Back to the Desk main page.

©06 The Media Desk


Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties in children and adults. Some people have difficulty in one area of learning but not another. Dyslexia may make learning to speak difficult, or involve the organization of written and/or spoken language's letters and sounds including learning a new language. It may also affect mathematical skills such as number facts and correctly performing arithmetic problems or accurately writing strings of numbers. Individuals with dyslexia are often creative and have above average intelligence.

Paraphrased from:
The International Dyslexia Association

      It isn't often that the Desk recognizes itself in something.
      But the more it read on the Dyslexia site the more it realized that they were talking about it.
      Aside from the part about above average intelligence, the Desk can directly relate to most of the symptoms of Dyslexia. We'll say it here and now: Nobody has ever seriously accused the desk of having above average intellect.
      While at it's day job, which involves working with detailed and specific information about technical matters involving both IDs for high capacity circuits as well as individual telephone numbers for voice commmunications, the Desk has written either an individual numeral or occasionally an entire ten digit phone number or circuit ID (a combination of letters and numbers) backwards, or sometimes, even upside down and backwards or a mirror image. Something it cannot do intentionally- even though it CAN read things that are backwards and upside down- such as sitting across a table from its boss who is doing its performance review.

In the Desk's case only:
      Learning even short phrases in a foreign language is almost impossible. Recalling them correctly sometime later is all but unheard of for it. Taking a Spanish class for credit- futile.
      Cursive writing is something the Desk goes out of its way to avoid. Not only is it's handwriting illegible, it is nearly indecipherable.
      Also memorization can be fun. The Desk has been typing for nigh on thirty years, and it still doesn't know where some of the keys are on the keyboard. Quote Bible verses from memory, not easily. Memorizing Number Sequences like phone numbers, lock combinations, driver's license number... sorry.
      Mathematics in general are actually painful and at times humiliating for it...

      In college, the Desk had to take a math class to graduate. The simplest class that counted as a math credit was something along the lines of introduction to statistics. The Desk took it. In the class you had to pick various numbers out of story problems, then plug them into the correct formula and do the math to come up with an answer. The Desk could find the right numbers, and even guess correctly which formula to use. But then it would come up with some answers that had nothing to do with anything else on the paper.
      We won't discuss the three years it spent in Algebra 1 class in high school. Finally being passed out of sympathy for being the only senior in the sophomore class.
End tangent.
      Back to math and related fields.
      The Desk is all into the expansion of the universe. It can talk about Unified Field Theory in some depth complete with curved space/time. Beginning from the assertion that everything, including the speed of light, gravity and even time itself, are variables. It understands, to some degree, the particle/wave problem when dealing with photons of light. If you want to debate whether or not anything that is sublight now can EVER travel faster than light and vise versa, no problem, let's do it over lunch.
      Just don't ask it to even look at the mathematical equations that 'prove' any of the above. That's hopeless.
      Most advanced classes toward things like Master's Degrees and Teacher's Certificates require some sort of math competency and a foreign language credit. The Desk cannot balance its checkbook and has trouble ordering lunch at that taco place. Get a passing grade in a serious class? Forgetaboutit.
      Which is why it is taking something of an end run around serious classes and pursuing Metaphysics- no math or Spanish requirement.

      The Desk has known since somewhere in the eighties that it had Dyslexia. But it knew it in a 'yeah, that might explain it' kind of way.
      Now after cruising through the IDA website and taking in, in fits and starts, some of the sometimes rather heady documentation they and others have available, including some informal tests posted elsewhere... the Desk has made, against all recommendations of the IDA and other professionals, the self- diagnoses that, yeah, it's Dyslexic. And it has a few of the symptoms of it worse than other ones.
      One of those being the math problem. (bad pun intended)

      But it doesn't seem to have one of the other problems often associated with Dyslexia, ADHD (Attention Deficit - Hyperactivity Disorder).
      The Desk can often become so absorbed in a task that it actually neglects other things. And it is fully capable of doing weeks of research on a single topic, as it did for the story Serious Cave, but it did go to work and take showers and all that during the research. So it can be 'dedicated' but not to the extent of being Obsessive-Compulsive or having an Addictive Personality
      No. The Desk is quite content with Dyslexia. It's enough. Thank you.

So, WHAT is it?
      Dyslexia is classified as a Learning Disability. But it is more than that in some ways, because it does affect the way the person both perceives and interacts with the world at large, besides just in school.
      Individuals can, as discussed above and elsewhere in this article, have various perceptual and expressive problems sometimes significant enough to prohibit them from performing various daily tasks such as reading a menu, correctly ordering what they want for lunch then counting the change from the purchase. Extreme cases would have been called Mental Retardation in a bygone day.
      In mild cases, the person is able to pass without notice in the normal work and school environment with only the occasional lapse which can almost be laughed off. In extreme cases, the individual requires special classes or training and sometimes medication due to related problems like ADHD which can result in bursts of anger or other socially inappropriate behavior as a result of being 'different'. Others may be unable to function in the world at large and live in group environments with consideration given to things like complex instructions for working a microwave.

