by Shirley
(Texas, USA )

My first grade teacher called my mother and told her- I think your child is retarded. This was in a small rural Texas community-1977.. My mother knew I was not retarded. She may not have understood what was going on with me, but she knew my teacher was wrong. I struggled academically. I struggled until I decided school was not for me. I eventually dropped out.

I did go back and complete an adult continuing education course to receive my diploma. A friend talked me into going to college. The work was challenging at times, but enjoyable. My fluency rate began to increase. I read my first novel at 21 years of age. I was hooked. I began reading everything I could get my hands on. As a student in college, I discovered the love of writing. It was like the world opened up for me. I still felt academically inferior to others. I still do.

The more progress I make- the more I realize what I need to work on. This has been a life long struggle. I am now a teacher. My personal experience helps me to connect with my students. It allows me to have expectations and empathy for their academic struggles. I advocate for my students. Share their successes, as well as their failures.

Today my beautiful, charming eight year old daughter was given the educational diagnosis of dyslexia. I am devastated. I do not want the same struggles for my daughter. I want her to feel like part of the world. I do not want her to feel as though she is inferior to others. The sad thing is- she knew even before the testing. She knew that she struggled more than her peers. She will work hard. She will learn to overcome. To compensate. There will be great gifts. The challenge will always be there.

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