Our perception can play tricks.


I drove on Fall Creek Parkway twice a day for ten years passing both ways under a railroad bridge that to me bore an unusual sign. Each time I read it I said to myself, “that is an unusual name”. I had this thought because I was reading a sign that spelled MONON and was processing the word as MORON and thought “why such a name on a railroad bridge.”

Why would a presumably normal and educated person make this mistake?

The first and most obvious reason is that this “mistake” is a form of dyslexia where a person fails to register a letter or letters properly and comes up with an acceptable alternative. It was easy in this case because Monon is not a name that means anything unless you are familiar with the town Monon, Indiana that played a role in naming the railroad. Even though MORON makes no sense, there is no other word in this sign to help out. If RAILROAD had appeared on the sign it might have demanded more thought on the part of the observer.

In another example, earlier in college, while working construction, I referred to the “Koenig” truck pronouncing it “Ko’ ing”. My coworkers didn’t understand what I was talking about. I was reading a sign on a ready mix concrete truck that was spelled Koenig and properly pronounced K’ nig and saying KO’ ing because I transposed the “n”.

This and similar events stimulated my interest in dyslexia and I later dedicated time and effort in the study of this condition. Based on our clinical studies we concluded there is no relationship between this condition and any eye function that we measured and prior determination by several investigators that dyslexia is not caused by a specific neurologic defect or impaired intelligence is accurate and supportable.

If a young person appears to have this condition, seek educational based help to assist the student in working “around” the problem. Then stress reading and writing while taking advantage of any special skills a person might possess. This condition is not “the end of the line” but rather “a bump in the road”.


Contributed by: Gene Helveston

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