My 12-year-old daughter has a pretty kick-ass attitude about dyslexia. It’s more of a footnote¹ to her life, rather than something that defines or limits her.
Her success is a testament to her hard work and perseverance in the face of adversity–not caused by her learning differences, but by the lack of understanding and support she experienced early on at school. In particular, how the “wait and see” approach (also known as the “failure model“) made school harder than it needed to be for her in the long run.
Given her experience with the education system, what would she like you to know?
5 things a 12-year-old wants you to know about dyslexia:
That is the empowering message of I AM DYSLEXIC – a gorgeous animated short film just released on YouTube for all the world to see and share.
The award-winning film was directed and produced by Mads Johan Øgaard and Katie Wyman. They are both talented and creative dyslexics – their successful film making a reminder that dyslexia needn’t hold you back from achieving your dreams.
The film was made with no budget and a team of more than 60 students most of which have dyslexia and other learning differences.
I remember this day clearly. I insisted on dressing myself. Mismatched mittens and wrongly buttoned sweater — it didn’t matter. I was pleased with the results. My father took this photo, a celebration of his fiercely independent child.
Me at three.
Happy, free, loved, accepted.
My life before school. At home with a mom and dad who let me be me.
All that changed, I changed, when I entered the Ontario school system.
I was identified as dyslexic at the age of 49. It was like finding the missing piece of an unfinished puzzle (to paraphrase Steven Spielberg). Finally, my life made sense. In the days that followed, I did what I always do: I wrote it out. Then, I published my story on my book blog Lost and Found Books.
“We deserve a chance…not to be defined by what we struggle with and what we are not, but to be seen as whole people with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. We deserve a chance to add to the narrative on dyslexia that historically had been dominated by (albeit well meaning) non-dyslexics.”
Sarah Fearn, editor’s preface, everything is spherical (2014)
I sense a change is coming. Our voices are getting louder. Whether it’s on social media or through storytelling or advocacy work, people with dyslexia want/need to tell their own stories.
This is no small thing.
This is an act of bravery, even defiance, in a world that presumes to tell us who we are and how we feel; that we are broken, where we are broken, and how we can (or can’t) be “fixed.” This comes from the strangest places. Not just from the trolls, but even the people who aim to help. So many labels, but very little real understanding.
“This much is clear: The mind of the dyslexic is different from the minds of other people. Learning that my problem with processing language wasn’t stupidity seemed to take most of my life.” ~Philip Schultz, My Dyslexia
My Dyslexia (2011) by Philip Schultz is on the top of my reading list for 2017. I’ve already read it a few times, underlining the good bits and reading it out loud to whoever will listen. And I will read it again, and again, and again.
As a parent, I struggle daily to ensure my daughter gets the help she needs to learn and be happy at school. Some days I succeed, other days are a miserable failure. It hurts to see her suffer needlessly.