Dyslexia: to be tested or not?

Every once and a while (OK, whenever I have a crushing pile of reading and/or writing to do) the question of my potential reading disability comes to mind. Besides the time and money commitement to get tested, I am still not convinced I should. What would a diagnosis mean besides an trim little label to explain some of my oddities? Do I need a label? What if I don’t even qualify? In these busy times, the effort and the uncertainty undermine curiousity and other intentions.

Despite not getting tested, I keep a mental list of all the reasons I think I might be diagnosable. Some of them are fun, like being able to read backwards and upside down and understand knots, others less so, like regularly misspelling common words (I hate adverbs and vowels and english). Today I noticed another reason for my love of taking notes on construction paper. Usually I attribute this habit to the haptics of ball point on loosely packed fibers, but using non-white paper is a common trick to help (some) dyslexics read printed instructions, and it’s true that I have preferences for some colours over others.

The trouble now is the same as the trouble back in high school, when my guidance councillor refused to consider having me tested for learning disabilities. If I do have some kind of documentable “abnormality”, it hasn’t been holding me back enough to make many people worry. Maybe I have to struggle more with some things but other stuff is a breeze; everyone has their challenges so why should mine get special accommodations? When my motivation is high, I do read and write, enough to get me through nine years of post secondary education and counting, so I really shouldn’t complain.

For all that I don’t know if it’s actually a legitimate label, I have sometimes used dyslexia as an excuse. At least I include the caveat of “untested” before a slew of reasons why I interpret some problem to be connected to my apparent sequential processing deficiency. I remember my panic before my last musicianship exam, when I still couldn’t reliably differentiate melodic whole steps and half steps within key. At that point, it was hard to tell whether the problem was my brain or just a lack of practice, though having gotten through musicianship 1 through 5 without solving the issue suggests something fishy. My teacher listened to my fears and suspicions, nodded sympathetically, and in the end I did OK, so that wave of worry passed too.

Maybe I’ll find some convincing arguments about getting tested online somewhere, but really, I should just get back to my readings and finish pulling together references for Thursday’s presentation. Looks like this is being put off yet again for the next season of overwhelming work.

One thought on “Dyslexia: to be tested or not?

  1. Hey Finn,
    Following our chance meetings in the elevator and in Mary’s office, I decided to spy on you, and ended up really enjoying your website.. I could easily relate to your blog topics ;l
    As I mentioned the other day, I am thinking more profoundly about academic careers (or not to be) these days, and I would love to pry your mind a little bit and share my experiences too, beer on me..
    Also, do you any improvisation, contemporary/new music like on your bassoon?
    Cheers, off to Amon Tobin concert!

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