Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dyslexia and Disability

It happens like this: I'm filling in an application form for a job or a writers' residency or anything that I really, really want. I go through all the stuff about qualifications and experience and why I'm the perfect person for whatever it is. And then I get to a box marked 'Disability'.

The organization I am applying to will probably have a policy of interviewing all the disabled candidates who can tick the other required boxes. Dyslexia is officially a disability. If I put a tick there, I am extremely likely to make it to the next stage.

And I should be able to tick the box. I have problems with my short term memory. I can't sequence events very well or know when a word is misspelled or remember people's names or hold visual information in my head or track the flow of time. This is my dyslexia. It is an inherited cluster of problems. A specific disability.


I don't regard myself as disabled - whatever the official description of dyslexia may say. Sure, I'd like to be able to remember stuff better and do all those neat things with time that everyone else seems to manage without effort. But I wouldn't give up my sense of three dimensional space - which seems to be another of the cluster of dyslexic attributes. (I won't call them symptoms). It is the way I experience the world. It is a sense akin to touch, in that it can feel textures. Akin to sight, in that it operates over any distance. X-ray sight, in that it can penetrate walls and ceilings, experience the texture of the bricks or slates I know to be on the other side. It is an abiding sense of the shape and feel of the spaces all around me.

What about that box on the form? Maybe I put a tick in it and write a note on the side to explain. Assuming they can read my bad handwriting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a similar problem with the disability box. As a writer, I want my work to stand on its merits and I don't want to be guaranteed an interview on the basis of something which probably gives me a creative advantage and hence disadvantages writers who can't tick the box. Frequently I question why the box is there at all - it could simply be replaced with a "are there any adaptations (such as wheelchair accessibility, etc), that you require us to make?" question which would seem much fairer.