Posted by: thatjen | September 26, 2005


Leave it to the Internet to teach me something new….

I teach lots of kids with different learning disabilities including dyslexia, and I try to have empathy and compassion for them. I think I do a reasonably good job, and work hard to make my lessons open to students of all abilities and challenges. What I haven’t been able to do so far is have much idea what it’s like to be in their shoes. I can’t remember not being able to read. Words just make sense to me. Always have.

But this word verification thing? Now I do have a sense of what it’s like to have text be the enemy. Words and letters twisting around nonsensically. Half the time I can’t do it. Blogger rejects me and makes me try again because I just CAN’T copy those stupid letters in the weird way they show up.

I’m not making light of this. It’s seriously giving me more insight into what I think some people experience. Only for them it is all the time, everything, everywhere. And I can’t imagine what that word verification thing is like if you DO have dyslexia. Ugh.


  1. How ironic that you bring this up. I have similar frustrations, and I was thinking the same thought this weekend–that people with reading disabilities must see things that way all of the time. My brain instantly tries to make an actual word (which is why I suck at word jumbles), and then my hands try to type that word. VERY frustrating!

  2. I am Only SLIGHTLY dyslexic, and I have to re-type the damn word 5 times!

    phew – I thought it was just me…..

  3. Yeah, Dee, me too. I screw up the ones that have no words or word parts in them really badly. If there’s even a fragment of a word in it I usually do better.

  4. So know the feeling!

    And if I’m not mistaken, in one of my “reading for teachers” classes we were given sheets that had things written in similar fashion to the word verification (as well as other differences) to show us more precisely what the students we teach see when compared to what we see. Very enlightening; extremely terrifying.

  5. Miss W, I was thinking about that too. Friends of mine did a simulation exercise for parents where they gave them math problems, played music really loud, flashed the lights and other stuff to see what it would be like to have some learning disabilities (ADHD? not sure).

  6. Ugh. I hate them. Why couldn’t they just put the random nonsensical letters? Why make them curve and wiggle and change colors?
    I get prompted to retype them too. I’ve stopped posting on a lot of blogs that require them. The one I just had to type was igghyanqed. Huh? But the one I am required to type for this entry is only oohl. At least have some consistency.

  7. jen – they might have been simulating adhd, but sounds more like autism to me – kids with HFASD (high functioning autism spectrum disorders) tend to have a lot of trouble with sensory overload.

    I actually find the word verification things sort of fun, like a puzzle, probably cause I’m a nerd like that.

  8. Ahh, but now you learn more about me than you wanted to know: I like puzzles too – but only if I can solve them! I do not like the Word Verification game because sometimes I screw it up.

    (and now I am being punished – screwed up “word” #1)

  9. Very true. I am always retyping the word verification thingies.

    I had never thought of this before, but it does open up a new perspective.

  10. Actually, I am dyslexic and I have no problem with the word verifications. After reading the comments, I think I’ve figured out why.. I’m so used to seeing things that way, that I deal with it the same way I deal with “normal” text in that I take it one letter at a time. As long as I know I just have to re-type it and not comprehend it, it’s cake.

    It is pretty interesting, though, seeing how everyone has difficulties with them!

  11. You know, Peach, I kind of wondered if that were true. I tend to mix up the word verification thing when I am trying to MAKE it into words. If I just deal with one letter at a time, I can usually do it. But that’s not how I am used to interacting with text.

    (Ok, but then Blogger wanted to mess with me. The WV I have right now is so twisted I really CAN’T tell some of the letters apart.)

  12. I’m curious to know if you have looked into the connection between vaccinations and autism, dyslexia, attention-deficit disorder, and so on.

    Many, many years ago I held an impassioned online discussion in a CompuServe medical forum regarding the dangers of vaccinations. One of the interested readers of the exchange sent me a private tell saying he had been on the national AMA board (he was an MD), and that they, the doctors on that board, had privately debated the dangers of vaccinations and had decided that “the greater good” called for endorsing them, even though there would be “a necessary risk.” But not a single one of them would have his own children vaccinated. (He asked me to never reveal his name, which I haven’t ever and won’t.)

    This made me think some long hard thoughts about our medical establishment. My grandfather was an MD and, after doing some research, had likewise strongly advised my mother against having any of her children vaccinated (this was in the 1950s).

    Recent research shows that changes in the immune system, such as though prompted by vaccinations (and these aren’t *good* changes we are talking about) are in fact passed on to our children, which is a bothersome thought when I think of how many people are now into third- or even fourth-generation vaccinations.

    Though I grant that we are all free beings, free to make any decisions about our bodies that we want to.

    Thank goodness the school system allows you to state that your child is unvaccinated due to religious beliefs–they don’t advertise that, and in fact try to pressure you into getting your child vaccinated or, they threaten, your child cannot attend school, but in fact if you flip that card over, there is a space to declare your non-compliance in this, what a friend of mine calls a silent holocaust.

  13. Actually, Marina, I am pretty familiar with this topic (though it’s rather tangential to this post). I have taught students with autism. We have autistic family members. And we plan to vaccinate all of our children.

    Though parents often think that their child was fine until “they got that shot” studies have shown that there are predictive behaviors in children with autism-spectrum disorders that can be identified in babies that are weeks old.

    I know older adults who survived polio. I’ve seen whooping cough in a country where vaccines fell out of favor. I am far more scared of the risks of a contagious epidemic racing through our society because people stop vaxing their kids than I am of the supposed dangers of vaccines.

  14. Hear, hear! to Jen on the vaccination thing. David will be one next week, and we’ve had several injections so far. I HATE holding him still while they do them, but it is so necessary. I know if I had a child that developed autism, I would always wonder, too. But there have been a lot of studies and meta-analyses that have concluded pretty consistently that the vaccination-autism link is not measurable or nonexistent. Whereas there are a lot of case studies and history to show us the serious dangers of NOT vaccinating.

  15. What a fscinating discussion. I have ADHD. My partner and I took a class for people with ADD/ADHD and their partners and we learned that ADD, ADHD and autism spectrum conditions (including aspergers) have been linked to chromosome 16. My father has CLASSIC signs of Aspberger’s (not diagnosed and fairly functional due to perfect choices of career and spouse). Anyway…i never had trouble with the “word” verification either–kind of a puzzle for me too and i’m very good at those. Although i do wonder why they call it a “word” when none of them have been words, at least not in any language i understand…

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