Destiny Herndon-DeLaRosa

Dyslexia

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2018 at 9:08 pm

Wes' Book

Last month, a friend in recovery asked me to read his soon-to-be published memoir.

He’d heard through the grapevine that I‘m a writer (something that still sounds laughable when I hear it said out loud), and he wondered if I could give him a review. I told him unfortunately I didn’t have the time, but he insisted. Finally I agreed, and now I’ve got 3 days to read his entire book because of course I put it off.

You know your procrastination level is bad when you find yourself cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing behind toilets because now somehow even those horrific chores have been bumped up on your to-do list.

And it’s not that I don’t want to read his book; not at all. I’m sure it’s going to be fascinating. It’s just that I knew it would be a tedious task for me personally. I read articles and condensed research all day every day, but long form writing takes quite a bit of effort to comprehend because I’m dyslexic.

I realized recently that not a lot of people know that about me, which is kind of weird because other than that I’m pretty much an open book. Some cruel cruel irony there for ya . 😂

I don’t know why I never talk about my dyslexia, but it got me thinking that maybe I should.

I was diagnosed in second grade at Scottish Rite and put in special ed programs all through elementary school. I would be taken out of my regular class for nearly half the day to focuse strictly on alpha-phonics. In sixth grade they re-tested me and said I had improved enough that I didn’t need special education any longer but when I went to junior high I was still struggling. Because I had an August birthday and was the youngest in my class, over Christmas break my parents decided to give me the option of repeating seventh grade. We decided it would probably be a good idea because I’d have the chance to catch up both emotionally and academically with peers a little closer to my age.

I’ll be honest, there was a lot of shame wrapped up in that decision. There still is. To this day it’s something I worry a reporter is going to find out and include in a piece to discredit me. But as an adult I see my dyslexia for what it is: a learning difference. And honestly, one that came with it’s own set of blessings.

For some of my most formidable years I had the opportunity to focus on the English language – quite intensively I might add. I mean, I can’t do math to save my life, but who really needs math? You only use it for like 10% of your life, and the other 95% you can just BS it, amiright? 😉

Plus, as someone who personally knows how hard it can be to read and retain information, my dyslexia has really impacted the way I communicate myself.

A while back we watched a documentary series on Netflix called Abstract: The Art of Design, and one of the episodes featured this brilliant photographer named Platon Antoniou. He also has dyslexia and said that because he sometimes needs help focusing on what’s important it‘s caused him to almost subconsciously edit out all of the background distractions in his photos. He’s now known for the striking and powerful images he creates of world leaders.

And because I still don’t really consider myself so much a writer, I began applying this same theory to my activism. Has my dyslexia allowed me to cut through a lot of the rhetoric and get to the simple truth of my message? I really believe it has. I don’t want others to struggle to figure out what I’m saying, I don’t want them to have to decode my thoughts. I want to make sure that there is no mistaking what my message is, so the superfluous nonsense often gets edited out.

I also think that might be what’s taking me so damn long when it comes to writing my own book. I don’t do “filler” well. Current status update excluded.

Anyway, I know that by sharing all this someone might be inclined to say “I never would’ve guessed you had dyslexia!” and I know they would mean it as a compliment. But I guess I’d rather the takeaway be that even if you DO have dyslexia, you can still write. And people might even pay you for it. Which is super cool.

Epilogue (to this very meta long form critique of how long form writing is the worst): If any of y’all would have written a status update this long just to avoid doing what you needed to be doing this afternoon, I can GUARANTEE you I would’ve already stopped reading it. Like second paragraph in. So I guess it’s time for me to bite the bullet and force myself to review what I’m sure will be a wonderful book…. I mean, unless of course one of you has some laundry you need help with or perhaps you’re in dental school and need a warm body to practice root canals on? Just let me know! I could always stop by for a bit and put this off until tomorrow. Just sayin’…. 😏

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