Now- HOW you get it...
      "You'se is borned wit it."
      That's right. Something in the wiring in the Desk's brain is somewhat different than everybody else, and has probably been that way since very early in its career.

( ...if you know the Desk or are a long term reader you may have always suspected this...)

      There is a genetic factor for what seems to be a predisposition for it, like some cancers and diabetes, but having the genetic marker isn't a guarantee you have it nor is not having it insurance against it.
      Theories abound as to whether maybe some oddball environmental factor or as yet unknown infectious agent, possibly coupled with one or more genetic traits, result in the condition. Maybe you need a minimal exposure to Chinese food, or a certain amount of sunlight on a cloudy day in March during the full moon when a pig is facing north. In other words, nobody knows, nor can they even venture a serious guess. In some families mom and dad both have it, but only one of three kids have it, or neither parent and two of the kids, or whatever.
      At one time it was thought males have it more than females, however, the actual numbers don't bear that out. There appears to be no significant real world difference in overall cases between the sexes, but there may be some difference in the manifestation between them. Say, equal numbers have Dyslexia, but girls may have this or that 'flavor' of it more than boys, or boys get that type more severely than girls. More will become known as research progresses.
      Also, it does seem to run in families. But it can also suddenly appear in one generation with no causal agent apparent. And, even in one family, one sibling may have it and another not. The Desk looked for twin studies on the matter and came up short. While it has been studied, there was nothing definitive.
      Part of the problem is that Dyslexia isn't a 'disease' where you can take blood and test it and say the patient has it. The diagnostic tests are more or less subjective, and as with the Desk, most older children and adults with it have learned over time to compensate, any test this writer takes now would probably be invalid from jump. And there are all sorts of variations of the condition. One subject might have the spoken language version and no other symptoms while another has every symptom in the book and a couple of others to spare. Still another, like the Desk, would blow scale on the math test, but pass the reading one with flying colors. But it all comes under the heading- Dyslexia.

      Back when the Desk was in grade school, Dyslexia was something they only had in the big city districts like Chicago. Nobody got it in rural backwater downstate Illinois in the late sixties.
      There were no special classes unless the (heaven help us for use of the word) 'pupil' was in really bad shape. If the kid could get by, they got by... "bring them in for math homework tutoring once a week."
      It got by.
      It wasn't until sometime later that the Desk and the 'D' word were ever used in the same sentence. But official 'psycho-medical' diagnoses wouldn't serve any useful purpose at this point in its life, so it has simply never been pursued.
      And even now. There would be no real point to submitting to the testing other than it would be interesting from a research perspective to see the various scores. And like it said before, it has learned to compensate and use workarounds and so on. So it would have to really work to make the test run true, and that would probably skew the results even while trying to do the opposite.

      But even taking the tests 'normally' would be problematic.

      The Desk doesn't usually even notice any problems under normal run-of-the-mill circumstances. Even doing some basic low level math. It can muddle through- slowly. (no trig, no how, no time- sorry, inside joke)
      But that all can change in a hurry.

      Especially if the Desk is in a hurry. Or really REALLY busy...

      Stress, fatigue, even illness can all aggravate the Desk's symptoms.

      With the Desk's day job, things can go from nearly dead to "oh my god" in about three minutes. When it does... well...
      ... the phone is ringing on two lines at once while you are talking on the other one. Some boss is standing in front of you wanting to know what you are doing about whatever it is, while your email box is filling up with demands from customers about something else. Then one of the other service desk people look over and say "the lieutenant governor's office is calling about..." And then the voice mail light on the phone starts blinking....
      .... it is then that the Desk will write a number upside down and backwards.

      Which is one of the things the Desk wants to ask the IDA people.
      In all of the really good information on their site, complete with a breakdown of all their local chapters- Brazil, California, Czech Republic, Ohio, Ontario and so on- it didn't see anything about what, if anything, adults can do to mitigate their symptoms under stress short of not having people breathing down their neck while they're working.

      Maybe it'll join them as some sort of associate member and see what the answer is at their conference in Indianapolis in November 2006.

The International Dyslexia Association website:


[NOTE: The Desk is not a physician nor does it play one on TV. Anything the Desk learns from the IDA of any relevance to the world at large will be posted in a later article. thank you]

Back to the Desk's Main page