Reading out loud sounds like it should be easy but if you have dyslexia/irlens it isn’t always the case. I have struggled with this throughout my life while in school as well as work. At first I used to think it was because I was shy due to what teachers used to say. But now I realise it is caused by my dyslexia as I used to get worried about looking slow or foolish if I had read something incorrect or in broken English in front of others. I never used to tell anyone that I used to get nervous but now wished I did as I think I would have had more support.
When I used to sit in my english class my teachers use to give everyone a book and then you used to go round and read a page at a time. This used to physically affect me. I used to get so nervous that I would sweat a lot to the point I had to go to the doctors who said I had a ‘nervous’ sweating condition. I used to feel my heart race and when I say race I mean hit my chest so that it hurts. Sometimes I would feel very sick and faint. And when it was my time to eventually read I used to go red, my hands used to shake and I would read so fast I would run out of breath and just want to sit down.
This is a completely normal feeling for a dyslexic. As explained in previous post we don’t see the page of writing like non-dyslexics. We can’t just pick up a book and give outstanding performance as often we miss words, drop down lines, mistake words for other words and just speak so slow its pretty much broken English. For example, I remember we were reading a army book and it was in Virginia and I once said vagina. Which you can imagine I got laughed at and it was very embarrassing. It’s that fear that causes the issues.
This has a huge impact on your education as quite often you are not focusing at all in that lesson as you are only concentrating on when you have to read out loud. Therefore, this method of teaching just doesn’t work for dyslexics. For example, When I had to read outloud in school I used to work out what page I would have to read as I could count which page I would be on and I would read over and over again to try get it right and make sure there wasn’t any hard words. If there was I would deliberately leave to go to the loo so I could skip the page.
This is not something you should do. This took me a long time realise though. I still struggle with it now but I have learnt some ways to cope but you will still feel the tummy flip I’m afraid.
Below are some ways you can help yourself to reduce the fear:
- Be calm and confident – at the end of the day if someone does laugh due to what you say – your human and just laugh at yourself. Its hard to do but it really does help to shrug off any embarrassment
- If they ask who wants to read – get it over done with. Put your hand up to go first and then you can focus for the rest of lesson or training. No one remembers who goes first anyway.
- If you have to stand and your hands shake like mine do – Just lay book on table and look down. You don’t need hold anything. I find I feel more embarrassed when I can see my page shake also doesn’t help you at all when your words are moving anyway.
- Wear something on your wrist – I used to have hairband I play with and it is easier to read with something to play with and keeps you focused
- Try to speak slowly. I used to always speak so fast that I would get told to do it again. You don’t want this do it right the first time and quicker it is to get through.
It is really hard to do this. However, you are not alone we all go through this. As I say don’t let it beat you – take control of it and work out what works for you.