Dyslexia, Irlen Syndrome and Alexia. (This has nothing to do with Amazon gadgets)

This post focuses on writing blogs, website content, social media and emails rather than stories and books.

As independent authors, our ability to write such is of paramount importance to our promotional and marketing strategy. Yet the way you write could be alienating those who are not quite as apt as you or me at reading.


How-is-All-Started

A couple of years ago, I had a wonderful comment from a person who suffered from dyslexia about a post.

Although his comments were primarily about the content and not the presentation of the post, he mentioned he found my post far easier to read than many, if not most.

Curiosity got the better of me.

Why I wondered, could he read and understand my posts, when he struggled to read so many others?

Over the next few days, he and I conversed, by email, about his reading on a personal AAEAAQAAAAAAAAxCAAAAJDdmZDE5N2IxLWUxZmUtNGMwNi04YzE3LWYyNGUxYjA3MDE1MQlevel and Dyslexia in general.

 

Before I carry on and explain the outcome of our conversations, I think as writers we should all know and understand what dyslexia and some of the most common reading difficulties are. So, I am including the following few paragraphs & bullet points, (which I cribbed from the internet), for clarity.

 

A formal definition of dyslexia used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development states, “It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. “

Unsurprisingly, the International Dyslexia Association defines it in simple terms. “Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.”


In contrast, Irlen Syndrome is a perceptual processing disorder, meaning that it relates specifically to how the brain processes the visual information it receives. It is not a language-based disorder and phonics-based instruction will not help someone with Irlen Syndrome improve in the same way it will help someone with dyslexia improve their reading skills.

At its core, Irlen Syndrome is a light sensitivity, where individuals are sensitive to a specific wavelength of light and this sensitivity is what causes the physical and visual symptoms that people with Irlen Syndrome experience. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty reading not because their brains have difficulty connecting the letters they see with the sounds those letters make, but because they see distortions on the printed page, or because the white background or glare hurts their eyes, gives them a headache, or makes them fall asleep when trying to read.

Unlike dyslexia, difficulties experienced because of Irlen Syndrome can reach well beyond just reading. People with Irlen Syndrome have difficulty processing all visual information, not just words on a printed page, so they often have trouble with depth perception, driving, sports performance, and other areas not generally connected with dyslexia.


Alexia is a form of dyslexia, but dyslexia is developmental, meaning that it does not happen from an occurrence such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Alexia is an acquired reading disability because of an acquired event such as a stroke. It is most common for alexia to be accompanied by expressive aphasia (the ability to speak in sentences), and agraphia (the ability to write).

All alexia is not the same, however. You may have difficulty with the following:

Recognizing words ● Difficulty identifying and reading synonyms ● Difficulty with reading despite your ability to sound out pronunciation of words.

Although you can read words, it is too difficult to read for very long ● Blind spots blocking the end of a line or a long word ● Focusing on the left side of the paragraph or page ● Double vision when trying to read ● Reading some words but not others. Of course, this makes reading impossible.

A stroke survivor with alexia that can read larger words, but cannot read tiny words such as “it,” “to,” “and,” etc. ● Any combination of some of these traits.

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My conversations with, (I shall call him ‘Jay’ during this post), led me to take a close look at how I was presenting my blogs, what made them so different and, could I improve them further?

It turns out the style I chose… I was going to say developed, but that sounds arrogant. So, the style I was using at the time was to write in small(ish) chunks, using relatively short sentences and paragraphs, as I have so far in this post.

Unlike the following.

This differed to most blogs and posts on the interweb which were, (and still are), long blocks of continuous sentences and sub-sentences, forming large paragraphs with very little line spacing or breaks. This may be a ‘style’ welcomed by universities and those writing technical/medical/professional and some literary journals. I have seen many papers which follow this style. I have even read a few and I must agree it makes for extremely uncomfortable reading. To read such a document, one must concentrate fully and focus on each word of each line. Whenever the eye moves from its forced liner motion, even for a moment, is when the reader finds some difficulty in returning to the exact location they were at previously, often meaning one must, annoyingly, re-read sections already read. Like you have possibly just done when reading with this last long drivelling, over worded paragraph I have written in just such a manner to illustrate my point that it makes for uncomfortable reading, even for those of us blessed with good eyesight and adequate skill. A point which I hope I have now made adequately clear with this paragraph which is representative of many blogs.

