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.


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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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Naked thoughts in New York City

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Restless.

I throw back the white cotton sheet.

Laying naked, letting the air circulate over my skin hoping for coolness.

No relief.

Padding barefoot I cross the room.

Sliding the glass doors open, stepping onto the balcony.

The slight breeze a welcome freshness.

Looking down, way down below,

I see the cars snaking through the city,

Yellow cars.

All cars are taxis at night, cabs running to and fro,

Making frivolous journeys for inconsequential people.

I see dots, little dots moving irregularly.

They are humans, tiny individuals,

Way below.

A fire truck passes, lights flashing,

Multiple glints against the glass buildings.

The deep honk of the fire trucks horn billows,

Suffocating all other sounds for that instant.

I look out, around me.

Towers.

Reflections, light and glass.

I see inside lighted rooms, empty offices, lounges, bedrooms.

Nobody has curtains, nobody draws their blinds.

Seduced by the height, blinded by reflection,

They think they are obscured from vision.

But I can see them, all of them.

I am standing in darkness, hidden in the shadows, looking out.

One pair of a thousand eyes, from a thousand dark places,

Windows, balconies, rooftops, all staring at the city,

Watching it move, pulsate, vibrate, gyrate.

Who, I wonder, is watching me as I stand here naked,

Breathing in the night air, cooling my skin.

I do not care.

Look all you want, feast your eyes,

Fantasise, ogle, masturbate if you wish, I do not know you, nor you me.

Even if you are there, in one of those thousand windows,

Or upon one of a thousand rooftops, if you exist anywhere but in my imagination,

I still do not care.

Another siren, echoes reverberating up the sides of the towers,

Lights flashing, reflected, refracted, distorted in the mirror glass.

I turn around and pad barefoot back to the bed.

The faint light falls on her skin, she sleeping with one leg out,

Twisted in the sheet I discarded, the other splayed wide and her arms akimbo.

Hair pouring over the pillows, a delta of soft threads.

There is no room for me now.

I do not want to wake her, or disturb her slumber.

I am not tired, I have no desire to sleep.

I grab a drink from the kitchen and go back onto the balcony,

This time I sit, open my laptop and light a cigarette.

I write this, my random thoughts of dark recesses, prying eyes,

Mirrored glass walls, and yellow taxis,

I write of my sleepless night in New York City.

END

© Paul White 2014

FFCO‎0911‎2014

Masterpiece

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  I find myself sitting here with the compulsion to write an amazing Rambling for you today.

You see, I am in the mood to write. I do not mean I just fancy a writing session; I mean I have an urge, a compulsion to splatter letters and characters across the page in some deeply meaningful and creative form.

I want to write something that will draw you in and amaze you with its relevance and connection to your own life.

Yet there is where it stops.

I have the will and the desire, a deep craving, the lustful wanting for the feel of words dripping from my pen onto this page.

But that yearning is, as yet, unrequited.

I shall stand, literarily unclothed, bare my all to you in saying that I am flummoxed as what to actually say.

Please do not get me wrong. I am not suffering from that mythical condition referred to as writers block, far from it in fact.

Yet I cannot gather my flock of random thoughts and round them into a single heard of consistency. Today my mind is like the wilderness of a Welsh hillside scattered with evasive lambs, bleating at me with distain.

So I shall write as this day affects me, and as the title of this blog suggests…..Randomly!

I know that many of you, the artistic and creative folk, the writers and poets, painters and singers, will at some point have struggled with a situation similar to this; where your heart and soul are committed, but your mind is playing truant, playing football in the park or still snuggling into the soft down of your pillow.

Today, (so far), that is where I am.

I have projects to complete, or at least progress. Poems & short stories I wish to write, and this Rambling, this classic tome of astute wisdom and intelligent acumen…..I think not.

But I do think that what my mind is telling me, is that it needs to rest. That it needs time to itself to mull over all that I have perceived and observed recently.

My concentration has been to keenly focused for too long on one basic set of tasks. Like any athlete we all must make rest and relaxation part of our training regime.

We must also understand the need for ‘recovery time’ as do sportsmen, say after running, or in my case, writing a great amount. While we writers may not always be physically regarded as god like bronzed Adonis’s, or indeed lithe and sensual Venuses, our minds are often far more agile and supple than many others might be.

Therefor we too can overwork and strain ourselves, so take time to ‘chill-out’, meditate, or simplynothing do something as energetic as you can which will make you concentrate purely on that activity, thereby giving your brain a rest from the exertion of consistent creativeness.

You shall then return refreshed and renewed, with the vigour and clarity to create a masterpiece; the like of which has escaped from me today!

I do hope you enjoyed this latest ‘Rambling’ of mine. To read more irreverent irrelevance take a look at my blog, Further Ramblings  http://wp.me/5njAU 

Thank you, Paul.

Today I watched the sun rise.

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As the sun rose and the darkness faded the sky took on a burnished amber hue.

Birds started to welcome the dawn with the melody of their chorus.

I breathed in the sharp crispness of the morning air and looked up, a few wispy clouds hung motionless in the stratosphere.

It was such a fresh, bright morning that I predictably recalled the hymn ‘Morning has broken’; in this instance my mind heard it being sung by Cat Stevens. I half consciously found myself humming along, out of tune of course!

This was soon followed by the voice of Bob Marley and ‘Three little birds’. I smiled inwardly as realised that both of these

hqdefaultvoices were inside my head; and wondered why on earth we become so full of angst when someone admits to hearing voices in their own minds, or indeed fearful if they inhabit our own?

This morning as the sun rose higher, and the amber tones dissipated to reveal a azure blue sky, I found that I was comforted by the voices I heard singing to me.

Regardless of the scientific, cognitive or physiological explanations, of which I do not give one iota of care for at this time, I was quite amused by my own insight of this experience; which is as a writer I constantly think, in the words of ‘Arthur’ (Dudley Moore), ‘Funny things that make me laugh’!

This was one of those times when even lateral thinking was unable to keep up with the speed of the random leaping of my thoughts. I have coined a personal term for this, I refer to it as ‘Geometric Surging’.

I love it, because this is where all the odd ball, wild, whacky and seemingly unconnected notions, concepts, opinions and theories somehow find common ground, which allows them to become authentic and viable concepts. This is one state of mind where many of my inspirational stimuli collected from far and wide, over periods of time meld into solid ideas. All that is needed is a moment of ambiance, of atmosphere which can induce the right frame of mind.

Today it was watching the sun rise.

Thank you for reading.

I have a ‘Showcase’ page on my website, please feel free to visit.

© Paul White 2014

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