Labeling Dyslexia: It is Important!

Recently, I sat down with a dear friend of mine for a visit. This woman has a Ph.D., an extremely high IQ, and is a professor at a very prestigious university. She has been one of my idols for the last couple years. I extremely admire her intelligence, drive and accomplishments. Five minutes with her and anyone can tell she is a genius.

During this particular conversation, she started to ask me very specific questions about dyslexia in relation to herself. She confessed that she often confuses b, d, 9, p and q, has to read things multiple times in order to comprehend them, skips over unknown words and can’t sound them out, and her spelling is atrocious. I quickly realized that this friend of mine, this Ph.D., this women of incredible intelligence was, in fact, also dyslexic. When I told her my theory, she immediately burst into tears. Through these tears she said, “I am so relieved.”

I was identified as dyslexic at 20 years of age. My initial reaction was similar to my friend’s: relief. Throughout my life, my self-esteem has gone through highs and lows. At some points in my adolescence, I felt utterly stupid. I could never understand why I would work twice or three times as hard as my friends and siblings, but end up getting a poorer grade on an assignment or test. I was beyond frustrated and sad. I so wanted to be a smart person, but it always felt out of my reach.