I have mentioned before that I struggle with reading but I have never really fully explained how I – someone who wrote 3 novels in the space of a year – struggle to read. Granted it seems an unlikely claim and yet, it is no less legitimate.
I have been like this throughout my life and it has been a deeply embarrassing and hugely frustrating thing to live with. Up until recently, I had no idea why I had such difficulty. And then I started researching Asperger’s and Dyspraxia in the run up to my diagnosis. And after speaking to the specialist during my diagnosis I discovered that it is a processing delay.
This effects all information processing and can be better or worse depending on the day and how overloaded I am. On a great day I might struggle with large chunks of information (say a letter or a novel) sometimes I will be able to read it with little delay and repetition of lines to make sure I understand them, on other days this can be slow and stunted – and this is on my best days. When I am overloaded with things, too much for me to process at once, whether that is a current overload of sensory information, or whether it happened earlier in the day or even the previous day, and I am struggling on in an overloaded state, I find I can’t read at all. Maths is out of the question also. If I am overloaded, any extra processing just won’t happen. It all goes to pot and the more I try, the more overloaded and frustrated I get.
This is one of the ways I feel Asperger’s really limits me. Even in high school I was the same. I used to play the guitar and sing. And I could read music, but once I got past a certain level, the need to read the music faster meant I could no longer do it – at all. I just couldn’t keep up. I learned all the complex pieces I needed to play for my highers and the West Lothian Guitar Ensemble (a collection of hand picked school guitarists across West Lothian who put on concerts) by watching my guitar instructor play and mimicking his hand movements. Basically I learned Vivaldi and Mozart by mirror playing – imitating what I saw and heard. Where singing was concerned, it was a memorised word, pitch, tempo thing – feeling the music as it were. But yeah, information processing is my downfall.
An example of how poor my information processing can be on a good day (which is today – so far. Who knows what will happen later.)
3rd sentence (2nd line) I had to re-read no less than 12 times before I finally understood it. It’s not even a hard freakin’ sentence! And even now that I have pre-processed the damn thing, if I read that sentence back, my mind questions whether or not I really do understand the words on the page. This processing delay is the bane of my life. Sometimes I can’t read at all, sometimes I can read and recognise all the words but- nothing. There is no meaning to them, they are just empty and a seemingly unlinked series of words. Sometimes it’s more dyslexia-like where the words are out of order as I read them, or the letters are jumbled, or I read the words in a weird way (2nd few letters then first few like reading the word “forgotten” as”ottenforg”)
(Ottenforg…that’s an awesome place name by the way *scribbles it down for latter use in a book*)
This processing delay can be problematic when traveling… things like: not able to read signs and notifications quick enough or at all, not able to accurately follow directions, counting turn offs on roundabouts and a million other ways make traveling by car a long journey of wrong turns even when you have preplanned the route, lets not even talk about the public transport minefield!
At the end of the day this is something that effects every aspect of my life, it always will. It is frustrating and embarrassing in sooo many ways, but I wanted to share this, because most likely there are others out there who have the same problem. And it’s nice to know that even if you can’t fix it, you aren’t the only one.
Feel free to ask any questions and let me know your experiences with processing delay in the comments.
Cherie-bye the-noo! xx