We have known each other all of my life, but no one else knew that you were my shadow until elementary school. In third grade, my mom and dad found out that you held me back in class and tried to fix the problems you caused. During the school day, Mrs. Ietto pulled me out of class for tutoring. We would work and work and work endlessly, trying all we could to improve my reading and writing abilities. We used flashcards, color-coded letter tiles, and whiteboards. Sometimes, it worked. My spelling and reading skills increased, but that did not stop the mistakes from happening.
With you by my side, both English and math became my enemies as school continued to increase in difficulty. You mixed up lowercase b’s, d’s, p’s, and q’s. In math, plus-signs and minus-signs looked practically the same. Left and right meant absolutely nothing to me – holding up both hands and seeing which one makes an ‘L’ does nothing for a person who sees letters that are shuffled and backwards. The sounds of words and their spellings also did not translate well in my mind because of you. For a fourth grade Mother’s Day writing assignment, I tried to spell out the word ‘specific’ but spelled it as ‘pacific’ because they both seemed the same to me. I struggled because of you, but my school eventually thought that I had beaten you.
Fifth grade became my last year of tutoring before I continued to learn new grammar rules and spelling words without Mrs. Letto sitting by my side. Fifth and sixth grade turned out to be not too much of a struggle. Of course, that does not mean problems were nonexistent; they were just better than before. In sixth grade, I made it into the enrichment math program, and I worked diligently that year to do well. You continued to hold me back when I entered seventh grade.
Because I was going from a private school to a public school, I had to take placement tests for reading and math. I could be placed in a high-leveled reading class or not take a reading class at all (either of which I was hoping for); however, no such luck came to me. Placed in a lower reading class, I was heartbroken. I thought that I had overcome your difficulties, only to be proven wrong.
As the years passed, I continued to try to outrace you and to press on with my battle against you. Too often my struggles resulted in failure. When entering high school, I realized my desire to learn multiple languages, and I became aware of the impact you have on doing so. You make it basically impossible. Pronouncing words properly, comprehending reading passages, and applying grammar rules became a source of my frustration and struggle while studying German. You have created quite a blockade from accomplishing my dreams. Doch , I will continue to fight.
Despite the attempts I have made to improve and defeat you, I still feel your influence in my daily life. I know not where to put commas in sentences. Every time I type, I am guaranteed to hit the backspace key over and over again. Without spell check, my writing would be incomprehensible. Even now, I still cannot differentiate my left from my right. Once in a while, I even forget how to spell the simplest of words. You permeate every aspect of my life, Dyslexia, but I will not give up. I am determined to beat you into dust and win this lifelong war.
This essay was contributed by Sarah K. for our Dyslexia/Auditory Processing Disorder Scholarship Fall Semester 2019. It was rated Highly Commended, due to its creativity and heartfelt descriptions of the daily trials of living with dyslexia.