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TOPIC: Living with dyslexia

Living with dyslexia 8 years 2 weeks ago #82

  • Tia
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I am 66 years old and ever since I was a child, I have never been able to spell or read out loud. While in elementary school in England, I was placed in a special needs class for a week and felt like I was the smartest kid in the class. Clearly, I did not belong there and was returned to mainstream.
By the time I was in HS, the consensus was that I must be stupid, and frankly, I thought they were right. Finally, while living in Canada, I underwent a comprehensive IQ test, and the reverse was proven. OMG I'm not stupid! In fact, I'm very smart! These results confounded my teachers who then decided that since I am of Greek origin perhaps I needed to be in a reading remedial class--this too, did not work!
When my husband and I moved to the States, I decided to pursue a theatre degree. I did well in my acting classes, but auditions meant reading out loud. I was sent to take a speed reading class. From there I was sent to see a psychologist specializing in disabilities--I was finally diagnosed as having dyslexia at 30 years of age.
I now have five degrees and I got them by working not twice as hard as everyone else, but four times as hard. In the US some progress has been made in handling dyslexic students. I could now have extra time on my exams and while University guidelines allowed double time, most teachers begrudgingly allowed me an extra 10 or 20 minutes and thought that they were doing me a great favor. What teachers don't know about disabilities could fill a library. However, I was lucky to have had a wonderful teacher in HS who believed in me and saw past the bad spelling and forced me to apply for university--I still believed I was not smart enough. The rest is history.
It's been an uphill battle all my life. The most damaging aspect has not been my disability, but the destruction of my self esteem. Perhaps if I had been diagnosed earlier, the damage would not have been so great. Since my disability is not visible, people find it hard to believe me or to understand it.
I'm still dyslexic, I'm just not so embarrassed about it anymore. Thank goodness for computers and spellcheck, but even so, I am constantly asking my husband, "Honey, how do you spell........"
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Living with dyslexia 8 years 5 days ago #83

  • Alsa
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I can share a similar experience. I suffered with dyslexia too and was reproach by my teachers of being a low performer, not paying attention and not making any effort to progress with writing, spelling and calculus. I was dismissed and even sometime slapped on the head, which was still tolerated back in the 60s, for underperforming in areas where I was in fact handicapped by dyslexia.

Fortunately my mother who was worried about my difficulties had me diagnosed at the age of 14th and found tutors to help me. This helped me a lot understand that I should not feel guilty for my then poor results and gave me methods to cope with the issues. These included re-reading written texts backwards so that I could identify spelling mistakes that I would not have noticed re-reading in the same order I had first wrote them. Also they taught me how to identify what was essential in a math course, what was absolutely necessary to understand and memorize to move ahead.

This has been very helpful to the point I succeeded in higher education having both engineering and business degrees. Also I was able myself to tutor many students using anti-dyslexia methods to help just normal student cope with their studies. I can count myself as lucky to have been understood soon enough to be helped.

You never really cure from dyslexia but what counts is being able to cope with it and being understood. One of my math teachers in my engineering school told me once “you are a pain to read but it is OK as this is a math course and not a calligraphy course”. This was a generous, encouraging and understanding statement indeed.
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Our Mission

-Share our stories
---Obstacles we faced
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---What we learned
---What we need
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    Our story

Catherine Gogel, Publisher

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