Dyslexic tales


I have dyslexia, it’s fairly bad, but I have a mass of coping strategies in place to make my writing world bearable. Except that there was one area that it was lacking – note taking.

It seems such a small thing. Taking notes. Just sitting in the library and writing down what you learn from the latest dust covered volume. But it is one of the areas I come unstuck. You see I am a slow reader with technical texts, and instead of paraphrasing or itemising what I’m working on, I have to write it out, completely…

Then there is the other problem. Reading my scribbled notes. My writing has always looked good but people who try to read it find out pretty quickly that although it looks good it is virtually unreadable. It’s hard to read handwritten stuff anyway, but my own is really difficult. My trick is to put the first letter in and then the last and a very pretty, but inadequate, squiggly line in the middle.

So I have come to rely on tapping the keys in order to make sense. I have a laptop, but once you add a book or two it is hard to lug around. And I don’t have money for the ultra slim surface or the newer laptops. I’m on the lower edge of the market, as in basement bottom.

Then there is the fact I’m thinking about taking a PhD. I’m not getting any younger and neither is the laptop. It’s ‘n’ sticks and, well, I worry that it isn’t going to last long. So I went to that wonderful market on the ether – ebay.

I like to buy new, mainly for the warranty, but this time I was looking for something that didn’t weigh more than a bag of sugar and was smaller than a file. It had to be cheap so that I wouldn’t worry if I threw it in my bag. And it had to run word or something similar and compatible. So I searched.

And searched.

And I found netbooks… They are obsolete, they are cheap and they run word. I’m saved, I thought. One draw back though. There are masses of them. And the Chinese market has realised that people want them, so they have taken a netbook case and used an Android system in them… That wouldn’t work. I need files to be transferable to the desktop. So I need windows. It had to be one of the old netbooks.

So I bid on a few, all the time keeping in mind how much a reconditioned one costs from a shop. And I got lucky!

I’m now the proud owner of a Compaq mini. It is tiny. But I can work on it and it is light. It can be carried around, and yes, the battery life isn’t great, but I can always get a new battery.

And I can increase the hard drive size with nothing more than an SD card, which can then be plugged straight into the desktop.

Done and dusted.

And finally my notes can be typed, with ‘n’s. I have paid very little so I’m not worried that it will get knocked about a bit, but then it is only a note taker. Although I may do some writing on it…

Everything is transferable.

It has made me think though. You see, up until the moment I clicked on ‘bid now’ I had always relied on others to work out what I needed and to present me with the solution. This is the first time I have identified that the dyslexia is a problem and that it needed a new bit of kit to fix.

I feel like I have past a point that I hadn’t realised existed. I have taken charge of my own disability and found a solution. The satisfaction I’m getting makes me wonder if the university ought to have set aside time to help me understand that dyslexia isn’t a static problem. It bends and flexes as you change. A problem today may not be a problem tomorrow, and the future issues may not even cross your mind today.

I just think that maybe I ought to have been taught how to cope. How to identify the problem and work out the solution. Because the step I have made this week has taken me six months to work out…

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