The growing years with dyslexia

Did you like school? Hate it? Endure it? Maybe you loved it or you couldn’t wait to leave. School is a nerve-wracking and embarrassing place for many but if you suffer from dyslexia, it can be so much worse.

In an emotionally charged piece this writer really captures the feelings of a child struggling to cope with reading difficulties and how those experiences impacted on her for the rest of her life.

The doors of the school swallowed up my tiny body. I froze as if I was going into a trap. So many times people have tried to trap me with words and puzzles, so many words. I would sit quietly and hope nobody notices me. Please don’t notice me. My mother walked beside me and I try to hide behind her full flowing skirt but don’t feel comforted. She will tell them to make me study, she is against me too. Why don’t they understand how hard it is for me?

As I enter the room there are numbers and words, letter and faces. The faces that will end up judging me in the end, laugh and jeer at me later as I twist my words. How can I stop it from happening? I wish I were somewhere else and not in this huge room that scares me so.

Years go by, I walk down the daunting hall of Junior High. There have been no answers as to why I am who I am. I just sit and cry. Most of the kids that I grew up with are here. Years of jeers and laughter weighing down on me.  I sit in the back of the room and hope no one notices that I’m there.

It was the day I had to stand in front of the class and speak: My history presentation. It was the day and my name was called. I walked through the aisles to the front of the class. I try to make myself small. Insignificant. I want to get past this quickly. My face rises red through body heat. My project chart shakes in my hands.

I am an academic, social and emotional failure. In my inability to hold a conversation I twist my words and phrases to the point of mutilation. I look away from all of them, make eye contact, that is what they tell us to do, but I can’t. Trying harder will not help. I get frustrated and aggressive and anti-social behaviour results from these tensions. But I can’t blame myself. Don’t hate myself. Don’t fight myself. Don’t strike out.

I drop my chart and begin to shake again. I look at the door and feel trapped. Can I make it to the door without anyone stopping me? Another girl shakes her head and asks the teacher if we can get on with it.

I want to take control and tell people. I want to communicate.  If only they can be patient with me. I have something to say. It’s not my fault. The words jump off the page. It’s not my fault. My hand moves around the paper. Searching for the words. The words change on you and go blury. It’s just not my fault.

And to that one teacher that passed back my history grade and told me in front of the class, marry well in response to my grade for the presentation. I say, it didn’t kill me and it did make me stronger.

 

Alice O’Donnell

 

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5 thoughts on “The growing years with dyslexia

  1. Great heartfelt piece about the difficulties of dyslexia…..

  2. Hi Alice, I have never had Dyslexia, I have lived with it and felt its effects throughout my adult years My husband has it, I have always been his Secretary. My son has it,, the coming of the word processor turned his life around, he has achieved 3 Degrees in mental health. My 12-year-old, grandson has it, he is struggling with school – like you did – he is finding the going so hard at his High School. They know about his problem but staff are not doing what they promised. The thing I know, that people with this condition, are cleverer than the average, the ways they find to disguise their inabilities! As you say, difficulties make you stronger and more determined to succeed.
    Marjorie Lacy (aka mauveone)

  3. Susan McCartney

    Alice, this is a powerful and moving piece of writing. I had the privilege to read it out loud and I thank you for this. It is wonderful.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. Very powerful and moving, and I am sure that many adults recognise their own school experience in your words.

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