Being born in the late 1980s, I lived in an era when people only usually acknowledged illnesses and conditions that manifested physically.
Children who read late were slow learners or had low intelligence, and underlying scientific factors were not considered. Dyslexia is one of the learning disabilities that I’ve heard of several times but never really paid attention to until it hit home.
When I met my husband
I met Noel in 2004. We became friends due to common interests in music, food, and lifestyle. When I moved to Manila for college, he was one of the first ones who welcomed me to the new chapter of my life and even convinced me to transfer to his University after my first year in another State U. Fast forward to two years of going on dates, we decided to officially become a couple.
In 2006, he dropped out of school. His reason? Maths in Architecture were too challenging. He spent a decade in college where he shifted courses three times. After dropping out, he opted to work full-time and earn. He landed a job in the BPO industry and has been a constant high performer. He was happy and felt a sense of fulfillment.
After five years, despite his good performance in the companies he’d been with, he experienced difficulty getting promoted. So in 2012, he decided to enroll again via Open University in the hopes that having a degree would make a difference. He was taking two to three subjects per sem, but after three years, he stopped studying again after struggling with a lot of reading requirements.
Encouraging my dyslexic husband
We’ve been married for two years already. Of course, I want him to earn a degree. Despite my disappointment, I’ve mustered the courage to become more upfront with him. I asked what the problem really was and how we could work on it together. His goal became my goal.
He became honest with me and shared how reading and memorizing things challenge him. During one of our Bible study sessions, we were requested to do a Bible-verse sharing.
My dyslexic husband and me
I’ve observed that he found it hard to read out loud because he mixed up letters and would end up saying a different word. That’s when we started researching more about this condition and discovered dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a neurobiological condition that results in difficulty in reading as a result of individual differences in language processing in various areas of the brain. Dyslexia may also cause trouble speaking, writing, spelling, and memorizing.
Being aware of his situation
Knowing about this condition and understanding it better, he decided to enroll again in 2019. This time, the Dean gave him an ultimatum and a study plan. If he doesn’t finish by 2022, he won’t be able to finish the degree at the University anymore and would have to transfer. It was a fair deal since 2022 will be his tenth year taking this course.
I did my best to help him stay on track. We tried finding online resources as alternatives to the long reads. We looked for videos and more digestible content. Classes that involved programming were the hardest. One wrong letter or number will mess up the code. It took him days and nights of practice but some time-bound tests can be heartbreaking. But he endured it all.
I got pregnant in February 2021 and gave birth in October. He just enrolled for his last year in school based on his study plan. His life as a husband, a father, and a student got tougher.
The hardships of my husband who is dyslexic
The lack of sleep meant difficulty in focus and the last year in school also meant plenty of research work and writing his thesis. He had to work and study smarter. He resorted to audiobooks or downloaded ebooks and used text-to-speech apps. We were able to appreciate and take advantage of technology more.
I have started embracing the fact that my husband is a different kind of learner. And around us are many other types of learners.
My husband, despite this condition, is highly creative. He cannot read notes but can play the guitar well. He can actually try playing a song after hearing it a few times. He’s good at drawing, and despite the challenges in reading, he’s been my editor for 18 years now.
As a new mother, I also acknowledge the possibilities. Since dyslexia is hereditary, we have to prepare as parents to prepare our baby.
We are addressing and overcoming dyslexia as a family. My husband started listening to dyslexia self-help audiobooks, while I enrolled in an online course Overcoming Dyslexia whose Instructor is also the author of the best-selling book with the same title.
We are blessed to be in an era where we have better access to resources about this condition. We have more advanced technologies to cater to different kinds of learners. We have more types of media that make learning more fun and inclusive.
If you ever find yourself in a position where you feel like someone in the family has a different learning ability, don’t hesitate to seek help.
Early intervention, a change of mindset, and building a strong support system will surely help someone become more resilient, creative, and successful in his pursuit – just like my husband.
Note: This article was carefully edited by my husband. This is a form of writing practice for me and reading practice for him.