I spent most of my childhood dealing with an undiagnosed learning disability. It made school tough and my self-esteem took a major blow. I hated being different. The summer before high school I was finally diagnosed with not one but two learning disabilities, and I have to give a shout out to my mother for fighting that battle. I was now faced with the fact that I’m wasn’t stupid or lazy but was in fact different and to any 14-year old girl, fresh out of the hell that is middle school, being different was scary.
The upside was now I was in classes that were suited to my learning needs, I no longer cried before math class and writing an essay didn’t send me into a full blown panic attack. The downside was everything was labeled as L.D. (learning disabled) and I had teachers that sought to make my life hell because they had to grade me differently. In the late 90’s it seems that if you were labeled as L.D. everyone just assumed you couldn’t read, write or were slow. It was my reality and it sucked. My saving grace was my high school had excellent music and drama departments, I might have sucked at math but I was a powerhouse in the choir.
Someone recently asked me what it was like to have dyslexia (and in my case I also have dyscalculia which affects numbers and grammar) and the best description I could give is everything I look at is backwards. I sometimes feel like my entire world is a strange trip to Wonderland where everything is upside down and twisted. I then get asked “how do you cope” or “you’re an adult, isn’t that embarrassing?” The answer is no, not anymore.
See over the years I’ve learned to embrace both my dyslexia and dyscalculia, I wouldn’t be me without them. Being different growing up helped me grow as a person, helped me to understand that everyone is different. As for how I cope, well I have good days and bad days. I never hand write anything that would be seen by people who aren’t me, I have found that typing helps to kinda auto correct the letter switching as to this day I still switch the letters “d” and “b” around. I have to really take my time when reading and I’m never without a calculator as math in my head just doesn’t happen.
I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses but most importantly I’m not afraid of saying I have dyslexia ( or dyscalculia, even if no one knows what it is). I can now laugh about it and accept that it’s a part of who I am. I’m the nerdy, quirky girl who reads backwards, sucks at math but loves anything artistic, the living example of being right brained. I also not afraid of standing up to people who might call me stupid or slow, I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime and as a 34 (almost 35yr old) adult, I don’t need to regress to 7th grade.
My name is Misti, I’m and adult and I have dyslexia. Deal with it.
Photos: Jenna Duffy