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.
Similar to myself, my dear friend has also always struggled with feeling stupid. Despite all of her incredible accomplishments and documentation of her superior intelligence, she never felt smart.
My friend and I had done what so many dyslexic people do. We labeled ourselves as stupid, lazy and underachieving. Many people feel that labels are detrimental, and choose not to formally diagnose dyslexia. I could not disagree more. When I was finally identified as dyslexic, I was able to replace the label I had given myself for 16 years from stupid to dyslexic. Knowing this has given me strength, courage and an incredible amount of determination. As beautifully said by a Dyslexia Pros student, “I am dyslexic and proud!” Without this label of “dyslexia” I can guarantee my self-esteem would be zero, and I would still feel stupid.
Proper labeling is also very important in order to receive appropriate services and/or accommodations in school and the workplace. Without documentation of dyslexia, your child could miss out on help that is critically important to their success in academics and life.
Please feel free to email or call my mother or myself with any questions you may have. We are here to help!
Thank you for reading,