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Michael Charles Messineo

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My Dyslexia
By Michael Charles Messineo
Posted: Monday, December 01, 2003
Last edited: Monday, July 25, 2011
This short story was "not rated" by the Author.
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Dyslexia can slow you down but not stop you from your goals. Understanding what it is, can be most enlightening.

I struggled with reading in elementary school as the words grew harder and more challenging. My reading comprehension was terrible. I was isolated from the main students and put in special classes for slow readers. I remember being forced to read short stories and then answering questions about what I read, but I found a way to cheat. I would read the questions first, then read the story for the answers focusing on key words.


I never knew I had dyslexia until I discovered it reading a medical journal when I was about 25. I had no idea that it was even a problem. I just thought I was slow, which turned out to be wrong. Throughout school, when it was time to do a book report, there was simply no way I could read a whole book and successfully turn in a report. In the 4th grade, I was desperate as the deadline drew near for a book report. So I did the next best thing. I cheated and made up a book. I created the title, the characters, and the plot and proceeded to weave a tale of imagination. The result: my first "A" in English. I waited patiently to get caught and as the next book report was due, repeated the process and successfully received another A. The bad part was that these teachers never discovered my poor reading habits, but the good part was that I continued to make an A on every book report that I turned in for the rest of my school years.


 I have learned to compensate for my dyslexia by creating tricks to get around it. When I deal with numbers, I read the numbers in groups to add a flow of words. So a number of 151 becomes one hundred and fifty one, and not one-five-one. 422 becomes four hundred and twenty two. By saying it this way, instead of saying just each number separately, it locks in the numbers for me and stops me from transposing them in a different order. It probably sounds confusing, but I never make a mistake with my numbers.


I can read a magazine and newspapers very well because of the smaller columns. But when a line of print is lengthy, I tend to get lost and actually bring up words from other sentences to join the one I am reading, thus making what I just read, incomprehensible.


No person in my family, or at any job I have ever held knew about my dyslexia. I was always afraid a manager or supervisor would hold it against me.


Have you ever dialed the wrong phone number because you reversed two numbers? Ever read a paragraph and not completely understand what you just read? Ever write a word using letters out of order, have trouble balancing your check book, spell poorly, type the same words wrong almost every time.. these are all forms of dyslexia.


WHAT IS DYSLEXIA? Dyslexia is a severe reading problem of neurological origin in a person, for whom there are no other physical, medical, or psychological conditions sufficiently serious to account for the language handling deficits.


WHO HAS IT? Anybody can have it, and, yes, it often runs in families. Conservative estimates vary between 6 and 20 per cent of the population. No correlation has been found between the incidence of dyslexia and nationality, income, ethnicity, race, or IQ.


WHAT CAUSES IT? The dyslectic person is using his right hemisphere instead of his left to read and spell. The two most important contributors to dyslexia are an underutilized left-hemisphere, and an out-of-whack central bridge of tissue in the brain, called the corpus callosum. The left side of the brain can match a letter with its sound, handle information that comes into your brain in strings, like the sounds in a word: one letter after the other, rather than like a picture where you see it all at once, separate a word into its individual sounds and understand grammar and syntax. The right hemisphere is different. It deals in areas and space and patterns. It doesn't understand parts of speech, or keep track of letter-order in spelling.


Famous people with Dyslexia; Anderson Cooper, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kiera Knightley, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Astaire, George Burns, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Werner Von Braun, Harrison Ford, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, Tom Smothers, Robin Williams, Henry Winkler, Ansel Adams, George Patton, John Lennon, Cher, Bob Weir, Winston Churchill, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, George Washington, Agatha Christie, Leonardo da Vinci, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Jenner, Magic Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Richard Branson, Orlando Bloom, Henry Ford, Charles Schwab, Ted Turner, F.W. Woolworth, Walt Disney.