Writing in this form creates such a large block of words it becomes challenging to separate them into clear concise ‘bite-sized‘ and manageable ‘lots’ of information.

This is one of the areas of written presentation which was highlighted to me by Jay.

I already used a style of writing which broke long paragraphs into much smaller ones, whenever practicable, but I was not aware of the impact doing so made on the reader. From then on, I broke paragraphs down even further than I did ‘pre-‘Jay’

I was also made aware of unnecessarily long sentences, sentences with too many superfluous words.

This simply meant cutting out all those unnecessary words to make sentences read far more precisely and clearly.

OR

Eliminating irrelevant words.

You see, this is not fictional or creative literature as when writing a novel, or even a short story. This is describing and sharing thoughts, ideas, information and data. Another skill set entirely.

Authors often discover this when having to write a precise about their latest book, like the back-cover blurb, an agent’s query synopsis, or for a promotional activity.

We all know, or at least should, that mixing sentence lengths makes for better reading. But so does spacing and breaking them up, like I have done in most of this post.

Please do not get me wrong.

I am not solely writing or directing my words specifically to those with reading difficulties, but I am looking to be as inclusive as possible and not simply because I am attempting to be politically, or socially correct.

I do it because I want as many people as possible to read my words. That is why I write.

Looking at how one presents their posts on the screen does not take much effort. Neither does adjusting one’s style to make it clearer and easier to read… for everybody, including you and me.

To finish, look at this Git-Hub virtual reality page. It shows how we can best comprehend the way those suffering from dyslexia and associated reading difficulties may see the written word.

https://geon.github.io/programming/2016/03/03/dsxyliea

My lesson following my conversations with ‘Jay’ is, “We can all learn from others, even those we may have previously considered had nothing to give us. After all, I never thought a dyslexic could teach an established author how to write clearer, even better. How wrong I was.”

Thank you for reading another of my Ramblings. Please subscribe to this blog if you will.

I am open to all comments and try to reply to them all personally.

Keep happy, Paul


Oh, take a peek at my website, I have a ton of good stuff waiting there 

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Distracted.

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I sit back, sighing heavily. The writing is going well, but I need to take a break from this particular work. So I fill a large mug full of hot black coffee...the preferred drug of most writers…and sit back down, allowing my thoughts to scramble over the untidy mound of scrappy ideas which need to be sorted into some cohesive order.

Problem is, as I sip the scalding liquid, my thoughts leave the junkyard of unformulated notes and come here, the rambling parkland of gibberish and spill over this page in an uncontrollable splash of ink. Rather like the drips from the base of my coffee cup.

I know I should be focusing all my attention towards the new novel ‘Floyd’, because you cannot leave a psychopathic murderer running loose, which is precisely what Floyd is doing as you read this. Or maybe I should be writing some more short stories, or editing some old blogs ready to create another book. After all it is what I set aside these current hours to do. It was my sole intent today. So, in some respect I feel guilty I am not writing content for any of those projects.

However, I am also aware that in the shadowy recesses, in those dark corners of my mind where I have little, if any control, the cogs of intuition, of creativity, of inventiveness and imagination are whirling away without any conscious effort on my part.

I know they will, or at least I hope they will, rearrange the untidy pile of random thoughts, those initial ideas and concepts, into an organised and comprehensive inventory of clarified sketches which will then be ready for me to utilise.

This is one of the reasons I write such as this, (and drink copious amounts of coffee late into the night and often into the early hours of the following day)!

A few years ago, I was given a very good piece of advice by a successful writer; “Whatever you do,” he said, “just write. Write anything that comes into your head. Do not think about it too much. You can always re-write it, change it, even scrap it another time. But when you sit down to write do exactly that, write, write anything because what matters is not the first few words you put down, but the creative juices they cause to dribble down your thighs of inventiveness”.

I have followed his advice ever since, which is why I have very wet inventive thighs and write these ramblings. Hence I have found the cure for the condition that afflicts many, the so-called writers block.

Have a good, creative and productive day.

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© Paul White 2014

To read more of my work, or find out more about me, why not visit my website?

http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

One tip which helps make writers successful.

Crazy Writer


Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know I have three major dislikes when having conversations and discussions with other writers.

By writers I am being all inclusive, whether you are and Author, a Blogger, Journalist or Essayist, in fact whatever disciplines you generally undertake; although some parts are directed more towards creative writers, the overall subject matter is applicable to all genres of writing.

