Rhiannon Brtiney - Dyslexia Article Image

Rhiannon Britney: My Dyslexia Was So Severe All Tests Claimed I Was Not Supposed To Be Able To Read

Rhiannon Brtiney - Dyslexia Article ImageMy name is Rhiannon Britney and I am dyslexic!  I was asked to write an article for Allen’s because I am dyslexic and I have achieved success in my life that many without any type of learning disability have achieved.  I am 59 years old and have several degrees and certificates.  I received my first A.S. degree in Metallurgy in 1977 from a technical high school and college.  I went to the local community college (MSAC) and studied American Sign Language and received an A.S. degree and certificate in Interpreting in 1995.  I made the Dean’s List the last semester there.

I then transferred to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in 1995 to work on my B.A. in Deaf Studies.  The first semester at CSUN they tested me for a learning disability and by the second week of December they had discovered that I was severely dyslexic!  They said that my dyslexia was so severe that I qualified for everything that the blind do.  They said that according to all their tests I was NOT supposed to be able to read!  They said that they have NO idea how, but somehow I taught myself to read, but I am NOT supposed to be able to read.

They told me that I would never pass a class dealing with phonetics. They also told me that I show signs of having problems distinguishing between real and non-sense words.  They also told me that I scored in the 98% in spatial relations which explained a lot for me.  Sign language is a spatial language.  We read, write and talk in a linear style, but the deaf think in concepts their language is 3D.  You get the height, width and depth all at once which explained why I picked it up fast.

I had studied Autocad 11r in 1991 and went through the program (which is 6 months) in a very rapid pace.  I received a certificate in Autocad 11r in 1991.  In 2009 I was in another program for Autocad 2009 and completed the program in 3 months.  For the next 2 months everything that they gave me to complete I handed back to them fast and by the last month they told me to go teach myself 3D and I did!  I did receive a certificate in Autocad 2009, but the department head for the Engineering Design Technology at MSAC came to look over our portfolios.  When he saw that I was the only one doing 3D he told me to come see him at MSAC if I wanted to do more.

In the spring of 2012 I went back to school at MSAC and focused on Engineering Design Technology (EDT), 3D drafting and Animation.  I became the President of the SkillsUSA Club on campus for the 2013 & 2014 school years.  I was State Champion in Technical Drafting in 2013 and got to go to the National Championships and placed 11th in the nation.  I graduated in June of 2015 with 2 degrees and 10 certificates in 3 years.  I received my A.S. in Engineering Design Technology with Certificates for Levels I, II & III and a 3.30 GPA.  I also received my A.S. in Animation with Certificates for Levels I & II in Tradigital, Certificates for Levels I & II in Gaming and Interactive MultiMedia, Certificates for Levels I & II in 3D Modeling and a 3.14 GPA.  They opened the 3D Modeling in the Spring of 2015 and the second they opened it I had earned the certificate.  I made the Dean’s List every semester except one and I made the President’s List that semester.  I did all this and I am NOT supposed to be able to read!

There are many different types of dyslexia and the following is from a book by Stephen Kosslyn and Oliver Koeuig (1990). Wet Mind: The New Cognitive Neuroscience, New York, The Free Press (pp.185-207)

October is Learning Disabilities Month, a time to celebrate achievements of learning disabled individuals and expand our awareness of the causes and effects of learning disabilities.  One major learning disability is, “reading disability,” also referred to as “dyslexia”.  The word dyslexia is made of two Greek words, “dys,” meaning hard or poor, and “lexis,” that is, speech or words.  Therefore, dyslexia refers to a marked difficulty in reading and/or understanding that which one reads. For example, a dyslexic person may misread the word, “dyslexia,” as “lysdexia.”  The reading pattern of a dyslexic is characterized by omissions, distortions, or substitutions of letters or words.  Dyslexics read slowly and haltingly as they struggle with the task of reading.

A mentally retarded person also has difficulty in reading and comprehension, but that is because of mental retardation.  That is not dyslexia.  Dyslexia is diagnosed when mental retardation, inadequate schooling, poor vision, or a hearing defect cannot explain a person’s reading problem.  It is estimated that one in five children have difficulty in reading, but only about 2 to 8% have true dyslexia.  There are several variations of Dyslexia.  Below is a list of a few.