I was one of the 'puzzle children' myself -- a dyslexic . . . And I still have a hard time reading today. Accept the fact that you have a problem. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself. You have a challenge; never quit! --Nelson Rockefeller


I never read in school. I got really bad grades--D's and F's and C's in some classes, and A's and B's in other classes. In the second week of the 11th grade, I just quit. When I was in school, it was really difficult. Almost everything I learned, I had to learn by listening. My report cards always said that I was not living up to my potential. --Cher


I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race. --Winston Churchill


He told me that his teachers reported that . . . he was mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams. --Hans Albert Einstein, on his father, Albert Einstein


I, myself, was always recognized . . . as the "slow one" in the family. It was quite true , and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was . . . an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day. --Agatha Christie


My teachers say I'm addled . . . my father thought I was stupid, and I almost decided I must be a dunce. --Thomas Edison


My father was an angry and impatient teacher and flung the reading book at my head. --W.B. Yeats


Since I was the stupidest kid in my class, it never occurred to me to try and be perfect, so I've always been happy as a writer just to entertain myself. That's an easier place to start. --Stephen J. Cannell, screenwriter, producer, & director.


I just barely got through school. The problem was a learning disability, at a time when there was nowhere to get help. --Bruce Jenner, Olympic gold medalist


Young George . . . although he was bright and intelligent and bursting with energy, he was unable to read and write. Patton's wife corrected his spelling, his punctuation, and his grammar. --Biographer Martin Blumenson on General George Patton.


I couldn't read. I just scraped by. My solution back then was to read classic comic books because I could figure them out from the context of the pictures. Now I listen to books on tape. --Charles Schwabb


My problem was reading very slowly. My parents said "Take as long as you need. As long as you're going to read, just keep at it." We didn't know about learning disabilities back then. --Roger Wilkins, Head of the Pulitzer Prize Board


As a child, I was called stupid and lazy. On the SAT I got 159 out of 800 in math. My parents had no idea that I had a learning disability. --Henry Winkler


Above information taken from           



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Reviewed by Janice Scott 7/10/2011
Really interesting and touching. I didn't know all those famous people were dyslexic - they have all overcome their problems brilliantly.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Parsons 8/4/2007
This is a wonderful article. I can relate because my oldest son had the same problems in school, even though they knew he had a high IQ and diagnosed the problem...even telling the teachers how to deal with it. They sent me a letter when he was in Jr. High telling me he'd never learn to read, so I taught him myself with comic books and the Bible. He now reads very well, although is a slower reader than some. Thank you for sharing this important information.
Reviewed by Joyce Bowling 1/25/2007
Very interesting write my friend, I as a teacher found the article informative and useful, I am anxious to check out the sites that you've listed. I have dealt with a several children whom were dyslexic and found it a challenge but one I enjoyed. Again, great write.
Joyce Bowling
Reviewed by c lea harris 5/3/2006
My brother is dyslexia, and he has done the same as you,,actually I felt I myself related to these words, that I sent it to my brother, he having to walk the path same as you and many others. I did not know he was for a long time, his wife told me years later, she is the one who encourage him to "over come somewhat," he today is not the most succusful, but we are proud of him, enough to call him brother, (lol)he's grown up now, and runs his own computer shop from home. In school he and I struggeld to make that C, I even thought once, well since I am a little smarter, I'll try college, well I guess it's not meant for me to have a degree on my wall,,instead I have two granddaughters in my lap! There are many of those who have pitied theirselves because of a disability, it is great to see someone that has made it an worthwhile effort in not letting it lead into a path of living on the streets, A pat on the back and a salute to you,,keep the ink flowing,,clea
Reviewed by Betty Torain 12/22/2005
I'm a 74 year-old Dylexic person. I have never let it stop me. But I know the pain of the problem. There are other learning disabilities I have had to cope with. It has only been the last 4 years that I could talk about it, because other people felt that I was so smart. In my field I had people who did the writing for me. I can really teach better than I can perform. Thanks, for sharing this story. Love, Betty (I feel the pain now)
Reviewed by P. Michaels 2/22/2004
Michael, this is very interesting. I bet there are many people who have different degrees of this. Some have well compensated and are still able to be very creative. It takes more persistance, perseverance, and a real desire to achieve though. Thank you for sharing this information.
Reviewed by Judith Pleasant 2/2/2004
Boy you do seem like a very busy and knowledgable person.
I found your story very interesting. It taught me something that I would like to share with you.
I guess I was never thought to be slow or anything. As a matter of fact I did very well with math in school and was good at writing.
But now, I have this numbers game problem. I transpose them a lot. What is strange is, you brought up the right side of the brain as being a possible part of the problem. Guess what? The right side is your intuitive side. Bet you can't guess when I realized I had the problem with numbers. After I met my husband and he brought it to my attention. When was that? When I was getting very deeply involved with my psychic and spiritual mediumship. Makes sense huh? I started paying attention and realized that when I get a phone message I have to listen to it several times to get the call back phone number right. I would say that is my biggest problem with numbers. I lately find that I transpose words sometimes. I was blaming it on my fibromyalgia/rhumatism. But now that you talked about the right side of the brain, it makes more sense to me, because my psychic ability gets stronger as time goes by. Guess there are several answers to things we don't always understand.
Thanks for the information. I think it will help me to try to use my left side of my brain more when working with numbers.
Take care.
Reviewed by Tami Ryan 12/15/2003

