Blessed Are The Cheesebrains

My Experiences as a Mum and Wife of Dyslexics

The Surprising Thing About Dyslexics Is That They’re Constantly Surprising!

on January 27, 2013

One of the great things about living with dyslexics is that they never fail to surprise you (I’m sure this happens in other families as well, but I don’t have experience of them….) This Christmas both my husband AND daughter have surprised me for very different reasons.

Firstly, my husband got a tablet for Christmas. He needed one for work (and I was keen for him to have something that he could carry around with him that might help him to be more organised, particularly after the recent fiasco when he forgot to pick our daughter up from school, but that’s another story….), however he also announced that he’d like to be able to use it for reading books. This in itself wasn’t the surprising thing as my husband is quite an avid reader (although with a fairly narrow repertoire of science fiction and science fantasy, and is most comfortable reading young adult fiction). And he’s also a very slow one: He tends to average only a couple of pages a night and so it can take him 6 months to finish a complete book, and he’s been reading the same science fantasy series for the last 25 years! However, what did surprise me was that as soon as he’d got a reading app he started searching for free books that he could download, and plumped for a selection of classics like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Sherlock Holmes. And first on the list for him to read was Pride and Prejudice! Now this is one of my all time favourite books and my husband has enjoyed the various TV and film adaptions (so much so that on several occasions I’ve caught him watching a repeat of Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle on some obscure channel!), but I never ever ever in my wildest dreams imagine that he would read it himself! But not only that, he finished it in less than a week, got at least some of the wit, and enjoyed it!

Secondly, my daughter was chosen to play the main part in her school’s Christmas production. Again, this in itself, wasn’t too much of a surprise as her ambition is to (follow in the footsteps of her dyslexic hero, Kara Tointon) and become an actress, and she was determined to get a part. What was astonishing was the fact that she seemed to learn and remember the part by complete osmosis without any effort at all! And in fact, she learnt the whole show off by heart, so much so that she mouthed everyone’s words as they said them and could prompt them if they missed their cue! Incredible! And I still don’t know how she did it!

I had been equally pleased and apprehensive when she got the part as short term memory is one of her main weaknesses and we have had endless traumas with learning things like times tables and spellings, but somehow she managed to bypass this completely and commit everything to her long term memory, I presume because of the actual physicality of acting and not just reading and saying the words.

Her next challenge is a small part in Romeo and Juliet at the local High School in February, so watch this space….

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3 responses to “The Surprising Thing About Dyslexics Is That They’re Constantly Surprising!

  1. Kate Cameron says:

    Lisa, the experience of your daughter being able to learn lines is no surprise to me. I have a son of 16 who is now studying acting and English literature at college. His dyslexia meant that he spent his primary years with the LSA in small group teaching and was well aware of his difficulties. But then in his final year show at primary school, he made a triumphant rise to stardom in a small, but prominent part that knocked everyones perceptions aside. Now in a local theatre group and studying at college, his ability to learn lines is of constant amazement to me. He learns them by physically rehearsing the part, using his body and voice so he can both feel and hear the lines. Would love to talk more. Kate.

    • Lisa Kendrick says:

      Hi Kate – thanks for getting in touch. I think it’s really helpful and important to share experiences like these – which is why I blog about dyslexia and why I joined Parent Champions (take a look at http://www.parentchampions.org for more info if you don’t know about it already and the Facebook page is great for connecting with other parents and getting support and advice).

      It’s great to hear how well your son is doing, and yes, I had assumed that the process of acting out a script and hearing it over and over again had helped her learn and remember the words (I’m a great fan of multi-sensory learning), but it would be really useful to identify exactly how she did it so we can apply it to other areas of learning (she can’t tell me – ‘it just happened and was easy’, she says!). And I suppose after watching the Kara Tointon documentary and seeing how much she struggled with learning her lines, I expected it to be more of an issue, but perhaps she just hadn’t found the right way for her to learn…..

      It’s just so frustrating that schools don’t identify children’s strengths and learning styles and help with this sort of thing – it makes it a huge responsibility as a parent to have to work it all out for yourself and find ways to help your child learn effectively!

      Since Hansel and Gretel, my daughter has just had a small part in Romeo and Juliet, and again, has taken it in her stride! I had expected her to find the language ‘a step too far’, as I know many adults without any language and processing difficulties who can’t decipher Shakespeare (and her best friend, who is also dyslexic, was completely turned off by it), but again, she was fine and is growing in confidence. She already goes to a kids’ drama group at our local theatre and we’ve talked about her possibly going to a new specialist ‘creative and media’ school that’s opened nearby – so maybe she’ll end up following in your son’s footsteps…..

      Keep in touch. Lisa

  2. hi lisa
    it is Jennifer Owen
    you asked me for link to my blog Don’t called me stupid please leave a comment

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