My Story and My struggle

by Kate Bellon
(St.Louis MO)

Try to read this. This is how words look to me every day. Now I want you to think about all the things you read on a daily basis and what if words looked like that to you: Cereal boxes, textbooks, computer screens, signs,movies, word problems, instructions ect. The significance of this topic is because it’s hurtful when people say “you got it yet kate” or laugh at the way I completely misspelled a word. And I’m saying if you saw words like this everyday, ya you would read words wrong and ya you would spell them wrong. Dyslexia is also struggling comprehension. Dyslexia is hard, and I want you guys to learn about it and not make comments about people who struggle. I am going to be talking about what dyslexia is, my story with dyslexia and what would happen if you don’t say anything. One in ten people have dyslexia, so it’s probably affecting many people you know.
Understanding Dyslexia. First off I want to say that Dyslexia is a Disability not a disease. You can not catch dyslexia from another person. So please don’t call it a disease. And people with dyslexia can read and are very smart. Also Dyslexia affects your brain not your eyes. For people with dyslexia the right side of the brain is more active than the left side, thus making them more creative thinkers, but have a harder time reading letters. Before I got diagnosed we went to go check my sight, and the stupid eye doctor prescribed me glasses because when I read the thing I would read the wrong letters. My world history teacher said to me last year “Oh does this help you to see the letters better?” … I have 20/20 vision people! My eyes can see letters, my brain just moves them and flips them. Dyslexia is most often genetic, and is different for everyone who has it. And it’s not like when you have dyslexia and you learn to read, your fixed, your brain will always shift the letters. I need to touch an object or walk around in circles or do jumping jacks repeating the words to learn what it means. And I’m not going to do that for every word in the english language. So it takes me about double if not more than your average time to do my homework and to learn in class. Although there are ways to help reading like holding a piece of paper under the word. But having dyslexia isn't a completely bad thing. Having dyslexia may mean that you struggle in a few areas but in one or two areas you completely over excell because your right side is super active.
My story. We found out I was dyslexic in the first grade. What do you do in first grade? Learn your letters and how to read small sentences like “ Bob saw a cat”. But, when you struggle doing the simple thing that everyone can, life gets hard. My mom told me that each day after school in first grade I would come out balling because I didn’t understand what they were trying to teach me. So I got tested. The results said that I had dyslexia. My second grade teacher told my mom that I needed to switch schools, because the school I was currently at was not helping me learn the way I needed to. So I said goodbye to my friends and moved to the kirkwood school district. Once switching schools and going to tutoring once or twice a week for a hour of two for five years at churchill which is a place where they teach kids how to break down words and syllables and teach kids with learning disabilities how to read. My third grade year, at the age of nine I began learning to read. Third grade through eighth grade experience, I did not tell anyone about my disability. I didn’t understand what it was and I didn’t understand why I would get pulled out of class all the time with individual teachers, and why I would sit in the classes with all the people with behavioral problems and autism. But, we all learned under the learning consultant teacher. And I didn't understand why I didn't learn as fast as the other kids. So I hid that I had dyslexia and decided to take on the role of the funny dumb one in my friend group and I still kinda do.
What drove me crazy was when teachers hovered over me, watching me wright, watching misspell words and watched me as I stared at a problem for a half hour because I didn't know what it says. When you're sitting in class everyday, like I still do and never understand what the teacher is saying, or it takes you extra time to process what thing are saying, you learn to hate teachers and hate school because they make you feel dumb. You learn to never raise your hand because your always wrong (because you're not comprehending what's going on in the class) and if you ask a teacher a question you learn to just say “ya I got it” because after two minutes of them trying to explain it because you know that they have no idea how to correctly teach you. The you go back to your seat and go back to staring at your paper where the words and letters taunt you.
The other day in chemistry I began crying because the teacher was trying to explain something to me. She was going so fast and using words that were huge to me but probably small to you. Like the word electron, and you say “ Kate you learned what a electron was in the sixth grade and we have been talking about electrons the last four weeks in class, have you not been listening? and you laugh” Because you would think if we were talking about something for four week I would know what it was. The thing is, my brain doesn't let me just sit in a chair and comprehend what the teacher is saying, I have to touch something or move around. So every class isn't really a class for me, I have to go home and relearn everything my way. I have know idea what 75% of the words in my chemistry teacher’s sentence ment and as she went further and further on and deeper into her words and letters, that I didn't understand, as my brain was flipping her words around and telling me like usual “ yep you don't understand this either”, I began to cry. So I said “ ya ok, got it” and went to the bathroom and continued to cry.
If you don’t say anything Because I felt like nobody understood what I was constantly going through, this summer I went through some very bad depression, it was the worst experiance of my life. And if you don't do anything than people with dyslexia can tend to demean themselves into the common stereotype that people with dyslexia just see their letters backwards... Dyslexia is so much more, it’s not comprehending what a teacher is saying. Dyslexia is, having to always go the extra mile to get a B as a grade. Dyslexia is, struggling with vocabulary. Dyslexia is, confrontation and being comfortable with who you are. Dyslexia is always having the feeling that you're one step behind in class. Dyslexia is always reassuring yourself that you can do it. With Dyslexia school is like your own personal battle field that you are forced to go to everyday.

I talked to you about, what dyslexia actually is, my story and what would happen if you don't say anything. I am able to tell you all this because I go through this 24/7. If there is anything I want from you to get from this speech, is to understand what dyslexia is and that it’s a struggle. What I don't understand is why there are not more schools available to teach people with dyslexia how to learn since one tenth of the population has it. But, since we can not fix that now what I would like you guys to do, Is to try to help people who are struggling in class instead of whispering comments about them to your neighbor. Don't think the slower learning kids are dumb because that's not the case at all, they can learn just as much or more that you, they just don't learn the way the average student does. Don't get annoyed at kids who constantly ask questions. Don't be annoyed that you got the slow girl as your partner, be happy that you have the chance to help her excel. Don't feel like kids who get things read to them or get extended time on tests that they are lucky and that they get to take the test easier. Because they don't have it easier than you by getting extended time, the point of extended time is to help them to take the test at the level that someone without a learning disability does. And, just the fact that someone was willing to try to help is good, is what we need. What has helped me the most with my disability was not learning to dissect letters (although that helped!), but what helped me the most was being open with it and telling people that ya I struggle in this area. Getting through school reading words like this is difficult but, is easy with people willing to help.

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