I could read when I was just 4 years old. Dinosaur Bones by Byron Barton was my book of choice. I would read it out loud to anyone who would listen. I felt like a literary genius! The reality however, was that my librarian mom had read it to me so many times that I had the whole thing memorized. I knew how to read the words because I had heard them so many times. (At this moment allow me to digress and send my sincere apologies to my wonderful mother who had to read it a bazillion times.) Little did I know that memorizing words would be the ONLY way I would really be able to read for a very long time.
I am dyslexic. I was diagnosed officially when I was 11 years old and in 6th grade. Reading and writing were the bane of my existence. I would have rather scrubbed toilets or any other task than read or write. I loved listening to someone read to me, and I had great ideas in my head but just couldn't get them down on paper. Of course, this combination of hate and fear does not fit well into a typical 11-year-old's daily life of school.
Beginning junior high with a learning disability is like a giant black cloud already hanging over an already stormy time in any young person's life. Who wants to be "identified" and go to "that room" for instruction or help? I would hang around the halls talking to friends and sneak into the room at the last minute, totally convinced that no one would ever know that I had any kind of learning issues. Right, like that was going to work. I was fortunate enough to have good friends, I was good at music and sports and much of what I thought would happen was more about MY feelings then anybody else's. With the help of my parents, some wonderful teachers and even some bad teachers (I'll have to devote a whole blog entry to teachers) I made my way through school with a decent outcome.
A lot of that also had to do with going to a wonderful reading program called Orton Gilllingham. This specialized reading program is provided free to children with dyslexia by the Masons. I began when I was 15 at a 2nd grade reading level. I ended three years later as a high school senior on a college reading level. HOPE now became part of my life. Miracles do happen.
I finished my bachelor's degree in two years at Full Sail University. Yes, two years of eight-hour days of classes and only two two-week vacations at Christmas and summer. It began like Mt. Everest, but I conquered it very successfully.
Today I live in Steamboat Springs, Colo. I have a good job and live in a wonderful town. I ski and bike and meet people from all over the world. My dyslexia still comes into play on a daily basis, but I've learned so many ways to compensate that it usually doesn't present a huge problem. I've come a long way from the 11-year-old boy trying to hide my disability. It's been an interesting journey. Cheers!
For more on learning disabilities, click here.