Mac Tip for the Dyslexia

You will find spelling errors in this blog post. This is deliberate as I want to show the limitations of the software I used to combat my Dyslexia and ADHD. (And gave the editor the day off ) I have ADHD and Dyslexia. This blog post will talk a little about what I am going through and some of the Mac tools I use to try to mitigate the damage.

Dyslexia and ADHD my old friends

I am going to have a rant.. you can skip this part if you don’t want to hear about someone’s issues for being mistaken for being unintelligent. But if you do suffer from ADHD and Dyslexia you might relate with every word.

Most of the time the only reason why I am spelling anything correctly is due to muscle memory in typing or I have spell check running overtime. It has always been an uphill battle. At times I even feel like it has been a lost cause.

BUT!!!! this is not to say that I’m not intelligent as I have taught myself to speak basic Japanese, I program in Bash and Python and when I am bored I study malware or ancient history. My wife often mistakes me programming in to be working after hours when actually I’m relxing. (Last paragraph is hard to write as my confadence in these areas involving my intelegence has been worn very thin)

I have been aware of my Dyslexia all my life, however, ADHD was a recent diagnosis at the age of 47. Oh, what I could have achieved If I had that formal diagnoses at age 20 or even 30. Hell, I would have been happy to know about this at age 45. my life would have been different.

Blind to Spelling Errors

I can’t see them. My brain takes the letters and the context of the sentence and overwrites them. I could read a whole novel riddled with spelling errors and never notice. (In small chunks due to the reading issues that come with ADHD see below ) Do you know those memes where there is a misspelling as part of the punchline? I don’t get those and my wife has to explain them to me. Or how when talking to another adult when a Dog or a child is around and you do not want them to understand wait is said and you spell out “W.. A…L…K” or “I…C…E…C..R…E….A….M”. Yeah, I’m lost after the third letter.

What is worse if I’m doing anything that is creative like a painting that just happens to have text … my brain short circuits and everything I mean everything even my own name looks misspelled. (Now Imagine the number of times someone would try to hire me to paint their windows for a business)

Reading issues

Part of my problem and ADHD and Dyslexia is that Paragraphs all jumble together. As a tech who spends a lot of time studying you can imagine how this can be a problem. I often find that I will start reading a page and then my brain goes on a tangent while my eyes are still going through the motions of reading every word. Sometimes this is great as a form of multi-tasking as both processes keep running. but most of the time it derails resulting in not knowing the details of the paragraph, then reading it again for the third time.

Sometimes I will skim an entire page an get a general idea of what is about then focus on the important info. That happens more often then I would like to admit.

Forgotten Passwords

I can’t spell .. Passwords are a nightmare. You think you hate passwords. I HATE PASSWORDS. In my line of work, I need to have a different password for every system that will change often.

But how do you use tech to get past Dyslexia?

Lucky for me there are all kinds of tools on a Mac that makes my life easier. Though to be totally honest it only reduces the damage does not stop it entirely.

Spell check and Grammar

One of the bigger problems with spelling and grammar on any computer or iPhone is autocorrect. Most of the time the software is not smart enough to catch my mistakes I will often type something that is close to the wrong word. The Autocorrect will fix the issue resulting in an invisible error that makes me look like a fool.

I have been using Grammarly on my Android Phone and Macs for some time. However, the problem I have with that is that it does not connect with all the software that I use. (See Dangers below) . It works fine in a browser and most websites however word documents are invisible to Grammarly and I have to cut and paste my documents into their online document editor (Not a fan of online editors of any kind for internal documents for security reasons regardless of how good the company is )

Spell check tips!

Finish the paragraph don’t correct as you go.

Resist the urge to correct the misspellings as you go. This is very inefficient. It is actually faster to write the whole paragraph and come back to fix the mistakes than it is to stop and rewrite a mistake. And if you have ADHD it does lead to the possibility of getting off track. I have also noted with software like Grammarly it does need context to choose the correct word. So the act of going back and retyping while the sentence is being written does open you up to the opportunity for autocorrecting to the wrong word.

Remember to add unique words to the dictionary

As someone who is writing a science fiction comic book and podcast, there are a lot of words that are not found in the English dictionary. Make sure you add those words (After verifying that that is the correct spelling ) into the dictionary. This will save you time later.

I have found that if you create a document in MS Word or Apple’s Pages of the proper spellings of those created words so you can refer back to them to check. Also if for some reason Grammarly goes out of business or someone develops better software you can use this document to move those words to the new platform.

Questionable words tap with three finders

On a Mac, if there is a word that you are not sure if it has been autocorrected into the wrong word. Highlight the text and tap the touchpad with three fingers. This will give you a definition of the word. By the way, this also works while you are on the web and find a new word. I have found this works in Safari, Chrome, Pages, and most PDFs. You can find these settings under Apple > System Preferences > Trackpad

Dyslexia tips for OSX users.

Reading Tips

I’m always attempting to consume information. However, reading is not my strong point due to Dyslexia and ADHD. ( I do not have problems with Ancient text like Sun Tsu’s Art of War or Hagakure, because they are written in small bite-size pieces. ). Any information that is more than a few paragraphs long become jumbled. So I have learned to use the Text to speech feature on every Mac.

