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Graemea & CYF New Zealand

Graeme Axford documents his Employment dispute with Child Youth & Family, (CYF) New Zealand

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How Dyslexia affects me

People have asked me what is it like having dyslexia so I have come up with a few analogies.

For those who are techno savvy it like trying to network a windows PC with a Mack OS or Linux PC. The operating systems all work on different platforms but can do basically the same functions as each other, e.g. surf the net, email etc The problems occur when you create a file on a Linux PC and try and run it on a windows PC.

Often but not always it come up as a corrupt file, or trying to run an .EXE file on a Linux, it just won't work. Yet essentially on the surface you create a file in MS Office and open it in OpenOffice which both look the same often, but it won't work.

I am like a Linux operating system whereas the rest of the people are Windows. I process things differently however I can still deliver the same results as a Windows PC.

It is the way I get information in and it comes out that makes the difference in the same way a Linux PC has it's own special programming language, it is different from Windows so am I.

Difference dos not quantify anyone passing judgment and making a blanket statement on this bases of who is right more often.

What it means for me.

I have developed my own learning style which works for me, the school system did not work and to be honest the teachers gave up and so did I to a point. Since I was introduces to computers things have changed. I found software like readplease, text to speech to MP3 software and the like, voice recognition and from the computer learnt to read and put in strategies that help like putting policy manuals on MP3 to listen to.

So it takes me longer to pick things up because I have to translate what someone is saying into a way that makes sense for me. Then do it and get the information back translating it again for the person receiving it.

My type of dyslexia is Phonological and Graphical dyslexia. What that means in short is I can not sound words out correctly. That makes using a dictionary a nightmare especially if the word I think I am looking for sounds like a F when it is PH or PS and alike. The Graphical refers to spaces and shapes.

I can not read handwriting nor, when I am proof reading, can I see the difference in words. Example: noise or nose. Most people could look at the word and see it is wrong I have to really study it and even then check because I can not sound it out to find the difference.

I wrote a letter to IRD one day and said I am unhappy about the timeframe for a review but will come round in person and submit my report to you anally, I should of used annually. In some cases I have used aurally.

So I hope that sort of give you some kind of understanding and insight into the literacy issues. The numeracy is even worse I can not do basic math's at all because I get the numbers round the wrong way. This affects everything from giving out change, filling out timesheets, logbooks etc...

And it can get worse.
My dyslexia gets more accute with stress which seems to inhibit my ability to recall things, having said that people I have worked with say I have a higher then usual stress tolerance. If I am stressed my spelling goes to decisively worse, I forget what I am saying middle sentence or repeat myself trying to get back on track from were I was at before I got stuck.

How I overcome this

Another example lets say you are running late for an appointment and realize you put the car keys down and can not remember when and were you had them last. Knowing you are running late you get more flustered which makes it harder to think.

Dyslexia is like that for Me it's in his head he needs to retrace his steps to connect with the lost item. Or another one people say its on the tip of my tongue, I get that all the time so having memory joggers creates connections which triggers the flow of information back on track again. If you get a blocked drain once its unclogged everything flows again Graeme is much like that from a cognitive point of view.

To overcome my working and short term money problems would normally develop what I call memory joggers such as, templates, mind-maps, bullet point notes and use acronyms and if needed a type of hieroglyphics to help trigger his memory. Then I would commit the information to long term memory.

Remember I also have a number of technology options available to me like voice recognition, text to speech to MP3, PDA's among other things etc I have seen him use these all well to overcome the difficulties he faces.

This is some of the free software I use, have a look and play.
Readplease a text to speech application.
Wordweb a free English thesaurus and dictionary.
DeskBot a Clipboard/Text Reader and Time Announcer.
If you can not find these links as they sometimes move go to to download them .
Or go to Google and type in "WinThesaurus".

Since writing the webpage I have been asked to put in some none technophobe answers as a lot of people have not seen Linux to compared it to windows. Here is some example of words I would get mixed up and can not distinguish the differences visually. For example:

        convection       conviction
        quick               quake
        through           thought
        neutral            natural
        perfect             prefect
        squid               squad
        symptoms       simphony        sympathy

The decoding problem comes in with trying to sound the words out even if I did notice it was wrong. I can not phonically decode the vowels sound to hear differences.
Automatic spellcheckers like the one in office would not pick the problems up because they are words spelled right but they are the wrong words.

Trying to understand some dyslexic people can be likened to the genders understanding each other. Example just because we are human does not mean the sexes get were each other is coming from all the time. I agree with the concept behind the book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus depictions.

Dragon naturally speaking voice dictation software can not pick up the difference between, 2, to, too or two, or there and their so that two can put things out of context. Having said all the there is some rally good expensive software out there to over come all the issues I face. Example TextHELP Read & Write, cost £320.00, I have used it before and it really doe work.

Dyslexia is best described as a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing. Accompanying weaknesses may be identified in areas of speed of processing, short term memory, sequencing and organisation, auditory and/or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills. It is particularly related to mastering and using written language, which may include alphabetic, numeric and musical notation.

The upside of dyslexia is the ability to perceive the world from many perspectives: Dyslexia foundation New Zealand

I overcome the short team memory loss with mind-maps, cue cards like people use at speeches, I would also develop templates, use more , bullet point notes and use acronyms and if needed a type of hieroglyphics to help trigger. I would also use a Dictaphone which can transcript itself into word via software.

The very thing CYF saying I have lacking during the interview process clearly points to my disability coming in to play. Trying to read the written work simple/ scenario and get it into short team memory was impossible given the circumstances the second interview was held under. There is no doubt CYF set that up as I have repeatedly claimed and can justify. CYF have totally ignored acknowledging this aspect of my concerns which is why I think they did it on purpose.

Links about dyslexia:
Wikipedia encyclopedia.
Excerpts from The Gift of Dyslexia, © 1994, 1997 by Ronald D. Davis
Some further readings about The Gift of Dyslexia from Dr Wilson.
Dyslexia: Gift or Affliction?
Dyslexia: Beyond the Myth, By: Suzanne Carreker (2004)

Just as a reminder most of this webpage was written on the fly without the aid of any of the aforementioned software. The reason for that was to show people what';s its like living with this condition. Thank you for all the emails and support. To date I believe over 150000 people have viewed the pages. I am waiting on one more thing to happen then I am off to the beehive as promised to protest my case. CYF still have time to put things right. The PM Helen Clark has been noticed of my impending visit.

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