The Mighty Logo

10 Things Growing Up With Dyslexia Taught Me

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

1) You’re not “stupid”: For a long time, I thought I was “stupid.” No matter how much I learned and how well I could read or speak, I believed it. By second grade I had been tested and told I had what I am told is called core dyslexia — reading, writing, verbal, auditory and numeric. By fourth grade, I was in full-time special ed classes. And that was the way it was for the next 3 and a half to 4 years.

2) People often don’t understand: People who aren’t dyslexic can never fully understand how reading one book every few months is an achievement.

3) You can learn anything: Once you figure out how your dyslexia works and how you best learn, I believe there is nothing you can’t achieve.

4) Some of the greatest minds in history could have been dyslexic: Dyslexia does not mean someone has a low IQ. And many famous people in history are or are believed to have been dyslexic. Our learning difference doesn’t have to limit us — once we understand that we are just wired differently, a whole new world opens up to us.

5) I can do the impossible: This one is hard to swallow, but as an adult, I recently got retested. I had a doctor look me right in the eyes and say “The fact you can read is a miracle, and no test will ever accurately show your true IQ.” I scored on paper a 101. But “I can’t” is a state of mind that I believe will hold you back. When you start to find ways to say “I can,” the world starts opening up to you.

6) Some people are jerks: This one is the most frustrating fact of all. Some people will always see me as lacking, no matter how far I come with my learning difference. When I struggle with a word and need someone to tell me what it is, they may see me as lazy and/or “stupid.” But that is on them, not me.

7) I can’t always do things like everyone else: Some things I can do like everyone else; others, I can’t. I use to come down on myself because I couldn’t do things like most people. But I am really good at other things most people struggle with. It comes down to accepting myself as I am, and seeing I am not “stupid” because of my difference, I am just different and that is OK.

8) Don’t see the problem for the problem, see the problem for the solution: My dad taught me this one. But in my experience, dyslexic people as a whole are really good at thinking outside the box when solving problems. Our minds focus on how to fix an issue, not dwelling on the problem. I believe a lot of this is a defense mechanism from trying to compensate for how we are wired and dealing with people who don’t understand the differences.

9) Books are amazing: My mom drove this one home. She used to read to me growing up, but there was this one part of one of my favorite books she wouldn’t read to me. I would beg and beg until finally she said “You want to know what happens? Read it yourself.” So I asked for “Hooked on Phonics” when I was in eighth grade. I got it for Christmas that year. By the time I went back to school after the break, I had gone from a fourth-grade reading level to a 10th-grade level. Yes, I still struggle with my dyslexia and I have to hyper-focus on whatever book I am reading. But I learned the love of the written word for myself because of my mom.

10) Just because you can’t spell, it doesn’t mean you can’t write: I am not the best speller and my grammar usually leaves people with a headache, but I am a good writer and have a lot of stories to share. The only person who has ever put limits on me is myself because I didn’t understand how to move forward with my learning difference.

I am a curious person by nature and this has worked in my favor in most ways. I have also been blessed. Even when it seemed like someone was working against me, it made me want to work harder to prove I could do it. Especially when that person was me. I have also had some very enthusiastic fans in my corner. Some are still with me; some have gone to the other side. A large part of why I can’t give up now is because of the faith those who have passed on put in me.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by Fotopitu.

Originally published: July 12, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home