Tuesday, February 27, 2018

So Your Character Has Dyslexia ... Featuring Rachel Creech

My dad actually thought I had dyslexia because I wanted to write with my left hand and for the longest time, I had trouble telling right from left (like into my twenties *headdesk*).  But I started reading when I was two, so I guess the right and left thing is just weird me. The first time I had ever heard of Dyslexia was actually on the show Arthur because George actually had it and learned that Leonardo DaVinci actually had dyslexia as well. I've always been curious about it, so I'm so happy to have Rachel shed more light on it today!  

(Images aren't mine)

Hello! My name is Rachel. I have lived 15 years in this world. I am homeschooled. I am dyslexic. My hobbies include writing, dancing, and playing my ukulele.

How does your dyslexia physically feel? How do you think it compares to those who don’t have dyslexia? 
In my own experience as a dyslexic, I often feel that I should be able to read better. This often makes me feel stupid when I am not. It is embarrassing asking people to rewrite what they just texted me. 

How do you feel about dyslexia? 
I feel conflicted about dyslexia. School can be extremely frustrating and pointless at times. But then I smile when I realize that likely the reason why I am gifted with music and writing is because of dyslexia. I believe that people who are dyslexic are rather gifted at storytelling. 

What challenges does dyslexia pose? 
Reading comprehension mostly. I can read an entire book and not understand anything that happened. This can be challenging, as I always have to reread chunks or even entire chapter again. Sometimes, (especially if I am having a philosophical/complicated discussion online), I cannot understand what the person is saying and I have to ask them to retell what they said in simpler words. But I am lucky to have kind friends who don’t mind translating what they said to “Rachelenese” hahahaha.

Is there anything you like about being dyslexic? 
I like the positive things that come with dyslexia. Such as intuition, intelligence, musical giftings, writing, and storytelling. These things are common among dyslexics, though I am not sure if I can find any science behind it or not. Dyslexia isn’t completely figured out in the science world. I think it is because dyslexics tend to be right brain dominate while being surprisingly capable on the left side as well. Having to adapt makes us use both sides (but probably the right mostly).

Do you think your day differs from others because of being dyslexic? 
I tend to take many short breaks throughout my day. I also have certain ways of doing things. For example, I color code all of my notes. That way I can easily find a vocabulary definition without having to read entire pages of notes. Sometimes I listen to a particularly difficult book read aloud, though I don’t prefer to do this. I am more of a visual learner (but not through reading) than an audio learner. But this is certainly not true for many dyslexics, I know many who listen to books all the time rather than reading them.

George from Arthur
Do you have any cultural differences between others who are also dyslexic and those who are not? 
I’m not sure of cultural differences, but we are a rather unique set of people. I can spot a dyslexic just by speaking to them. Dyslexics tend to describe things in metaphors or so. They explain with their hands more than others. And most of all (If you happen to have the opportunity to see this) they confuse directions, whether that’s left and right, or where something is located in comparison to another thing or just any kind of directions. 

Generally, when this happens they have a ‘dumb’ look on their face, but it’s really because they are running through all the possible options in their mind. They’re probably even overwhelmed by all the possible options. So yes, I suppose something about the way our brains are wired makes us stand out. We have a different kind of intelligence that school exams don’t display.

What are some stereotypes about dyslexia that irk you? 
Probably what is most annoying is when people think that I can’t do something. I can figure out left and right, I might have to figure it out in a different way than “normal” people, but I can do it. Or that I can’t write, I can write quite fine. I may have an increased number of grammar and spelling mistakes, but really, doesn’t everyone?

What media portrays dyslexia badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show? 
I didn’t really like Percy Jackson’s dyslexia. (Though I haven’t read the book, sorry) mostly because he gave up on school, he wasn’t particularly persistent nor hard working. Though perhaps it is an accurate portrayal, I’m simply not fond of having a dyslexic ‘roll model’ sorta just give up on school. 

What media portrays dyslexia well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show? 
My favorite character is actually Venelope, from Wreck-it Ralph. Though she had ‘pixlexia’ instead. Hehe, I thought that was a good play on words. The reason why I like her so much is because her glitches were part of her and what made her unique in the end. As a dyslexic, there are many glitch moments. From not knowing which way 9s vs. Ps go when writing, to getting confused left and right, to reading text messages and having to request a different way of saying the same thing, to flipping the wrong light switch. Dyslexia is part of me, and if I were to get rid of it, I’d lose things that make me, me.

Who are your top three favorite characters who also are dyslexic in books, movies, or shows? Unfortunately, I don’t know any more dyslexic characters. I guess I’ll have to write one :D

Wylan from Six of Crows
Thank you again, Rachel! This is such a wealth of information! Thanks for reading!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail.com.

Do you have any characters that are dyslexic? Did this inspire you to write a dyslexic character? Are you dyslexic and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Rachel? Be sure to thank her!

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