By Roger Wong from Hobart, Australia (20100131-52-Dyslexia foundation sculpture) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A sculpture in the Dyslexia Discovery Exhibit in Christchurch, New Zealand

Last week I was multi-tasking at work (as you do), supporting a student to complete a writing task whilst cutting out some freshly laminated literacy resources, and I had an odd experience that turned into an epiphany.

I looked at the word card I was about to cut out, and for a split second I had no idea what it said. I recognised that it was a word, and that it was made out of letters, but the letters looked not-quite-right, and the sequence in which they were arranged made no sense.

Then I realized that the card was upside down.

I laughed quietly at myself, then turned to the child I was helping and said, “Can you help me out here? What does this word say?”

He knew instantly. “Silly – it’s upside down!” He laughed too, and took the sheet from me to turn it right side up, delighted to see the tables turned and the helper rendered momentarily helpless.

And for that fleeting moment I understood what it must be like for some of the kids I work with, the students with dyslexia (undiagnosed or otherwise) or other difficulties, ALL THE TIME.

It made me both profoundly grateful for my and my children’s ability to read and write with comparative ease and fearful and aching for those who cannot.

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