By Debra L. Butterfield / LipreadingMom.com Guest Blogger
Marezie dotesan dozey dotesan liddle lamzie divy.
When you first learn a new language it looks and sounds like the above gobbledygook. But stop and imagine for a moment that you aren’t learning a new language. That what your friend is saying to you she is saying in your own language. Welcome to my world.
Several years ago, a book I reviewed for work helped me recognize my problem and attach a name to it. Doctors have never officially diagnosed me, but I battle auditory dyslexia.
Most often when people hear the word “dyslexia,” they think of children turning letters around as they attempt to read or write. There are many subtypes of dyslexia, and they do not all have a visual basis. In auditory dyslexia, a person struggles to distinguish and process certain sounds. In layman’s terms, sounds run together and my brain can’t pull them apart.
As a child I preferred reading textbooks over a lecture from the teacher. As a teenager and young adult, I rarely listened to radio music, nor did I purchase music albums; I couldn’t understand the words. Oh, I bought single-play records by the Beatles; they were all the rage then. But I only understood the chorus. What did I listen to the most? My record of the theme song to original TV series “Hawaii Five-O.”
My youngest son can hear a song once and know and remember every word. What an amazing gift! Give me Michael Bublé and Josh Groban. Yes, they’re very handsome, but the slower pace of their songs makes their words easier to understand. Peruse my CD rack at home, and you’ll find the majority are movie soundtracks or singers like Groban who sing mostly in a foreign language. That’s because there are no words to identify that impact my enjoyment of the music.
When watching a movie at home, closed captioning helps. When captioning isn’t available, whether on TV or during live conversation, the context of the other words often provides what I need to understand the message. Sometimes I pretend to understand what was said because asking people to repeat their words twice is the polite limit. When they look at me strangely, I know I either interpreted their words incorrectly or they think I’m going deaf and don’t want to embarrass me by saying so.
I’m grateful my children have never grown angry or impatient at having to repeat themselves, or when I interrupt a movie at the theater with “What did he just say?” They’ve never said, “Mom, get your hearing checked” because I explained to them I could hear them but couldn’t understand them. The difference may seem subtle, but it really isn’t.
Like my foreign language analogy at the beginning, a person can hear and still not understand.
Like any other disability, physical or otherwise, dyslexia is an issue that deserves your compassion and understanding. Fortunately, my symptoms are mild and did not impact my learning abilities as a child. For many that is not the case. There are many subtypes of auditory dyslexia and, accordingly, various remedies. The issue should be properly diagnosed by a doctor. Livestrong.com offers a plethora of helpful information.
Oh, yeah, that sentence at the beginning…I typed it how I heard it. I was in my forties before I learned what people were really saying: Mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy.
Do you have a comment for Debra or about auditory dyslexia? Post it below.