I am the worst speller. I can remember writing my spelling words every night in anticipation of my Friday spelling test, which no matter how many times I wrote my words, I’d still only get a C or less on my test. When I would get home, I had a guaranteed spanking in store since in my household the only acceptable grade was an A. Even though my mother was a teacher, this was the 1970’s and learning disabilities were relegated to the mentally impaired only. Due to my math scores, I was placed in with the “low-average” students who couldn’t have possibly cared less about school. At this point in time I was reading at a college-level, but everything was based on math. Junior high school couldn’t have been more painful.
Enter high school. At fifteen I decided to skip school one day, and the following day handed in a note from my mother in which I’d misspelled her name – I know I am the cleverest person in the room. When the office got in touch with my parents, they didn’t really care about my absence, they wanted me tested for learning disabilities. The woman who tested me was so wonderful, she even gave me a new I.Q. test since I told her that my version of taking an I.Q. test was to make patterns out of the bubbles, not to answer the questions.
That was when they discovered that I had multiple learning disabilities, dyslexia being just one of them. I also have spatial relations issues, which goes a long way in explaining my ability to walk down hallways and bounce off the walls, my inability to skip until I was 12, and my failure to even remotely understand geography and geometry. There are other disabilities, but these are the ones that mostly impact my life.
Dyslexia seems to be the gift that just keeps on giving. I not only transpose numbers (which as everyone knows can be issue with record keeping), and misspell words, but I also mispronounce words. I will often pronounce words the way they’re spelled, and not even phonetically, but actually spelled, making me feel like a fool when I’m in company.
I strongly urge anyone who even suspects that their child, or themselves have a learning disability to get it checked out. School systems are often required by law to provide testing for children who show evidence of a disability. You can go on-line and find help for a variety of disabilities, along with coping mechanisms to help you circumvent your specific issues. When I was four years old I taught myself to read, but this was unusual in a person with dyslexia. My mother read to us all the time, and that was the motivation. However, every problem usually has a solution. Educate yourself, learn new ways of doing certain things, but most importantly, never give up. Never ever think that you’re stupid. A learning disability doesn’t mean you are dumb, it just means that you have an opportunity to learn to work around it. As a child who not only felt stupid, but was told I was stupid, my letter from MENSA showed me that I wasn’t stupid, and other people believed I was bright. You may not receive such a letter, but believe me, learning disabilities do not define you anymore than your shoe-sized defines you.