Firstly let me reiterate the three dislikes I mentioned above.

One, Lists.3021379-inline-johnny-cashs-perfect-to-do-list

This is a quick cop-out for many Bloggers, Journalists and Article writers. I could quite easily have entitled this Blog as ‘Three things I hate about writers’, or ‘The ten worst things to do as a writer’. It is so easy to throw together a few clipped items about anything and collate a list. It is bullshit and writing at its laziest.

In fact, I should not grace ‘lists’ as writing at all but as compiling.

(That said the more astute of you will realise that you are reading point one on a ‘list’ of three items)!

LMAO.

Yet this blog is not just a meaningless list of three things; there is a point to it, some REAL content. (Which differentiates my construal of just listing items for little reason and using them as an inclusive part of a constructive essay).

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So on to my second dislike, Writers Block.

This condition does not exist. It is false, a myth, a feeble excuse dreamed up by lazy writers who need something to blame, besides their own inadequacies, for not writing.

This may sound harsh, but honestly it is the truth.

As an example you may be at a particular stage, in this great and wonderful novel which you are writing, where the plot has become so tangled and complicated you are having problems writing any further, so you stop writing.

Then you start to hesitate about returning to the book, because you know you may have to go back and re-write much of it, so you procrastinate.

This procrastination then starts to fester in your mind. You worry if you can write well enough, or that all these past weeks have just been a waste of time. So you, once again, put off writing anything and say you have writers block.

BULLSHIT.

The whole point of writing is to sit down and write. It does not have to be a stream of constant writing on one project or one topic. Start a new book or write a short story. Write a Blog about something you like, or a tale from your life. If you do not want to blog, write a poem or two, or three. Even a letter to your Mother or Sister.

Write something, just write something, while your mind is working out what you need to do to get your novel back on track. If you are writing anything you do not have an excuse to believe you have writers block. Simple.

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writers-block

Ok, Number Three dislike. Lack of things to write about!

Yes, I have heard this one too many times, but it still amuses me.

I have heard writers say things like, ‘I have some rough ideas, but nothing solid’ and ‘I’m not sure how to start’ or ‘I don’t know what to write about’ even ‘I have a story, but don’t know how to end it’.

The one thing in common was that none of these writers had actually started to write anything. Therefore it amused me because often you do not have a ‘beginning’ or an ‘end’ or that much content UNTIL you start to write. That is what re-writing and editing is all about, why ‘cut & paste’ is such a popular tool!

Inspiration and stimulation are the keystone to most writing, (I say most because little of that is needed in technical manuals)! But as I have said this Blog is directed at creative writing where the most important aspect IS having a plethora of subject matter, ideas, concepts, notes, notions, outlines, inklings and whatevermacallits floating about in both your conscious and un consciousness.

Once you have found a way to keep your creative stimuli fully charged you will never ‘run out’ of ideas, subjects and topics to write about.

Which neatly brings me to the point of this Blog, the one tip which has helped many writers become successful at what they do.

plug-in world1

You have to ‘PLUG IN’ to the world around you. You have to become sponge-like and absorb the world with all its idiosyncrasies.

I read the newspapers, not for the depressing headlines about conflicts, politicians filling their pockets at the taxpayers’ expense, or how the financial state of outer-Mongolia is affecting house prices in Downtown Backwater.

I read the local and regional newspapers looking for odd, offbeat stories. I try and extract the human and emotional feelings of those affected. I do the same with the radio, I do not have music on all day but tune into certain stations which cover a myriad of articles and ‘human interest’ stories.

Many times I scan the internet, from other peoples Blogs to news articles from Huffington, New York Times, the London Times, and a thousand and one other sources which are readily available.

I type into the search bar things like ‘Sad Stories’, ‘Mad Men’, ‘murder scenes’, ‘Strange Encounters’ and a hundred and one other random searches.

I am not looking to steal anyone’s work, this is not a matter of plagiarism, but a way to find inspiration, stimulation. I am looking for that ‘Trigger point’ to prompt me to start a new story. The story will most probably be an amalgamation of ten thousand and one little bits and pieces that I have remembered or noted, which have just become a single piece due to that ‘Trigger’.

So go on, take a tip from some great authors and ‘Plug in’ to the world around you.

It works for me!

Thank you for reading this rather rambling, Rambling, Paul.

© Paul White 2015

http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white-writer

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