Volume 9 #73 June
People often ask me whether there are more dyslectic males than females. I don’t know, but if it often seems as though there were, there is at least one thing you must bear in mind as you count. When a little girl reads badly in second or third grade, she wants above all things to please the teacher, so she is quiet and good and tries to look as though she meant the right answer, just forgot. When an eight year old boy doesn’t know the answer, he gives his neighbor a surreptitious kick. It is a great distractor. I once had an eighth grader who was Mr. Niceguy in my class and a real pleasure to teach. Everywhere else he was absolutely awful. One day I said to him, “Bobby, why are you so BAD in English class?”
“Why, Mrs. van den Honert, would you rather be the kid that CAN’T, or the kid that WON’T?” He could time a spitball so accurately that I swear he threw it before the teacher even knew he would be called on. So it was off to the safety of the office, where all you had to put up with was the disapproval of a principal, not your friends. So bad boys are more apt to be investigated than inconspicuous girls.
So I still don’t know.
When the kids grow up and have their own (dyslectic) offspring, there is a big difference between Mamas and Papas who were in trouble in school but never diagnosed. Mama will fight like a tiger to find what is the matter with her kid. Daddy is another story. His male ego is involved. If you test a woman with a quick tactile localization test and she comes out dyslectic, she is pathetically relieved, sometimes to tears, to find out that she was not dumb after all.
If you do the TL test on a male and he blows it, he goes immediately into denial, to the point where it is sometimes actually funny as he mutters and sputters with excuses. (By the way, I NEVER do it on a grown man unless he insists.) And if he is a Daddy, he will deny his kid has anything wrong, either, and often is over strict and demanding. Constant humiliation in school can do a job on a male ego.
A sensitive little girl I know who is going into seventh grade in a new school and who is a terrible speller can follow the advice of a strapping high-school boy who was about to go to college with an SAT of 750 in math and 250 in English! He told me that he just told everybody that he was a rotten speller and always had been. So I advised my friend, if some nasty little girl started to tease her about her spelling, to bust out laughing and say,
“Boy, you’re right. Man, I’m the worst speller! Always was. Can’t spell A THING. You know what? I just ask somebody!” Shuts up the teaser.