Literacy Moment

How I Overcame One of the Biggest Challenges in My Life

Ever since I can remember it has always been hard for me to read and write. I stuck out like a sore thumb in first grade mixing letters up getting things backward having a very difficult time with reading, writing, grammar, and spelling. This was very apparent to my teacher, so she told my parents to get me checked out for any learning disabilities. It turned out that the test came back positive for dyslexia. As a kid I had no idea what was happening I was just being a good kid and listening to the adults.

Now came 2nd grade. When my parents found out that I had a disability they wanted to put me into special classes during school so I could improve my reading and writing abilities. When I was younger I really didn’t mind but as I got older I started to hate the extra treatment. I was in these classes from second grade to eighth grade. Till about fourth or fifth grade I really did not like being treated different. I felt as if I was being alienated from the other kids in my grade, almost if the teachers were building a wall between my friends and me. This class took me away from my peers and really separated me from them. For example, eighth grade we, as students, were supposed to take another language, either Spanish or French. Since I was in that class and needed more work on the English language I was not allowed to take another language. I remember it was kind of embarrassing when my classmates would ask me “what language are you taking?” because I would have to respond with “I’m not taking another language”. Then by me saying “I’m not taking another language” I would have to explain why I wasn’t taking another language like the rest of the kids in my grade. Another example, that reinforced the separation between me and the other students was in second grade to about fifth grade I would have a helper teacher follow me around in my other classes. I remember she would sit behind me and watch over me the entire time. When ever I would write a paper she would come over after I was done and scribble all over it in black pen and make me rewrite it after she was done correcting it. This was the most frustrating thing ever, I remember the flush of anger that would come over me every time she would take that pen out ready to make me write that paper all over again. This aid did not even seem that she was helping she wouldn’t even go over the paper that she corrected with me. It was almost like she would correct it and throw it at me and tell me to write it again. Being a young kid in 4th grade I was fed up with all this so, as any kid would do I went home to my parents and through a temper tantrum. The temper tantrum was very childish by itself but it brought to my parents attention my feelings on how I feel about this special class. They wondered if it was helping me or hurting me.

When my parents started thinking that this special class may not be helping they looked into an outside institute not related to the school system, it was called the Masons. This was the turning point. My parents got me into the institute. The program that I was taking was specific for rehabilitating kids that have learning disabilities so it was perfect. I would have class every Tuesday and Thursday after school. I remember walking in for the first time I was scared at first but I warmed up really fast because of how inviting and nice everyone was. They took me on a long tour of the building that day allowing me to meet everyone and see where everything is in the building. I could tell they were trying to make the learning environment feel more comfortable to me so next time, they could get right to a lesson. When my first lesson rolled around I was feeling way better about going to the masons building I was a little nervous but I went anyway. Then my teacher came out into the waiting room she introduced herself and shook my hand. To be completely honest with you I do not remember how this woman looked nor do I remember what her name was but what I do remember is how she made me feel respected. For example, every time I would come into for a lesson, before we would start she would shake my hand and ask me how my day went and then we would start. This was a very small gesture but in the grand scheme of things it meant a lot for a young kid like me.

The lessons that the masons taught were very different compared to the special classes that I took in elementary school and middle school. The classes that the masons provided were very hands on learning. We would do all types of activities like spelling on chalk boards to using blocks for spelling and reading related activities. Personally I’m a hands-on learner and the special classes at school that I was thrown into was the opposite of hands-on learning. The special classes at school felt as if the teachers were talking at us well we were sitting there doing nothing. Just imagine someone telling you to get better at something and legitimately thinking you will some how get better. That was the special class at school, which I happened to get out of when I went got into The Masons program. So getting the opportunity to go to The Masons made me so happy.

Going to The Masons was a very important step in my life. I remember dealing with my dyslexia before going to The Masons reading and writing was nearly impossible. After graduating from The Masons in 7th grade, I still had trouble reading and writing. However, the fact of the matter is The Masons gave me a sense of confidence with reading and writing that I didn’t have prior to going there. This confidence gave me the ability to keep at reading and writing to kick it in the butt, allowing me to learn some tricks myself to help me during the process of reading and writing.