The easy life of a dyslexic data scientist

Life is easy, almost way too easy, at least it feels that way to a 25 year old dyslexic who has survived a nightmare called school.

If you have ever read about a dyslexic child, or if you, yourself are dyslexic, you will know it almost always starts the same way, life is beautiful , you learn how to walk, identify objects. Then you move to kindergarten with so many other kids your age to play with, life looks surreal and you learn your A,B and Cs.

Then you move to primary school(class one) and all hell breaks lose. They introduce English language and English spelling (oh believe me how much I hate that word to my core ) Hindi language and Hindi spelling (god another nightmare !! ) and Mathematics. Well, now is a good time to tell what dyslexia is. A quick google search returns this — “a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.” In other words, “you are f****d, and you are going to do poorly(poorly is an understatement) in all the subjects that we just introduced in our educational system,good luck, bi***”

I still remember my 6 year old self going to school, in yellow half sleeve shirt, blue half pants and formal shoes (as if the embarrassment of being the lowest performer wasn't enough).

As the years passed and we moved from class 1 to class 7. I realized something was wrong. Something wasn't adding up.When everyone in the class is better than you and do things like “reading for fun” you start having self doubt. And after being told over and over again by all my teachers that I need to work harder, being punished, beaten with a wooden stick(hitting children was allowed in schools) for not finishing my homework, or made to stand outside the class, it wasn't so difficult to come to the conclusion that I was stupid(I got to know I was dyslexic only after college). By class 7 when other kids were aspiring to become doctors, engineers and astronauts, I was hoping that I can maybe work in a small shop(I thought I will get free stuff if I worked in a shop). I still remember a teacher telling my mom during a parents meet that “He won’t make it through school(I am pretty sure she wanted to say ‘life’)”.In the words of Eminem “No wonder I had to unlearn everything my brain was taught.”

But there were two women who always confused me by always believing in me,even though I didn’t. My mom and my grandmother, and that’s what made all the difference. They literally saved my life. According to one study 70–80% of kids arrested under juvenile criminal case have dyslexia.(Obviously they did allot more than just believing in me, but that will take up an entire post)

Then in 7th grade I was introduced to this beautiful language called Java. This language only had a few words with easy spelling, it came with a compiler which,for me, acted more like a spell checker than a compiler. And the stories in it were not already written but had to be written with the help of context and logic(words that has helped many dyslexics survive).

One day, while I was still struggling to remember the spelling of “chlorine” for my chemistry class a friend told me that they wont look at spellings for science subjects while evaluating our papers. I almost couldn't believe my ears. It was almost like a long curse was slowly getting lifted.

Then finally in 10th grade I was able to get a 98% in computers followed by maths and science both also in 90% and obviously just making the cut in Hindi and English literature and language proving once and for all I wasn’t “stupid”. But then, what was I ?(I had stopped caring by then)

Couple of years after passing 10th. I finished college with an Undergraduate in computer science(obviously) and continued with a job in data science. I am also teaching data science as a part time faculty at one of the Managements colleges in India(which is among the top 4 offering this program in data science in India).

As I continue my journey from one word I can’t spell(undergraduate, decision scientist, faculty) to another. I continue to make spelling mistakes, read at the speed of a 5th grader and write in a “not legit way”(word used by one of my college professes, still makes me laugh). But with spell checks in almost every application, chrome extinctions to correct my grammar mistakes and read-out-loud mobile applications allowing me to finally “read for fun” life feels easy, almost way too easy, at least it feels that way to a 25 year old dyslexic who has survived a nightmare called school.