What is the link between learning disabilities and fibromyalgia?

Most people don’t realize that there is a link between learning disabilities and fibromyalgia. A recent research shows that a significant percentage of people who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia have a learning disability, such as dyslexia. This disability is the cause many problems such as following a conversation and finding the right words to express oneself.

A lot of these younger patients are very challenged in school situations. Dyslexia makes it difficult to read and to write. It also slows down the thinking and response process, because the child as to constantly translate words and letters in their heads. This can be very frustrating.Many of these children if not supported properly end up hating school and quitting early.

Older patients find it difficult in their jobs because they have manifestations of a learning disability. I know I have written emails to my boss only to get a reply back asking me to take a 10 minute break and try again. I once wrote lunch with all the right letters, but not one was in the right order.

When having a conversation, have tolerance if the person you are speaking with forget or change the words. I know I do this all the time. It’s particularly embarrassing when it happens with my employer or with strangers.

Working with Chronic Illness

I  work in a 9-5 or office environment. Working full time can take a lot out of you and that’s regardless of your health status. Many of us who have chronic illnesses are still working full time, whether we can afford to or not.

I used to be an overachiever. I used to take pride in being a great at multitask and thriving under stress. Things have changed drastically since I started getting sick and unfortunately, management don’t believe that these changes have to with my illness. After all, I have multiple invisible illness. This means that you can’t see what these illness are doing to my body. That you can’t see how much pain I’m in. That you can’t see how difficult it is to remember things, to concentrate, sometime it’s even difficult to see.

Working with chronic illnessI am worrying incessantly. I worry that I forgot to do something. I worry that people will complain about me again. I worry that my boss thinks I don’t take my job seriously. Employees in a demanding job are expected to deliver more than they can give and this increases their chances of acute health problems, so you see the problem here for someone who health is already an issue.

I worry that I’m going to loose my job. The main reason for stress at work for most employees is the risk of losing their jobs, so in that I’m not alone. I worry about paying bills. I worry about my health that seems to be getting worse regardless of all the steps and the medication I’m taking. I am constantly upset at night that I hadn’t completed my workload, that I haven’t done enough dishes, clean clothes.

I keep pushing on. In some misplaced way, I felt I owe my employer and my family. I feel I owed them a healthy employee, because they aren’t accepting the disable employee as I am now. Unfortunately, it’s something I can never be. I am too sick to be the employee that my employers want, but I’m not sick enough to get permanent sick leave and I need my group insurance to pay for the medication I need. I also need the paycheck to help pay the house and the food that my family needs. Guilt is driving me.

The problem is that the longer you stay in a job working for someone who stresses you, the greater the damage is to your physical and mental health. The harder I’m trying, the more energy I’m using, the sicker I’m getting.

As a society, “doing our best” has turned into giving too much and working until we have some kind of burnout or breakdown. That’s dangerous for anybody, let alone those who struggle with chronic illness.

What are the signs of dyslexia?

It’s important to understand that not all dyslexic show difficulties in the same way.

Most typical problems experienced by people with dyslexia include the following:

  • Learning to speak (I didn’t have any issues learning to speak as a child, but I find that with age, I mix up words and pronunciations more and more. It doesn’t help that I regularly deal with multiple languages.)
  • Learning letters and their sounds (I had issues and still do with b & d, p & q, etc.)
  • Organising written and spoken language (mixing words)
  • Memorising numbers (I personally have no issue with memorising numbers, it’s repeating them in the right order that’s the issue.)
  • Reading quickly enough to comprehend. (I can read perfectly when reading quietly. Reading out loud is still difficult.)
  • Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments
  • Spelling (I always sucked at spelling. It took years before it was discovered that all my spelling errors had to do with the order of the letters and mixing b & d or p & q, for example.)
  • Learning a foreign language  (I didn’t have any issue learning a new language. Technically, I’m not English.
  • Correctly doing math operations (because we tend to mix up numbers)

Not all students who have difficulties with these skills have dyslexia. Formal testing of reading, language, and writing skills is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of suspected dyslexia. Be prepared that formal testing and diagnosis is not free. It cost me $600+ for my daughter and even with a diagnosis, the school may not have any specialist available to help and guide your child. Private tutoring is expensive.

