Teaching since Fall 2001 – 3rd year in 2nd grade

Some adult language in the video below

I understand that people misuse the computer spell and grammar checkers. For me though spell check is the tool that has helped me get control of the dysgraphia that caused me so much grieve for so many years.

 

I always read far above my grade level. I was terrific with mental math, and as long as I didn’t have to go step by step the teacher’s way I excelled in more complicated math. Science and Social Studies spoke to me, and I loved them also. I hated having to write anything.

 

Multiple choice tests were easy. Essay tests – I knew the material but my hand writing was atrocious, and spelling was beyond atrocious. I was yelled at. “You are a smart girl! You know this, you can tell me all about it – just write it down!”

 

I went through some type of testing in 3rd grade. I remember hearing the lady tell my Mom I was just being lazy, because my reading level was so high. In 7th grade, they figured out I couldn’t see the board. I was sent to UH for my eye testing. One of the students picked up on something I did, and they asked my parents if they could run additional tests. They determined I was supposed to be right handed – I write left handed. In my school records they found notes from my K – 2nd grade teachers that I was ambidextrous. Not unusual in my Mom’s family. In 3rd grade the horrible person in charge of my class had actually documented that she forced me to use my left hand. My parents had assumed like many girls in Mom’s family I was more left sided that right. My parents were told this explained my bad hand writing. I went through physical therapy for the 2nd time in my life. The first time was for my toeing in, the doctors thought that was why I tripped over my own feet all the time. It helped a little.

 

I remember feeling like I was nuts or a fraud. Everyone would go on and on about how smart I was, but I couldn’t remember how to make a lower case e. I remember sitting on my Sky Nanny’s couch, in Montague, PEI, Canada. I wanted to send my best friend a post card, but I couldn’t write a lower case e to save my life. There are 4 lower case e’s in my full name. I found one in a book, but still couldn’t figure out how to make it – I was 9 yo. I asked an Uncle for help, he thought I was joking. I fled out of the house, past the little league baseball diamond my Pop had built into the high grass and made a nest. I sat there and cried myself to sleep.

 

I made it into University. 2nd Semester Freshman year I had Freshman Composition. The walls started to close in on me. Screaming Jack Harris was the professor. I turned in an in class essay to him. He called me back and asked how he was supposed to read it. I was practically in tears. I told him that I had done the best handwriting I could in the time. If he wanted I would rewrite it and not change a word right in front of him. He looked at me and said, “you really can’t see it can you? Read it to me”

 

I read the essay out loud to him and got an A on content no grade on mechanics. He told me to take the blue book to Learning Styles. I did. I was very frustrated. I read the essay to them also. They said, “How did you make it through a school like Memorial?” I thought they thought I had cheated my way through. I was finally caught I was really stupid and was going to get kicked out.

 

The councilor had me take the blue book into the bathroom and hold it up t a mirror. The world slid around as I looked in the mirror. The entire essay was in mirror image from start to finish every word. They gave me some more tests and diagnosed me as dysgraphic. I had some simple modifications at university level, mainly being able to use a tape recorder in class.

 

That “label” that others decry was God sent to me. I wasn’t nuts, I wasn’t a fake. There was a reason. I had fallen in love with programming, in high school. Now computers – word processors opened up a whole new world. I didn’t get defensive and tense when the computer underlined a word. I had handwritten words 5 x, 10 x, 20x and not gotten the correct spelling in my brain. Using the spell check to identify misspelled words, and then looking at them, sounding them out, figuring out the puzzle and only as a last resort using the suggestions from the computer – those correct spellings finally registered in my brain. If I used the suggestions, then I typed the word 5 times and I would remember it. I remember finally figuring out how the word “their” was spelled. It was like light finally fell on my world – things made sense.

 

So yes spell check and grammar check can make someone lazy, but don’t underestimate its potential to help someone with a learning disability.

 

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