By Phoebe K
Learning to live with my dyslexia has been a long journey and I have learned a lot about myself as a student as well as a person along the way. When my mother first learned that I would have more difficulty learning how to spell than my siblings, she tried to help me learn by having me write out the most common words in the English language every day, making me rewrite each one that I misspelled ten times.
It didn’t take long to find that this approach was not having the desired effect as I only scored in the sixth percentile for spelling that year in our annual standardized tests.
A few years later, a new approach was introduced to my mother as a possibility for helping me learn this all-important skill of spelling. A special education teacher at a school that I attended part time as a home-schooler suggested that my mother’s approach was overwhelming me and hindering my ability to learn rather than assisting my development.
She advised that I should be shown my mistakes and made to find the corrections for a few of them, thus lowering the stress level while still forcing me to learn. The effect of this change was immediate and very positive as I received an average score on my spelling for the first time on that year’s standardized test.
Through this experience and others, I have reached a new understanding not only of the written language, but also of my own personal learning style. I have discovered that I learn best through creating pictures, both in my mind and on paper, as my mind only seems to create images and not words. This discovery and my use of it has helped me already to receive one of the highest grades in my college anatomy class, as I was able to create an almost complete skeletal system on a handful of easy to study flashcards. I also learned that I could create a realistic 3D image in my mind with very little effort and used this many times to learn material in both my anatomy and chemistry classes.
My ultimate goal is to enter the field of forensics in a few years and I believe that, as I continue to learn how to use my dyslexia as a helpful tool rather than fighting it like an obstacle, I will continue learning daily as I work with my hands and my mind.
I am convinced that, because dyslexia has been labeled as a learning disability, many dyslexics feel defeated before ever having the chance to realize their full potential, but I have seen that it is, in fact, a gift to those who will learn how to use it and I will continue to grow as a student, not only in a classroom but also in everyday life, as I continue to learn more about my dyslexia and how it affects me and my ability to learn.
This essay was submitted for our twice annual dyslexia scholarship award.