My Life with Dyslexia

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

By Victoria Fry, Independent Living Skills Instructor and Tutor

Victoria at CLEFor a moment, I would like to share a very personal memory with you. I was in my classroom as a young child, and I was writing a story. I was naturally born with a blooming imagination; therefore storytelling was one of my favorite things to do. However, I was also a child who had little confidence in my spelling abilities. Rather than spell a word incorrectly; I made the choice to ask the teacher how to spell the word.

When I asked the teacher how to spell the word, she stopped the entire class and asked for silence. Then, she expressed that “if you don’t know how to spell ‘each’ by now, there is something wrong with you.” That statement was the beginning of a very hard year for me. Although it was only one comment, one comment sparked two, three, until I built a reputation as the “stupid” kid in school.

However, I am not stupid. Because my spelling skills were so low, I eventually got diagnosed with Dyslexia. Dyslexia means that I see patterns in space or behavior before other people foresee them; I feel experiences (never facts); I see the big picture before the detail; and my brain processes symbols differently and more slowly than other brains.

Dyslexia is not a disability to me, it’s a talent. It’s great being a person with dyslexia!

Forgive me if it sounds like I am bragging, but I’ve been through a lot of hardships to see my “disability” in such a positive light. Over time I have learned that people are going to tell you that you are different and therefore you can do things, and you can’t do other things. Please don’t listen to them. You can achieve it if you throw your heart and persistence into it. The naysayers may create trials in your life, and you might have to work harder than them to get to the same place. However, those hardships will create character, and that character is going to shine wherever you choose to direct it.

image001Revealing your Disability

I wish I could tell you the perfect time to reveal your challenges, but it’s a choice that you will have to make for yourself. I have never walked into a job interview and let them know that I am different due to a disability; I always let them know that I am different due to my unique strengths. Little do they know, the strengths are rooted in something many mislabel as a disability.

Once you reveal your disability, one of three things may happen.

1st – People may try to bubble wrap you and protect you in order to make you feel as comfortable as possible. They are likely doing this out of very good intention, and their concern is genuine.
2nd – People may be afraid of you or see you as different (I personally don’t try to deny this, but see that I’m an “amazing” different, not a “downgraded” different).
3rd – People will realize you’re different, and utilize you in the best way possible. The third and first reactions go hand in hand, and neither is done with ill will, even if on the surface it might appear that way. I tend to welcome both responses, because it’s proof that someone wants nothing less than the very best from you, and wants to place you in a situation where you are able to do your very best.

These reactions have all happened to me, and I am guilty of reacting in all three ways towards others. I don’t hold myself to a standard of perfection, and you shouldn’t hold them to it either. Just remember that we are all human, and all come from different backgrounds and experiences.

People with disabilities can go on to do amazing things. Trust me, I’m dyslexic and I have seen the pattern! I can’t control whether you will have a teacher who will see your difference as something negative, but I will encourage you to see yourself as a beacon of light that will shine wherever you choose to go, regardless of the reaction of others.

So… where do you want to shine?

CLE has locations in:

  • Austin, Texas
  • Costa Mesa, California
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Monterey, California
  • Washington, D.C.

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