In Literal Dyslxia, also referred to as, “Letter Blindness,” a person has difficulty in identifying letters, matching upper case letters with lowercase, naming letters, or matching sounds with the corresponding letters.  In Word Dyslexia, a person may read individual letters of the word but not the word itself, or read a word, but, not understand the meaning of the word.  Some dyslexics may read words partially.  For example, a person may read the word, “lice,” as, “ice” or as, “like.”  The person may realize that these are incorrect, but cannot read those words correctly.  Some dyslexics do better by moving their finger along the outline of a word or, by tracing the letters in the air. (I finger spell words when I am spelling them).

In Phonological Dyslexia, a person has difficulty in converting letters to their sounds.  They can read words that are already familiar to them, but have trouble reading unfamiliar or novel words.  They also have difficulty in reading a nonword such as, “tord.”  They may misread this nonword as a real word that looks similar.  They sometimes also misread actual words as other ones that look similar.  The word, “shut” may pose this particular problem, much to a listener’s dismay.

In Neglect Dyslexia, a person neglects either the left or right side of words, a problem particularly highlighted in reading long words.  For example, if asked to read, “strowt,” he or she may read it as, “owt.”  Given a word such as, “alphabetically,” persons with this particular form of dyslexia will miss some of the first few letters.  For example, they may read it simply as, “betically.”  There may be a problem with compound words.  For example, a compound word such as, “cowboy” may be read partially as, “cow” or “boy.”

In Semantic Dyslexia, a person distorts the meaning of a word or incorrectly reads a word because of the confusion in the meaning of the given word.  People with semantic dyslexia may say an antonym, synonym, or a subordinate of a word instead of the word proper.  For example, they may misread, “dog,” as “cat” or “fox.”  They may misread, “twist” as “twisted” or “buy” as “bought.”  Some have trouble reading function words such as, “of,” “an,” “not,” and “and.”

In Spelling Dyslexia, a person may have a problem reading all types of words and sometimes have trouble identifying individual letters.  Their reading is extremely slow and hesitant, particularly on long words.  While a normal reader takes about 30 milliseconds for reading each additional letter, a spelling dyslexic may take about a second to do the same.  Some dyslexics tend to read words, one letter at a time, even if those are short and familiar.

In Dyslexia Without Dysgraphia, a person has problem in reading but not in writing.  Sometimes, it is referred to as, “Pure Dyslexia.”  Some have trouble doing written arithmetic because they have to read the text and the numbers, but the same people may not have any problem in doing spoken arithmetic.  Dyslexia Without Dysgraphia may never be identified, because, to confuse the matters, a person may be virtually unimpaired.

In Dyslexia With Dysgraphia, also referred to as, “Deep Dyslexia,” a person has a problem in writing letters and words, grasping word-meanings, integrating the sounds of letters, and in pronouncing unfamiliar, and sometimes, even familiar words.  People in this category face the biggest challenge and need our closest attention for educational and career planning.

Therefore, we can conclude that instead of dyslexia, there are “dyslexias,” and all dyslexias are not created equal.  A careful analysis must be carried out to help a reader, as early in the game, as possible.

Now it is important to keep in mind that there are different levels or intensities of each dyslexia and that one can have one or more types of dyslexia.

Please keep in mind that if you are in school (especially college) that you will need to find a note taker for each class.  I found that using a video camera on a small tripod worked really well for me and it also helped other students in the class as well as some of the teachers.  If you do use a video camera do make sure to get a power pack and a large enough memory card for the camera.

I focused on my strengths and worked with them and not my weaknesses.

I have always believed that there is nothing that I can’t do, because in my mind there is nothing I can’t do!

I have a motto that I try to live by and it goes like this:

“The work you do is a portrait of yourself. What kind of portrait do you want the world to see?

A stick figure….or a Monet?”

I always try to do a Monet!

People who have dyslexia are said to have high IQ’s, I don’t know what my IQ is as they would not tell me what it is. I do plan on finding out though.

I am dyslexic and left-handed, you would think that they would cancel each other out, but NOOOO!

Good luck in your adventures through life and I wish you much success!

Rhiannon Britney

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