An Introduction

by Scott P. Smith

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About the author.

Residing in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Scott Smith was thirty years of age at the time of this writing. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech. And is currently working as a computer programmer.

He does not consider himself a typical dyslectic (If there is such a thing) and has not formally studied dyslexia.

The following was copied from his description of his type of dyslexia to a public forum regarding dyslexia.

Copied with permission from Scott Smith.

Copyright © 1996 by Scott P. Smith

First let me describe my condition:

Diagnosed in fourth grade. I have a relatively mild form of dyslexia. Was either worst or second to worst is spelling and reading from first to tenth grade (in a class of about 50 students). Took 4 years of special classes. I never had a significant problem with vocabulary or grammar. Am above average in logic, visualization, and spatial skills. Always tested to have a high IQ which helped me to compensate. Always did better than expected on standardized tests (which really helped a lot all through my school years). I have always had above average reading comprehension. I had a hard time with calculus in college because of the new symbols that I had to learn. For me, the decoding and encoding skills needed to read and write calculus equations were very similar to the skills needed for reading and writing English. I am absent minded. Am very bad at transcribing phone numbers or any other string of numbers someone is telling me.

I never saw letters backwards, never saw letters move, etc. My problem was simply that I could not turn a string of letters into a word. I saw each letter, one at a time while reading
L I K E - T H I S .
For me, each letter seemed very significant. I could not see the forest for the trees.

Diphthongs (ph, th, gh, etc.) were murder. I could not pronounce the “ir” in bird (I said “boyd”) until I was about 11 years old (weird - it was the only sound I had trouble with). When I finally was able to pronounce “bird” my classmates were disappointed because they liked to make fun of it. I now read at normal or above average speed. I am still a poor speller (thank God for spell checkers).

Here are my opinions. Some or all of these may be common knowledge, or common sense, but I think it’s worth saying.

I believe that dyslexia is really a collection of neurological conditions that differ quite a bit but are all given the blanket term: dyslexia. I believe people read words, not letters, and in my case I could not “see” the words, just the letters. Now, I do see words when I read, and the letters disappear. When I read, I recognize each word instantly as if it were a Chinese cruciform. When I was younger, I lacked this ability. I still have trouble reading uncommon words, because (I think) my brain has not yet stored the collection of letters as a single picture. When I encounter new or very uncommon words, I revert back to looking at each letter, one by one, trying to connect them together to make a word.

To anyone out there still having trouble reading (especially young people) all I can say is don’t give up, and read as much as possible. You’re not stupid, you just see things differently. Get books having to do with things that really, really, really interest you. This way you will be motivated to keep on reading because of your interest in the subject. As a young teenager, I got hold of some erotic literature and it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I couldn’t put the book down, and I even went as far as to lookup words in a dictionary to get the full meaning. It may sound funny, and it’s a little embarrassing admitting it, but it really did help me improve my reading skills and it was probably the first time in my life that I found reading pleasurable (which I think is a very important step in overcoming a reading problem).

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Copyright © 1996 by Timothy Allen Roach All Rights Reserved.
No part of this document may be reproduced, published, etc.,
without written permission from the author.
Updates: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
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