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10 Things Growing Up With Dyslexia Taught Me

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.

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Thinkstock image by Fotopitu.

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