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Confused About Confusion

Hello my loyal followers. I’m finally back after a bit of an extended break. Life has been somewhat chaotic with moving, changing jobs and illness over the past couple of months. But do not fear. I have returned and am eager to continue my quest of delving into and exploring the dyslexic world.

Being confused and bewildered is one of my most common states of mind. Often I may not even know why I’m confused. Both amusingly and annoyingly, I frequently find myself being confused about why I’m confused.

Modern daily life is confusing, complicated and confounding at the very best of times. For dyslexics, and other neurodivergents, the daily grind can be even more so strange and baffling. I have frequently heard about, and myself experienced, brain fog and feelings of internal ‘fuzziness’ when I’m feeling confused and overwhelmed (Discussing The Dyslexic Brain, 2021). Metaphorically, it can be like trying to look clearly through a window that fights back. Instead of being transparent, what one can see and process become opaque, blurred and in essence unclear. Subsequently, this confused and ‘fogged’ state of mind can have a massive impact upon a dyslexic individual. The causation and grassroots of this confusion can really vary between dyslexics. However, what dyslexics do share is for incoming information and stimuli to be presented in a different and preferred way that is easier for them to process.

An enlightening and ground-breaking book by Ronald Davis (2010) explored and discussed how dyslexia is a ‘gift’ and great beneficiary to those with a dyslexic profile. Moreover, within his works confusion within dyslexia is thoroughly explored. Davis (2010) famously coined the term ‘disorientation’, whereby the human brain is overwhelmed and unsettled potentially by contrasting or conflicting information. When such events occur the brain unknowingly sees a warped version of reality. This ultimately acts as a barrier for dyslexic individuals to perceive the world around them accurately and efficiently (East Bay Solutions, 2013). Examples of dyslexic disorientation can include: incorrect or inconsistent spelling, misreading words, skipping words or whole lines when reading, presenting with poor balance and coordination and difficulties with handwriting.

Most notably, an individual’s ‘threshold’ or proneness to disorientation can be impacted by a number of extraneous factors. Notably these can include: illness, fatigue, stress, loud noises, time pressure, fear, a change of environment, reminders of past failure/unpleasant experiences, poor lighting and incorrect size or font of text (Dyslexia The Gift, 2008, East Bay Solutions, 2013). In this way, such occurrences can act as a catalyst or accelerant for confusion and brain fog. As an individual’s threshold to disorientation can change and alternate, their dyslexic symptomology may also change from one day to the next. Intriguingly this can help explain why a dyslexic individual may be able to successfully perform a task or action at one point in time, but potentially not in another.

Much literature centres on ways to reduce and minimise disorientation. Disorientation cannot be banished entirely, but can be managed and challenged. The first step to achieving this revolves around being able to recognise, identify and pre-empt when we may become disorientated. This may include, for example, particular situations or tasks that trigger confusion and associated stress and fatigue. The quest for searching for the grassroots of this confusion can be a rocky, turbulent, yet very rewarding experience (East Bay Solutions, 2013). Sometimes it can be unclear and mystifying what may be confusing us. Other times, it can be as subtle as a slap in the face.

A second and crucial step to helping lower disorientation is for dyslexics to overtime develop and perfect coping strategies that help them when faced with challenging situations. Termed ‘compulsive solutions’ by Davis (2010), these individualised hacks, tips, patterns of functioning and compensatory behaviours become part of one’s daily routine. Ultimately, these can assist a dyslexic individual to view the world from differing perspectives, that makes sense to them, and perform tasks that are required of them. Such tips and solutions can include using assistive technology, asking for assistance with reading or proofreading, periods of intensive concentration, returning to a task frequently for short bursts of work and even ritualistically overlearning spelling, facts and figures (East Bay Solutions, 2013). These uniquely developed coping strategies can help to negate disorientation and allow a dyslexic individuals talents, gifts and creativity to blossom.

Feelings of confusion and disorientation can be commonplace amongst the dyslexic population. As has been explored, this natural process occurs from being exposed to conflicting or contrasting information or being subject to too much incoming information. Methods and techniques however, do exist to aim to identify and reduce these feelings and thoughts of brain fog, fuzziness and confusion.

Useful Links

Davis, R, D. (2010). (3rd ed). The Gift of Dyslexia: Why Some of the Brightest People Can’t Read and How They Can Learn. London: Souvenir Press Ltd.

Discussing The Dyslexic Brain(2021). That Fuzzy Feeling: A Dyslexic Story.

Dyslexia The Gift (2008). Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia.

East Bay Dyslexia Solutions (2013). Disorientation and The Threshold For Confusion.

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