A Dyslexia Empowerment Story: Finding Hope in Community

We’re seemingly a very large family in that we all were born with dyslexia which absolutely is a learning disability and it affects so many of us.  At 69 years of age, I can still remember how traumatizing school was for me as a child. Reading out loud in the classroom was demoralizing. Spelling tests were always handled with a cheat sheet as it was the only way to survive.  Having a very high IQ paired with my incapability to read was confusing to my parents. I was made to feel dumb or worthless and felt so painfully alone. I knew that I was different, but in the 1950’s, nobody knew of this hereditary learning disability.  And so I was in the remedial reading group and my summers were spent with reading tutors. I also spent a lot of time being grounded because of my “inadequate natural resources” that were thought to be brought on by pure laziness. Far from it as I have always had a super high work ethic which has probably been brought on by my dyslexia and my need to show that I can carry my own weight.  

What saved me and what I had going for myself was my artistic talent, my looks and my physical ability to excel in all sports...and those other places where my IQ would come into play. Through these higher qualities, I was able to find my worth and over the years without even knowing it, I continued to developed and become more myself, be it the strong woman that I am today or the gifted artist that I remain to be. School didn’t become interesting until college, and although I wanted to work with animals and become a vet, I knew that I couldn’t.  Instead I continued with my art with an emphasis in photography. Later I went back to school and got my teaching credential and then returned again to UC Davis in my 40’s and got another degree in Graphic Design. I love knowledge and have always loved learning, but I would never ever wish to repeat my childhood experiences and the educational system.

My mother was a teacher and a smart lady, but had absolutely no connection with learning disabilities even though she herself was dyslexic. My father was a chemical engineer and was totally frustrated with my lack of skill in both reading words and understanding numbers as I also have dyscalculia.   And then I had an older brother who was both gifted in numbers, language and all else. I think one learns early when they’re the odd man out and they just start marching to their own drummer with or without anyone else.

Before even watching what the NoticeAbility program is doing for today’s children, I have recognized that I, as an adult, survived because I believed in myself and the wonderful skills and gifts I naturally had over those that did not have them, or for that matter, even begin to come close to. I honored what I didn’t excel in and what I was just naturally was superb in.  What I really would have loved was that support group in knowing that there were others like me...and that I wasn’t dumb. I’m just wired differently. I am able to connect the dots and see patterning much clearer than others, but reading remains difficult and I have to be in a totally quiet space so as to not be distracted. I’ve perfected the art of skim reading where my brain can just glance over words and compute the message.  Weird but wonderful.

Again, I want to thank your organization from the bottom of my heart for all that you are doing.  As a past educator and with my own learning disability, I was able to help and assist a lot of children...many who have become artists and entrepreneurs as I too have been throughout my adult life.  If I were to do it all over again, I would start up my own division of NoticeAbility where I live as there is such an incredible need to get the word out.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

-Dyslexic and proud if it !!!

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