These three key lessons can help you with dyslexia.

Dyslexia is described as a difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols. Each year, more than 3 million people are diagnosed with the learning disorder.

Similar to many parents, Sadie’s mom tried to introduce her daughter to the joys of reading at a young age. She would place Sadie on her lap and take out a picture book, letting her flip through the pages. However, anytime Sadie’s mom told her to practice reading the words, the child would avoid the request by trying to distract her mother.

Sadie’s aversion to reading continued throughout elementary school. During rug time, she hid a picture book beneath her chapter book, so she didn’t have to struggle with complex words.

“I noticed that other people were able to do something I wasn’t able to do.,” explained Sadie. “But as a child, it’s easy to pretend a problem is invisible.”

Eventually, her mom decided to get her tested for dyslexia. This process involved numerous weekend screenings and evaluations. Although it was a necessary procedure, Sadie found it hard to sit still for long periods of time, and would easily get frustrated.

To help Sadie confront her dyslexia, she was sent to the learning center in her elementary school. While other students read in the classroom, Sadie would be brought to a room down the hall to receive one-on-one attention. In college, Sadie registered with Disability Services so that she can receive extra time on exams.

“The accommodations for my Dyslexia are extremely helpful, but it’s hard not to feel embarrassed when you are the only student taking a test outside the classroom,” said Sadie.

Growing up with the learning disorder was difficult at times, but Sadie has learned how to continue her education without dyslexia interfering with her ability to succeed. Through her personal experience with dyslexia, she learned three key lessons.

1. Dyslexia does not indicate a lack of intelligence

Many people, sometimes completely unknowing of Sadie’s condition, a comment that dyslexia is a sign of stupidity. Even if someone is joking, a comment like this can be detrimental to a person’s confidence.

“During a work shift, a girl remarked that her ‘Dyslexia was showing.’ At first, I was excited because I love meeting people that I can relate to,” explained Sadie. “When I asked about her experience, she began to laugh. She explained that she didn’t actually have Dyslexia, she was just using the phrase to explain that she had a dumb moment.”

Dyslexia does not have any correlation with overall intelligence. If one area of the mind is struggling, the brain will overcompensate in another region. For instance, many people with dyslexia have incredible spatial memory.

2. Mentorship can help children accept their disability

Sadie believes that peer acceptance, as well as consistent mentorship, would do wonders for a child’s confidence. Sadie proposed that children with dyslexia are assigned a mentor only a few years older than themselves. This mentor would also have dyslexia and could share their personal experiences with the child.

“At first I was embarrassed to go to the reading center until another girl named Emily took me under her wing. Oftentimes, we would come back with reward toys that Emily would show off to our classmates. Her positive attitude made the class accepting of the disorder, instead of making us feel ashamed of being different.”

Sadie firmly believes that if all children had a mentor like Emily, people with dyslexia would learn to embrace the diagnosis much earlier in development

3. Dyslexia does not inhibit success

Even now, Sadie occasionally worries that dyslexia will harm her chances of getting certain jobs outside of college. However, she does not let the reading disorder will not stop her from pursuing aspirations. Sadie has a background in Neuroscience and can visualize the various parts of the brain at impressive speed. She works extremely well with children and is considering a career with City Year after she completes undergrad.

“My mom once bought me a book that highlighted the success stories of several people with dyslexia. These people were open about their reading disorder, but they still went on to do amazing things,” said Sadie. “Sure, I don’t feel confident all the time, but learning from the stories of others has shown me that I can’t let dyslexia stop me from doing what I love.”

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Adrienne Gagne attains happiness by continuously exploring uncharted territory. Her ultimate goal is to encourage new directions of thinking, not to sway others’ opinions to strictly align with her own....

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