Growing up dyslexic

It’s not so bad

I was a lucky kid growing up. I had a mom who fought for me when I began struggling with reading in school.

I was diagnosed as dyslexic in the third grade. That is when I started struggling with things like keeping up with reading at grade level and memorizing my multiplication tables.

I don’t see letters backwards like many people say dyslexics do. I did and do often write letters backward. What is interesting is that my preschool and kindergarten teachers noticed this and noted that if I “concentrated” I would get the letters right. My brain fills in things when I am reading. I also used one eye at a time when reading. So, when I would read across the page I would start on one line and then finish another. Books are meant to be read pretty much in order not jumping from line to line.

Being raised by a voracious reader I loved books even as a struggling reader I loved having books around. I loved the stories I read a lot. By the time I got to high school I had all but fully adapted to my dyslexia. Then I began leveraging it for my advantage.

I manipulated my counselors and my teachers to get into the classes that would smooth my effort through school. I had friends who believed I could compete in their AP classes with them but I never once challenged myself to do so. But I did rise to the occasion when I was Math assisting. The teachers would teach me the lesson when they had to leave early and, while there was a sub in the room, they left me to teach the lesson. I always stepped up when they asked, yet never stepped up for myself then.

College took me a long time but I am proud of the grades I earned and that I stepped up for myself. I truly love learning.

I still don’t read quickly to this day and when reading for comprehension, it takes me easily twice to three times as long as others to read dry non-fiction. But when I do, just stand back. It sticks. It sticks so well that I can often remember what side of the page I read the information and, while not verbatim, I can provide the context of the page.

So, being dyslexic is something about me but it doesn’t define me. It is something that slows me down in some ways, but it does help me keep information in place when I get it in there.

It is also fun sometimes.

When I am reading things aloud my brain will sometimes rewrite the words and totally change the context of the sentence. When reading a sentence about a cow and I read crow instead, the context of getting milk suddenly seems much more fraught with peril.


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