend or understood that I’m different. I thought I was just dumb, slow or stupid but I’m not. Here is my story about what it’s like to grow up with dyslexia and auditory processing disorder without even knowing it.
As young as I can remember I hated reading books. Hated the struggle the pain of trying to decipher the shapes and letters on the written page. Not because it was boring (to my young mind it probably was) but because it hurt. Reading was like trying to focus while drunk, everything is moving and nothing is straight. But my family persisted in trying to the best of their abilities. The problem was that I was young, that I didn’t care. And that the words on the page didn’t interest me let alone make sense.
I remember when I was young whenever we wanted to understand the meaning of a word that dad or mum or any of my sisters said. Dad would tell us to look it up in the dictionary. The problem was I didn’t know how to read. And looking up a word, let alone having no idea how it was spelt was debilitating. I hated it, so I ended up not asking what words meant. My father had good intentions, and to anyone else without dyslexia that would have been a great idea in how to understand, read and learn new words. Just… it wasn’t for me.
Throughout my school years, I was put in The Special Needs Class. Kids called it the dumb class. Again I hated it there, not because I didn’t know I had dyslexia, but because looking back the kids in there most likely had ADHD or were dropouts that didn’t care about the education system. Not me I knew things, I could articulate well, it’s just that I couldn’t read. I knew things and could explain what I was learning. So after a year or two in that class, I was kicked out, into a normal class. I was finally in… normal, I was so happy… and here the reading tutoring began. I was given everything a person with reading and spelling disabilities needed. A person that would read for me, and help me spell, they sat next to me in tests and I would also go off to special reading and writing classes during and after school. But nothing worked. I’m amazed I wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia at the time.
At the same time, my family thought I was deaf. I couldn’t hear well or listen in class. I would be taken to hearing tests and everything yearly. Testing everything you could name under the sun, I could hear perfectly well during those isolated tests which was a shock to my parents. Everyone just thought I wasn’t paying attention. It was only later in my 30’s when my wife was researching ADHD that she stumbled upon a term called APD (auditory processing disorder). We did a little test online and would find out that I had 100% of the symptoms. Then we started talking about it, and I realised that no one else heard the world like I did. Shocked I found out that I had APD and that alone explained all my struggles throughout my life.
APD is a form of brain disorder where I can’t distinguish sounds. I can understand someone talking one on one with me perfectly well. But as soon as there are more people talking, another sound or a loud background sound, I can no longer hear. Everything sounds like white noise, because everything sounds the same. I can’t pinpoint my hearing or focus my hearing. Normally I would put my hand up to my ear and turn my head in the direction someone was speaking to try and hear, or focus. But normally I would just give up completely and say ‘What?’ or ‘Pardon?’ but to no avail, or success. This was my life and still is, the only difference is that I know this now and can accommodate or explain my situation as best I can.
After all this, having dyslexia and APD and still not knowing it or connecting all the dots. It wasn’t until university that I tried really really hard to read and write because I had to, to pass. I’m amazed I got as far as I did without knowing I had all these handicaps all this time. I got my bachelor’s and then my honours in Graphic design and photography. I passed, and in my early 30’s I started to read profusely, I would read or try to read a book a week, and I also started this blog. Which was hard, knowing I can’t spell or understand the differences in same sounding words. But I continued because I thought no one was reading this, and because I wanted to. This blog and reading books was just for me, the only thing that is different is that this blog is open to the public. To read and understand my thoughts.
So now I’m in my late 30’s. I can read now, but very slowly, and when I’m tired it’s impossible. I also write daily, sure it’s not Steven King or Oscar Wilde, but it’s good enough for me. And that is my story. Just so you know how bad it truly is. Every time I write something I go through it twice and rewrite and change my mistakes and spelling as best I can. Currently this article alone as 18 revisions and 5 drafts. I’m not very good, but I’m OK with that. This is me 100%. And even thou my writing isn’t very good, I hope you can understand the meaning and thoughts behind it. Maybe I could give you an epiphany or insight into something you have never seen or noticed. Who knows, only you do.
So I ask you if you are reading this and you notice any spelling mistakes or wrong words, please let me know. I’ll do my best to change them and better my writing. After all, it’s you the reader that’s helping me become a better person and I thank you for all your time and understanding, even thou I can’t write very well. I thank you.