As a daydreamer with dysgraphia I never thought all the stories in my head would ever be shared with anyone else.
Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder of written expression that impairs writing ability and fine motor skills. It is a learning disability that affects children and adults, and interferes with practically all aspects of the writing process, including spelling, legibility, word spacing and sizing, and expression.
With the encouragement of other writers, including Jodi Thomas, I found the courage to submit my stories to an agent. It took a lot of editing, but it was sold to Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. That was eight years ago and twenty stories later I still can’t believe it.
This is the topic we tackle in our newest podcast, Who Asked Us? The Unsolicited Opinion of Two Romance.
My oldest daughter, Katrina Navarro and her fiancé, Mark Salinas join us to give a first hand experience of growing up with Dyslexia. This is the YouTube link, but you can also find us on Spotify, Google Podcast, Pandora and now Apple!
When my oldest daughter was born I would tell her alphabet stories. I was inspired by Graeme Base’s illustrated book Animalia.
As she started school the teachers worried that she wasn’t learning as fast as she should. They suggested that I read to her. I explained I did read to her, every night, during the day, we even made up stories based on alliteration from the time she was born.
If she was having a hard time learning sounds and letters they wanted to blamed it on her environment (aka mom and dad’s fault).
To say the least, frustration would knot my stomach. From Kinder on the second grade I heard the same thing – “You need to read to her more. She needs to see you reading.” Really? I read all the time..some in my family might even say too much. My husband read. He loved reading to the kids. I knew something else was wrong. Finally we took her to a sociologist and neurologist husband/wife team. They changed her life in school. At that point she was too young to be diagnosed with dyslexia, but as it turned out she was severely dyslexia. We did discover that if we tied movement into the learning processes she did better. Having her move her finger in the air as she blended sounds, shooting a basketball as she went over her spelling list made it happen for her.
Unfortunately movement is frowned upon in school especially elementary. Especially when a teach doesn’t “believe” that dyslexia is a real thing and says she is just being lazy. That was a rough year.
I don’t know if it made it easier or harder that learning came without effort to her younger sister and brothers. One of my favorite memories is her reading to our youngest on his bedroom floor. She could read his picture books out loud without fear of being judged.
School years of struggling and working hard were ahead of her. Once she got in middle school and high school she did start enjoying school more. I think it was because of the sports and all the walking between classes. Secondary gave her more freedom and socializing opportunities. She wasn’t “pulled” out of class. She still had to work twice as hard as my other kids but she loved school and was always a favorite with her teachers. I think because they saw how hard she worked. She has prevailed and is getting closer to finishing college.
We tell all of our kids to keep moving forward, failure is just a sign that you are trying and working, don’t let it stop you. Every path is different and as long as you are working toward those goals you are progressing.Can you guess which one she if of our four in this picture?
There are many ways dyslexia manifest it self and some people just don’t understand how letters, made of of lines and shapes came move on people. If images shift on you can you imagine trying to figure out the difference between b, d, p, q? It has nothing to do with intelligence it is about decoding abstract symbols.
In college I discovered I had what is called dysgraphia. I could always read really well and fast, but I could not spell to save my life. One reason I waiting until I was forty before believing I could sell a story I wrote. Author’s like Jodi Thomas encouraged me.
I’m sharing one of our O stories: On the Ocean:
One overcast day an ocelot obviously hiding in the oat grass observed an Old English Sheepdog playing opossum next to the ocean. Offshore an odd sight was taking place. An octopus was overtaking an orca over the waves. The dog’s ordinary owner from Oklahoma was obsessing over the original and outstanding opera singer who originated from Oregon. He ordered two dozen orchids and gave her a standing ovation. She fell head-over-hills in love.