In my mid-forties I was diagnosed as “heavily dyslexic”. During my school years, my parents and teachers knew I had a reading problem. But, dyslexia was unknown to academics. They did not have any reading correction tools to help me.
Even as a youngster I knew I needed space, brain space, to learn. And, I found that space right in my home in the form of classical music!! I zoned out in those glorious sounds. That “space” relieved my stress. Did it cure my dyslexia? No. But it made me more willing to study. It is not surprising that I had a successful career as a manager and producer of classical music, mostly opera.
It wasn’t until I accepted a position in opera which required a great deal of reading that I ran into my reading block again. I thought the problem was psychological so I went to a psychiatrist. He guessed I was dyslexic. Testing confirmed his diagnosis. Finally, I knew what I had.
Then there was a set back. I discovered that symptoms typical of a dyslexic — inability to sound out words, read words and a poor vocabulary – were not my symptoms. In fact, I had mastered these tasks. To make matters worse I was told there were no tools to correct my type of dyslexia. Instead I was admonished: “Learn to live with your disability.”
That statement made me very angry. I vowed to find answers. I decided if classical music could help me, there must be other tools. When it was suggested I remove refined sugar from my diet, I decided there was no harm in trying. Much to my relief that single step reduced some of the confusion in my brain and stopped the inner rushing in my chest. Working with a therapist I discovered that anger and other emotions affected my ability to comprehend. I wrote a book, The Other Side of Dyslexia, outlining my “outside the box” approaches and describing what it feels like to be dyslexic. As Paul Orfalea, Kinko’s founder and a dyslexic said: “This book will turn your preconceptions of dyslexia upside down. Try it all, you never know what will stick.”
Several years ago I got a more precise diagnosis. Yes, I have a little dyslexia, but my primary condition is hyperlexia. The combination of my “outside the box” approaches and newly available correction techniques transformed my situation substantially.
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"We dyslexics look at life through a different set of eyes and achieve our goals by naturally reaching outside the box for our solutions. Ann Farris’ book, ‘The Other Side of Dyslexia’, offers us a unique glimpse into the positive and challenging experiences dyslexia brings us.” — Richard Branson: English entrepreneur, Founder of Virgin Enterprises and a Dyslexic
Kathy Johnson author, speaker and educational consultant, (firstname.lastname@example.org,) wrote this book review of my book, The Other Side of Dyslexia. I feel her comments caught the spirit of this book. The review follows:
"Ann was a director of the opera-musical theater program at the National Endowment for the Arts when she discovered she had Dyslexia. She writes in this book about her journey of self-discovery to being able to read.
When I first opened the book, I was delighted by what I saw inside – unlike any other book, each page has colorful simple pictures with the words below. It conveys what she has in her mind: pictures and emotions; less words. My immediate thought was how authentic it is. To get into the mind of a person with learning disabilities, you must go beyond just words, as words have different meanings and understandings. Although in the main part of the book, Ann does not specifically describe the trainings and therapies that she has used to help her, she references them in the end. Anyone who would like to follow a similar path can.
The journey included many therapies that I have used as well, including Brain Gym, Energy Medicine, eye exercises and watching diet. Yet for her, the emotional and spiritual journey helped unlock the physical stress that held her back. Today she is able to use words much better for both her reading and writing.
This book was written primarily for dyslexics so that they can read about someone like them. She gives hints as to how to read it, and the print is big so that people can have an easier time with the words. It is also for the non-dyslexic to understand what can happen in the mind and body of another human. We are after all, unique. One thing I have learned is that we don’t know how other people see, hear or feel unless they tell us. Ann does an excellent job of that!
I highly recommend this book to people who have learning disabilities as well as those who teach, care for, and love people with LD. Enjoy!"
Kathy Johnson, [email@example.com]
"i hated reading. i mean, REALLY hated reading. at the suggestion of a friend, i bought ann farris’ book, the other side of dyslexia, with no intention of reading it- #1, because i wasn’t dyslexic, and #2, like i said, i hated reading. just out of curiosity, i began reading ann’s book, and i didn’t hate it at all. in fact, i really liked reading it. so much so that i have read and re-read the book several times, cover to cover. go figure. as it turns out, i AM dyslexic. this book has really helped me come to terms with a lot of what dyslexia actually involves, and how it affects my life. it’s not all mixing up letters and numbers like we all think! the other side of dyslexia is a great book for people who have dyslexia, for those who don’t, and for those of us who hate to read but don’t know why. what an incredible resource this book has turned out to be for me, and i hope you find it to be so too." –Leah, posted on Amazon
"While I am not dyslexic, I found this book fascinating and extremely infomative. The author’s illustrations are utterly charming. If you are dyslexic or simply want to learn more about this condition, I recommend this book very highly." Richard, posted on Amazon