The voices are comical and sound more like a 70s TV robot vs Jarvis in Iron Man’s suit. But they will do the job. They are also monotone and tend to not convey emotion very well. (Not a problem with Techincal manuals)

Activate Text to Speech on a Mac to solve Dyslexia errors

You can activate this by clicking on the Apple > System Preferences > Accessibility >Speech. There you will find a whole bunch of different voices. Some are just silly others can be very useful. Make sure that Speech is enabled. You may have to test the different voices for the one that best suits you. Also note some of the voices needs to be downloaded. However Victora the default works fine (Kinds sounds like Siri)

NOTE: There is also Voiceover settings. this is different from text to speech. (It is for the vision impaired) I recommend keeping that off.

Once the speech is enabled and you find a voice that you like highlight any text in almost any document and right-click… and option to use speech > Start speaking will appear. Basically, anything becomes an audiobook.

Also, note to you that speak more than one language. I will use this to read Japanese blogs. I can speak Basic Japanese and read most Hiragana but my Katakana is really bad. (And if you have ever read a Japanese blog it will switch between Hiragana and katakana often) This feature makes it so I can hear the text and sometimes understand what was written. It does not translate but that is a whole different blog post.

Use the Zoom feature to avoid getting lost

IF you are one of those people who uses a paper bookmark to underline the sentence you are on. Try using the Zoom feature in Safari. This is a quick tap on the safari webpage with two finders. This will zoom the page focusing on the paragraph at hand. IT is not perfect but a lot of people have mentioned this tip to me. (Also helps If I can find my glasses ….again )

Writing tips

For the most part, Grammarly works fine for this. but did you know that macs have built-in dictation software? Double-tap the “Fn” key to activate. (If that does not work enable the software in Apple > System Preferences> Accesislbilty > Dictation )

It does take a little practice to use. I do recommend that if you go to use this feature practice when it is not some kind of deadline. Also important to make sure you have the language set for your accent. For me, it is not set up for US English and it gets confused.

I do not use the feature often. So there are errors.

  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Pause often allowing the dictation software to catch up.
  • Get to know the commands in the settings.
  • No music or background noise.

Open Dyslexic font

Yes, there is a font that is easier for us to read and it is called OpenDyslexic. I do find that in many cases this software is easier to read. Many of my longer documents are in this font. Unfortunately, because it looks like comic sans. it may not be appreciated in business settings. (It is allowed in my business because I am the boss ..Deal with it)

The font is free to use and easy to install. Download the font, open the zip file and click on “Add font in the top of the window”

Pitfalls of Dyslexic software.

Grammarly requires an internet connection.

This can be an issue if you are out in the bush or on the train. Also because it is a browser extension it does not have access to other applications. Some online applications that are more secure will actually block Grammarly from working. (Don’t blame them just you need to find a workaround )

Grammarly does not check WordPress pages till you are done with the paragraph.

This one gets me all the time. if you are using WordPress. Grammarly waits to check the paragraph till after you click away from the block then come back to edit. The problem with this is that there can be a lot of mistakes that you do not see if you are in a writing groove. I try to remember to check each paragraph before posting.

SpellCheck only checks if the word is spelled correctly not if you used the right word.

This is a big one for me. A perfect example is the “There, Their and They’re.” Though this is not one of my personal issues I know this is a common problem. Normal spellcheck looks at each word and thinks “Yep it is in the dictionary” and moves on without considering the context.

Not all Applications have spell check

Creative Software like GIMP And KRITA do not have spell check at all. The problem with this is that recently I was working on a blog post and created a title with a spelling error and…I posted it all over social media because that annoying little red line never showed up at all giving me a false sense of security and a bit of ridicule from Facebook.

No software is foolproof when it comes to Dyslexia.

I deliberately did not have my wife edit this post. IF you do find spelling or grammatical errors in this post it is because the software did not catch it.

Text to speech READs EVERYTHING like it or not.

That is the problem! So a PDF will read copyright info on every page even though I do not want it to. The ads on the side of the webpage …guess what it reads that too. So it is something that you have to put up with if you are going to use text to speech on webpages or PDFs. and honestly, it is a little annoying.

Also getting it to STOP reading is not as easy as I would like. So when the phone rings it is panic time!!! trying to find mute. The software also runs through the selected text like a bull in a china shop! It does not pause!

Finding where you left off if you get interrupted is a pain. Honestly, most VCRs in the 80s were easier to use when it comes to rewinding. But it is better than nothing.

You are not stupid … just need a bit of help

I fight with this one every day. The constant ridicule from folks that focus on the fact that there is a spelling error and claim intellectual superiority when honestly they missed the point of a paragraph because two letters are out of place. When your boss doubts your credibility as a tech because your case notes have an error when you know his password is “Pas$word1” and he keeps getting his computer infected with viruses.

People are harsh and cruel. but understand we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Do not allow the cruelty of others to embarrass you into not doing what you need or love.

I was able to Fool Apple and Intel into hiring me even though I did not have a high school diploma. They did not regret their oversight as I’m an award-winning Apple support tech. (I suspect that is because I look at problems differently ) Dyslexic

I have discovered to not hide my Dyslexia but to set the expectations that I have ADHD and Dyslexia and it takes me a little longer and a little help to do some tasks.

IF I can do it, so can you!! Don’t be afraid of finding what works for you. Talking to your doctor about ADHD. And finding tools on a mac to help you get past Dyslexia will reduce a lot of stress.

Future Post will focus on ADHD and how I use my mac to keep on track.

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