My Journey with Dyslexia
By Clara K.
I was born at a time when teachers did not believe in learning disabilities. Instead, they tended to have only three classifications for students: smart, average and dumb. I generally fell into the last category. I attribute this achievement to several lessons I learned while dealing with my dyslexia.
My first lesson I learned was that school can be lonely. From the beginning I had difficulties reading any text out loud and then explaining what it was about; and also spelling and math were difficult – too many symbols that I would constantly mix up. My teachers would make their opinion of my performance very clear and I ended up being ostracized for most of the time. None of the other students wanted to be seen with the ‘dumb’ kid.
The second lesson I learned was that there are more ways to solve a problem, one just has to keep looking. My father never gave up on me and would try various ways of teaching me to read, to understand what I have read, how to spell correctly and how to solve math problems. While he also did not know about dyslexia, he recognized that my brain worked differently and I need to be taught in other ways – regardless of how hard it would be.
Third, I learned is that while hard work is essential, it is not enough – one has to work hard persistently despite setbacks. During my school years I rarely saw any immediate improvements in my grades and ended up being disappointed and frustrated.
I am glad my father never gave up on me and continued pushing me. I applied this lesson in my first semester at college. In my first 2 months in Algebra I almost failed – not because I didn’t understand the material but because of my dyslexia. Despite this, I did not drop out of the class and my persistence paid off – I earned a B in the class, with an overall GPA of 3.75.
One lesson I am still learning in my journey with dyslexia is to reach for goals beyond my current skill level. I think I’m still afraid that my teachers end up being right and I am ‘dumb’. To prove to myself that I can succeed I take classes that interest me even if they are demanding. While this might threaten my GPA, I feel that the experiences gained are worth a less stellar GPA.
In the end, learning how to deal with dyslexia strongly influenced my career choice. I am majoring in psychology to work as a Child psychologist afterwards. My goal is that other children do not have to face the same problems as I did – school is already hard enough without having an undiagnosed learning disability.
This essay was submitted to our twice annual Living With Dyslexia Scholarship award.