Saturday, 12 May 2012

Living with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia

Recently I did an interview with Sarah from Crafts of the Cwtch, you can read the full interview over at her blog.

Below are the questions i was asked:

- when did you know you were dyslexic?

I wasn’t diagnosed with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia until I was 15, and unfortunately found school a Huge struggle, My English teacher couldn’t understand why, I could read fluently and out loud to the class, but couldn’t spell basic words right. Maths was even worse! I used to copy my friends work, just to get by, in the end I just stopped going.

 Unfortunately for my parents I was labelled a “naughty” child,  my general attitude for the education system was negative, because I just couldn’t cope and keep up in lesson, so I decided to stopped going to school altogether for a few month’s or only turning up some days for registration  and to take part in drama and art lessons . 
As a consequence my parents were taken to court, and teachers didn’t want me in their lessons, the head master, not really knowing what to do with me, stuck me in the “unit” and it was while in the unit that  my learning disabilities were discovered by one of the learning support teachers, to whom I will forever be thankful.

  - what impact has your dyslexia and Dyscalculia had on your day to day life?

Thanks to modern technology and the wonders of spell check, my dyslexia has not held me back professionally, things just take a little bit longer to do, and the only real problem I face is when spell check doesn’t understand what I am trying to spell, but thanks to the iPhone 4 S talk to text function, I can now just say the word I am trying to spell, and it appears right there before my eyes!
The only other recent challenged I faced was while trying to play Drawsome!! Some of you would have witness my dyslexia first hand as I repeatedly kept put the letters in the wrong order, which is really frustrating because I “know” I am spelling it wrong, and I know the letters are in the wrong order, but my brain and fingers get lost in translation.
Now Dyscalculia on the other hand, I really struggle with, because I can’t visualise numbers at all. I can’t do homework with my children (7 and 11), because I am at a lower math level than them {and I can’t spell}, I also get my left and right confused on a daily bases, and struggle to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences.
 Before chip and pin I used to suffer with extreme anxiety to the point that I would avoid going shopping so that I didn’t have to count out money when paying for things. In conversations I would feel intellectually inferior, even with my husband because I just don’t “get “measurements, nor can I subtract or do multiplications in my head.  

- How has it affected your crafting?

When it comes to crafting, at the start I really struggled with the mathematical concepts of a knitting or crochet pattern,(and sewing for that matter) the sequences confused me, and stitch counting  was also a challenge because I have such a bad memory at retaining numbers (because I can’t visualise them), I kept ending up with too many or not enough, even though I had counted them repeatedly, was really frustrating! Then there are the increasing and decreases, and of course put a load of numbers on the same page and that’s asking my brain for trouble.

- What advice would you give to other crafters or potential crafters who have similar difficulties?  Do you have any tips?

Over the last couple of years I have devised a set of procedures, which help me when tackling a new pattern.
  • I re write patterns in to a format that I can understand, doing small sections at a time so that I am not overwhelmed by all the numbers. E.g. inc four instead of 4
  • For patterns where stitch count is paramount, I place scrap yarn every 10 stitches. I use scrap yarn, so that I can still use stitch markers if the patterns calls for them. It helps that I can visually tell them apart.
  • I use a row counter on my phone, but I cannot rely on that alone, so I write down what I have done on every row, I find this helps with my memory as I get easily distracted and often forget what it was I was doing.
  •  Recently though, especially when working on my Pogona I am finding that I can pick up and put down and know where I am by visually looking at the wrong side and right.
And even though the hexipuff pattern took me ages to figure out, {see my vlog for more information} once I made a few, again i feel I have visually imprinted in my brain. Something I would not have been able to do if I had not persevered through the hurdles.  

Seriously I really do feel that as my confidence grows with the practical side of knitting, I am able to be A LOT more visual and instinctive, of course it also helps that I am not a perfectionist and i embrace my slips of concentration or miss calculations with being too hard on myself lol but with each project they are becoming less! So that’s progress right?

So keep at it!! REALLY who needs a Nintendo DS???.. Knitting and crochet IS brain training!!! {Who would have thought!!}


  1. (hugs!)
    My brother didn't find out he was dyslexic until the second time he tried college! When he found out about the dyslexia (and some related learning disabilities) he was relieved. I guess he had come to the conclusion on his own that he just couldn't learn because he was dumb. (Seriously, that is just the kind of conclusion people come up with for THEMSELVES!! I do it, too, but I get so mad when people are harsh on themselves.) Anyways, finding out about it was great because he found strategies that work for him, and no longer blamed himself for his failures. (Well...I mean, it's still his fault if he doesn't study and then gets an F but you know what I mean.)
    Anyways, thank you for an interesting read. I never thought about how it would affect knitting!

  2. I thank you for sharing this as I'm sure there are other people out there who could really encouragement pursuing their craft with these challenges. This reminds me to take a deep breath and pause before getting too frustrated with a project. The pattern doesn't have to win :)

  3. I found your article really interesting, as my son is dyslexic. He was only diagnosed in secondary school, and I could have hugged the person at school who said we should have him assessed. Even though he still has problems, it was such a relief to know they did not think he was just thick. Like you, his reading has always been really good, but he had problems with handwriting and spelling. I think I had the wrong idea about dyslexia, and how much it might affect reading.

    Thanks for your interesting interview, and lovely blog.

  4. I also didn't find out I was dyslexic until I was a teenager in highschool. I hated school, skipped a lot. Even now I still have trouble with numbers. Reading has always been easy for me, and I've always loved to read. Not sure how I learned, but I've always loved to read. I'm a new knitted, recently started crocheting again, but have trouble with patterns. I forget sometimes how dyslexia affects my life in so many ways. Thanks for this post!

    p.s. I found you through Instagram via wool diaries.


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