It’s ironic that dislexic (sorry, dyslexic) is such a hard word to spell and this could impact on the type of advice someone gets about the problem. A quarter of the people searching on the word ‘dyslexic’ in Google end up searching for the misspelt version. Personally I never had a problem with spelling the dyslexia even before my successful treatment. It breaks down into three strong, distinctive sounds Dis-lex-ia and as long as you remember it is ‘dy’ rather than ‘di’, its easy.
Along with many
dislexics dyslexics, I could spell a reasonable number of apparently difficult words for the same reason. A distinctive pattern of strong sounds (phonemes) gave me a structure, a shape in my head that I could base the spelling on. The phonemes themselves had to be ‘easy’ phonemes, that is the phonemes and the letters used to represent them are consistent. So words with ‘p’ or ‘b’ are easier because the ‘p’ sounds is normally represented by the letter p (e.g. pen, spin, tip). Unlike the ‘k’ sound which can be represented by lots of different spellings, e.g. cat, kill, skin, queen, unique, thick.
However the sounds that were real killers to my spelling were the phonemes for ‘th’, ‘f’, ‘v’ and ‘ph’ or words with significant vowel sounds, such as ‘enough’. No mater how I tried I could not learn how to spell those words. For years I consistently spelt ‘manager’ as ‘manger’ which was always embarrassing as the word cropped up often in my line of work. Words such as those never seemed to have a shape, were slippery like an eel and I could not grasp how to spell them. Compared to spelling these words, there was never any danger of me spelling ‘dyslexic’ as ‘dislexic’.
This disconnection between the sounds and spelling is typical of dyslexics and has given rise to the phonetics movement. Up in the York University centre for dyslexia, Professor Snowling and her colleagues has researched little else. They have found that early intervention with phonetics program does help reading skills. Similarly, fMRI studies have shown there are neurological differences in the relevant language areas of the brain between dyslexics and non-dyslexics. This seems to have convince the Professor and her colleagues (judging by her appearance on The Myth of Dyslexia) that teaching a dyslexic child to read solves the problem despite the fact it does nothing to help other symptoms of dyslexia such as problems with short-term memory, coordination and hand-writing. Knowing I was dyslexic and not dislexic did not make my life any easier.
One of the interesting things I noticed as my spelling improved after the Dore treatment was that I could grasp the shape of those words with subtler sounds. My suspicion is that my improved cerebellum was better at slicing the word in to its phonemes than before. This turned words that had just been an amorphous mess into something manageable. With improved ability to control of my eyes so I could see the written word more consistently and a better short-term memory, the proportion of my vocabulary that I can spell has increased. However I don’t think my ability to actually differentiate the sound has improved that much leading me to suspect those areas of my brain are still weak. This is logical as during their critical years of development they were handicapped by a poor cerebellum. This leaves me with, what I suspect, is a lower than normal level of spelling for someone of my IQ and educational background. This is still pretty good and at least as good as the average school leaver but I do find myself occasionally falling back on the same coping strategies that help me know it was dyslexic and not dislexic.