I have probably reread and retyped this very sentence more times then anyone could count, and being an adult in my late twenties, I am finally learning to accept this of myself more and more. I have dyslexia, and what that means is, I and so many others have difficulty learning reading, writing, spelling and interpreting words, letters, and symbols. This dose dose not effect intelligence what so ever but for many years I felt left out from other individuals thinking that I was just not smart enough to even be in the same room with them. School was a struggle and growing up, my parents thought reading and writing was something I needed more practice on and that I would soon get better at eventually. My parents and I didn’t know what the true nature of my struggle was, nor did we even think it had a name! Even though writing is a subject I love and fear at the same time, I want to share my story of having dyslexia and share tips that I do or tell myself that help me through the day in hopes that it helps other out ther in the world.
I have memorizes of being slower than the other kids when it came to reading and writing in the classroom. I realized it when I paid attention to how fast the other kids were when it came to the subject and how they didn’t really need assistance with spelling or sounding out words. Throughout school I always seemed to be the last person to finish tests. Other times I couldn’t finish some of the tests because of all the rereading and changes I had to do. Reading took the longest of course. My first memory of feeling different from the others was in the 5th grade. My teacher who I will call Mrs. R had a system when she wanted the class to read sections of a book/lessons. “Popcorn Reading,” she called it, where a student is picked by her first to read two paragraphs and that student gets to choose the next person, and so on. I was not really chosen to read that much, I dreaded reading out load to the classroom anyway.
That day we were reading about history, and I remembered it being the end of the day because Mrs. R said, “ everyone stay seated when the bell rings, we are almost finished with our reading.” The horrible feeling that hit my stomach wasn’t because Mrs. R picked me to finish reading the two paragraphs. It was because when I was picked, some students sighed loudly in agony, others groaned in frustration, and the students next to me uttered foul language under thier breaths, exaggerating the hours it was going to take for me to finish. Mrs. R only added even more discouragement telling me words such as, “ focus,” and “ you should know that word by now.” I was destroyed after that experience. I felt awful about myself, I felt behind and left out from the other kids, I felt illiterate. Because of that experience I grew a hatred of reading in general for many years.
Writing was no different, however, instead of developing a hatred of writing I developed a fear instead. Same teacher Mrs. R wanted the class to switch essays that we worked on that day to help with spell checks. I remembered switching my essay with the A++ student not really thinking much to it. Not only did I hear him laughing at my essay, I saw him share my essay with his friends. I could hear all three boys mocking my spelling. “ This is so bad,” I heard, “can she not spell or something?” They continued. From then on I never wanted anyone to read my writing in fear of judgment and/or having anyone perceive me of having low intelligence.
I avoided reading as much as possible throughout Elementary, Jr. High and most of High School. I declared to myself at the time that it was just not my thing and something I’m not good at. Friends and volunteers helped me by showing teachers that they really wanted to be picked if the chance to read came up and as the grade titles went up the teachers focused on the eager readers. Writing was inevitable but a little easier to hide my struggle with the help of computers. Word document auto check was my best friend.
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school did I realize that I couldn't keep avoiding the need to read. I knew I had to face it one way or another as college opportunities were coming along. I remembered talking to my cousin Heather who has a huge impact in my life. She read to me a lot as a kid so I asked her to torture me in anyway she could to help me. Her words I would never forget, “ Sure! But I am dyslexic so I don’t know how helpful I will be.” When I asked her what dyslexic meant, it was like my whole world opened up. I no longer felt I was alone.
My cousin described all that I had struggled with for many years sharing her experiences with me only brought us that much closer as a family. She encouraged me to find books that actually brought an interest to me such as fiction novels or romance novels and etc. I kid you not when I thought books were just boring old stories that school makes everyone read. I stared away from the libraries and faked a reading face when a book was given to me, at the time, I had never heard of a place called Barnes & Noble. My cousin took me there and it was the most fun I ever had with books. Fiction, cook books, mangas, horror mysteries, everything was there to my choosing. It was absolutely wonderful. My cousin opened my eyes to the world of books and how fun it could be. For that I thank her greatly as well.
When I looked into it more as the years went by and becoming a college student, I read more into it and got properly check. What I struggle with on a daily bases, other than reading out loud, are mixing up letters when writing, often misspelling common words regularly, reading slower than most people and rereading the same sentence more then once due to lack of understanding or the information not sinking in, difficulty repeating what was heard or following more than one instruction at once, forgetting the names of common items, and a few other symptoms.
There many forms of dyslexia and most either have moderate to severe symptoms. Growing up, my family and I had no idea something like this even existed. Now with the help of technology and social media, the gap of these types of mysteries and questions that any individual may have are closes more and more. It definitely did for me. Thus I wanted to share helpful advice to anyone that also has dyslexia or may know someone who is dyslexic. These pieces of advice listed below has helped me with my dyslexia easing through class, work, and daily life. So I hope this helps my readers as well.
1. I encourage this greatly as my cousin did for me, always keep practicing reading. There are so many amazing books and stories out there so keep going, and keep learning. Go at your own pace. It is not the end of the world if you are chosen to read out loud or need to reread a sentence. You are doing a wonderful job!
2. Don’t be afraid to write. I not only wanted to write my story, I wanted to conquer my fear of sharing my writing to any readers out there. Practice at your own pace as well. And let us all give thanks to the help of our smart phones, auto correct, Internet, friends, family, etc. there is help all around us to help with successions.
3. Downloading Grammarly to your PC, desk top, tablet, etc will help writing essays and professional emails a lot easier. I am not sponsoring the app but I just have to share that Gammarly has saved me so many times at work when writing in a professional manner.
4. Be kind to yourself. Don’t be so harsh, know that are doing the best to your abilities. Some days dyslexia can really bring someone down. It can be hard when it comes to communication, reading writing and/or other aspects of life. Keep calm with your chin up and if needed, do not be afraid to ask for help and/or ask to repeat the question/conversation.
5. I struggled with this many years in school, so I want to proudly say, do not be embarrassed. I don’t know how many other will relate to this but I think it is extremely important to accept who you are. I am still learning to accept that I take time with some subjects and I am also learn that it is okay.
6. Stay motivated and positive and be thankful for the gifts that fellow Dyslexic individual have. Here is a video by Pete Luther who explain what those gifts may be.
There is no prescription or medication that can help with dyslexia as of now. But now of days there are so many programs, special tutors, even apps you can download that are exercises in the form of games that keeps the mind entertained. Schools do assist individuals with dyslexia when it comes to testing and further educational aspects. The world is becoming more and more aware and it is amazing on how far we have come along. I use to feel so terrible about myself and left out from others, but know no longer feel left out. I know my abilities, I know who I am, and I am accepting my dyslexia.