Suffering from Directional Confusion?

In elementary school, children learn about cardinal points (North, South, East, West). The teacher placed signs on the four walls of the classroom to help us understand which side was north, south, east and west. The students’ desks were all facing north. It took a while before I realised that north was not always where you faced!

I’ve always struggled with my cardinal points and my left and right. In adulthood, I learned that Dyslexia was behind my directional confusion.


When I was younger I used to know that the hand I wrote with was the right hand so I would move my hand as if I was air writing and I would know which side was right. In high school, I dislocated my shoulder and hurt muscle and ligaments so I couldn’t use my right arm for a while. I learned how to write with my left hand… My trick no longer works as I am to this day still ambidextrous.

It is because of the left/right confusion, that a dyslexic will confuse the letters b and d. One letter points to the left while the other points to the right.

Grammar Police

I find it quite pretentious to dismiss someone’s point because of their grammar or spelling is off. We talk about being inclusive, yet we forget that not everyone has had access to the same level of education and many, like me, have learn English only has a second or third language, or again, like me, have a learning disability. I find that many are quick to judge and look down at others without taking a moment to understand that not everyone may have your facility when it comes to spelling, composing phrases and grammar.

phone-958066_1920I have dyslexia and struggle sometimes with speech and grammar. I would never judge someone on their ability to spell.

A great book that I read back in college was the “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, which is written through the eyes of the main character from the Great Depression era who didn’t have much education. It is full of spelling and grammar mistake. This book won a Pulitzer Prize. It isn’t a story that should simply put aside because it wasn’t written with “good” English.

Dyslexia – Why teachers need proper training

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition.

I believe that it is truly important that teachers have proper training on how to recognise Dyslexia in the class room.

I wasn’t diagnosed as dyslexic until universitywood-cube-473703_1920. I spent most of my school days in fear of mispronouncing new vocabulary (I still do), struggling to read aloud (I still do), or misspelling common words (I still do).

While I was in school, there was an incentive to learn how to write properly. They would take off up to 20% on tests, in any field (math, French, etc.), if you made spelling or grammar mistakes. The problem my dyslexia is worst when I’m stressed, so I gave up trying after a while and told myself that if I had 80% it equalled 100% and I have straight 80% most of the time. Imagine how well I could have done if someone had understood that I had dyslexia and knew the tools to help me deal with it?


School Education – The Power of Positive

I strongly believe that regular elementary schools should be more like specialised schools for children with learning disabilities. Their system is the base of positive touch points instead of negative ones. Let me explain with two example from my own experience:

I have two children who struggle with dyslexia and anxiety in my household, both have had a different school path due to the severity of the disabilities being different.

My child goes to regular elementary school. She struggles with Dyslexia and Anxiety, but not enough to warrant going to a special school or class. Her class like most, function on a consequence basis. You receive a consequence for all things you forgot, didn’t get a good grade on, etc. My daughter lives in constant anxiety and fear of getting punished at school. She feels like she can’t get anything right no matter how much she tries.

My stepson goes to a special elementary school for children with learning disabilities. He has Dyslexia.education-548105_1920 The school functions on a reward basis for positive touch points. Students are rewarded for good behaviour, homework was done, good grades, etc. My stepson doesn’t fear to go to school. He makes more efforts to get things right, but no longer spirals when he has a bad day. There is always a place for improvement.

It is in my opinion as mother and stepmother that regular schools should model themselves on the reward system used by special needs schools. I strongly believe that they would get a better response from students and maybe, just maybe lower the drop out numbers. I have brought this up with my daughter’s teacher but has usual, I get the ‘this is the way it’s done. I can’t change the rules’. Way to think outside the box. Way to care about teaching.

What do you think?

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