I found this to be a very well-written article. Of particular interest to me was the mention of how others manage their way around by means of "tricks". Although my son was very bright (and put into a "gifted" program at one point), and they wanted him to skip a grade, we eventually learned that he had ADD and struggled with the organization of numbers.

Thanks for the informative article!
Reviewed by aneeta sundararaj 12/1/2003
Dear Michael,

I have a newphew who is dyslexic and I am sorry to say that members of my extended family are beginning to show signs of ostracising him for no apparent reason. I have tried in vain to explain to them that this is not a terrible condition and it is possible for him to have a 'normal' life - whatever that may be! Thank you very much for sharing your views. I have printed out your article and will show it to them.

I would like to also commend you on your excellent writing abilities and if I may direct you, please visit my website - We are running a short story contest and you never know, you may wish to join!

Good luck and best wishes.
Reviewed by Oirdheirc Mor (Reader) 12/1/2003
Hi Michael
My dyslexic condition did not become diagnosed till I joined the army,
after that point I just adapted to the seemly irreversible condition.

Later when started my own businesses, an essential need
was a secretary with at least a BA in English literature.

I devised strict routines where customers would fill in details
on forms, and refused to fill in forms in front of salespersons
unless they themselves filled the forms in.

Meeting Bank mangers was always a problem.

My letter writing conducted on a dictating machine
then typed up by my secretary and corrected in their
grammar mistakes.

Just over two years ago after losing my business.
I forced to start writing my own letters discovered that
in reading I was missing out words, sentences and whole lines.
Yet if I spoke the words out aloud the problem decreased

In two years my progress has been remarkable, from a starting point of
writing an incomprehensible letter, I am now writing letters of an
acceptable standard (Still with their bad grammar unfortunately)

And in addition am able to compose and write my own poetry,
something I would not have considered possible a few years ago.

I have still not got over my reluctance to reading poetry, but would
listen to it if spoken.

One I discovered early on was the part of the brain
that is active while editing, is not the same part of the brain used
in composing words or poetry.
I sincerely hope that this gives parents with dyslectic children an
understanding the condition has no relation to intellect,
and that ways of adapting to the problem are possible.

Though it would appear the interest given to dyslexic
problems till recently remained minimal, and children just
left to cope as best they could.
In my particular case I have inherited the gene responsible

The biggest problem I faced was to ignore pedants
openly correcting my bad grammar, few ever tried it twice.

An excellent and well needed article.

Oirdheirc Mor

Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 12/1/2003
thank you for sharing this informative write; well done, michael! you have triumphed over your dyslexia; you are living proof that it CAN be overcome! BRAVO!! (((HUGS))) and much love, your texas friend, karen lynn. :D i didn't have dyslexia, per se, but i DID have adhd, and learning disabilities (was a slow learner, also had some physical disabilities with my sight and hearing. i also had speech difficulties, but speech therapy took care of that).

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