This year I’ve tried to focus more heavily on managing my time. As soon as the assignments were given I allocated time for them. I made sure that I approached all of my school work as a whole instead of the more serialised approach that I took last year. While this has equated to none of my assignments being completed, they are each very nearly finished, and all of them are above passing point according to their associated marking schemes. I’m pretty proud of this achievement, and will be sticking closely to my time management approach, its served me well.

I’ve identified a couple of weaknesses that I’m going to work on this semester that that’s mostly around my programming approach. I’m very much a write now and ask questions, or not, later type of programmer. On my final year project it was mentioned, and this year it’s already been mentioned a couple of times and that’s testing. I’m lousy at testing, in that, while I test as I go, I don’t keep any record of it. So one could say that I don’t do any testing at all.

I went to an interview for a placement and was given an exercise to carry out in a TDD situation. I failed this catastrophically. I should know about unit testing, and TDD as I’ve had a fair amount of exposure to it but I just never use it.
So this semester I’m going to approach all of my programming assignments using TDD. I’ve seen the quality of the code it promotes first hand and I want to bring myself up to that level.

Another weakness that I tackled early on and feel is worth mentioning is time wasting. This was actually a bigger problem than I realised. There was the phrase I heard that went something like “A lot of time is wasted beating your head against a wall hoping it will turn into a door.” I thought about this and realised that I spent a lot of time not understanding stuff. The next time your in a ‘beat your head against the wall’ situation think about how much time you spend with your head on the desk, or in your hands, or wherever. For me it was a lot. I’ve sat for hours thinking and fretting about how I don’t understand it, or don’t get it, or whatever. As soon as I get past that hurdle, the work would get done. But often by that time it was bordering on too late. So initially I focussed on how quickest to get over that hurdle, which is ridiculous now that I’m looking back at it, it’s kind of like planning to fail, or trying to take account of your own stupidity. So I determined that there was no need for that hurdle to be there in the first place. I know I don’t understand the subject, which is why I’m sitting there trying to learn it. So now when I approach work I find myself struggling to grasp the concept or whatever I push my brain into different mode, usually I just push on, I try things, test things, read things if it comes to that until the concept become more clear.
I tell you, I’m getting twice the amount done as before.

The Starting Line.

I’m dyslexic. The official ‘diagnosis’ is literary dyslexia which put simply means that I can’t read or write… My actual situation is quite a bit more complicated than that but that’s not really why I’m writing this.
I’ve suspected that I’m dyslexic for some time now but it was only upon looking seriously at attending University that I really thought about getting assistance for it. I heard that support was offered and I figured ‘what did I have to lose?’.

I have never really found the condition to be particularly debilitating, but then my school record it far from exemplary. I dare say that much of the trouble that I have now is possibly the result of my being aware of it. You hear people say stuff like ‘Well at least I have a name for it now’, well it’s kinda like that but in the opposite direction to the context in which that phrase is normally used.  All the little things that I do that drive the people around me crazy are now put down to my being dyslexic rather than something like just not thinking or listening. At the same time, now that all of my teachers have been given my assessment I have found that I’m treated somewhat differently to how I was before. None of my teachers were told until about 7 weeks into the course so their change in behavior with regards to me was sudden and obvious. It’s like some of them put on a pair of gloves before speaking to me now. Dyslexia has long been a polite word for idiot, as understanding of the condition has grown, it seems that it’s only grown more polite.

Yesterday I had my needs assessment. This is effectively a long conversation with a specialist so that he/she can make recommendations as to equipment or techniques will help me with my studies. They have my initial assessment report in front of them and we discuss it, me, life, etc etc. The whole thing was very interesting to me, not only because the assessor was intriguingly humorless, but because of what she, as an expert, knew of the condition. The idea behind the whole program is to try to ensure that everyone starts at the same starting line, they give us access to things that other students wouldn’t necessarily ‘need’ so that we don’t fall behind. In my case I’m simply trying to disarm my tenancy to look for excuses.

A classmate of mine who is also dyslexic had his needs assessment last week and he found it really discouraging. He didn’t realize just how much help he needed, despite his continuous efforts to counter the condition, he genuinely works really hard at continually practicing the things that dyslexics tend to struggle with. He came away with a needs list as long as his arm and couldn’t help but feel… well stupid.

These are some of the things that can be recommended.
Dictation Software.
Text to Speech Software.
Colored Layovers.
Tinted Glasses.
Specialist Tutors.
Printing Budget.
Colored Paper Budget.
Books Budget.
Extra Time for Exams.
Extra Time for Assignments.
Spelling Errors Allowance.
Grammar Errors Allowance.
A computer.
Access to Lecture notes and other such material before the class.

My classmate got the whole list, plus a few more that I can’t recall just now, recommended for him. I can understand why he would feel discouraged. It’s a bit eye opening when someone spells out exactly how much you struggle in such exacting detail.

I got everything on that list recommended, I turned down the readers and writers, having to tell someone what to write for me or likewise having someone reading to me is likely to end with some form of face punching. I can’t say that I feel disheartened by this, as far as I’m concerned, the fact that I’ve done alright this far speaks for itself, the additional help can only be… helpful… It’s not as disability in the sense that I can’t do certain things, it just takes me longer. These recommendations are just to make sure I can keep up and while I’m doing alright now, it’s been made pretty clear that’s not likely to be the case for long.

One thing that surprised me somewhat but really shouldn’t have, was the assessor pretty much scolding me for taking notes at lectures. Apparently this is the worst thing a dyslexic can do because it shuts down all the wrong areas of our brains. I’m now, upon pain of death, only to listen and record… With the dictaphone that I’ve not been given yet… I guess we’ll see how that goes.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.