As most of you know, last month, I had the chance to attend the Dyslexia Simulation Workshop at the IDA-Florida annual conference. The experience was eye opening and gave me a new appreciation for what people with dyslexia experience every day. One of the simulation stations had an activity that utilized a mirror – trace a star but you can only use a mirror to see the star and your hand/pencil. I was able to complete the activity even if not perfectly. Shortly after, I had an experience in my daily life that greatly increased my appreciation for this mirror activity.
I recently inherited my grandfather’s 17′ runabout boat. This is the same boat growing up I spent every summer learning how to handle motor boats, swimming and fishing while on the Long Island Sound. To this day, when handling the boat, I can feel, hear, and see what both the water and boat are telling me needs to be done. My confidence came crumbling down the minute the a trailer was added in and I was required to back it up.
Because I knew I didn’t have the confidence to do this on my own, I arranged with a family friend, who use to trail 55′ big rigs for a living, to take me out and teach me the ropes. We went to a local landing and practiced backing up over and over and over again.
During this outing, intellectually, I understood the instructions and directions being given to me, but the minute I looked in the mirrors and started backing up my brain froze up. I had great difficulty getting my brain and body to connect what I knew to what I was seeing and doing. It was sooo frustrating and exhausting! It suddenly hit me this is what my students experience every day. They ‘get’ what needs to happen but it takes all their brain power and body control to make it happen. It was in this moment the mirror simulation activity and empathy for my dyslexic students really struck home.
While I can’t recreate the either the simulation or trailer backing experience here, I went looking for a few online resources to help you experience and understand what the dyslexic in your life goes through every day.
- Read Like a Dyslexic – PBS
- Write Like a Dyslexic – Bell House Films
- Through Your Child’s Eyes – Understood.org
- What is it Like to be Dyslexic? – Josh Penn Design
If you know of any other links I should add to this list, please add them in the comments below!