HomedisabilitystoriesYou’ve Come a Long Way, Kid

I wasn’t going to make a post today, but then I remembered the #DisabilityStories event being hosted by the National Museum of American History.

I decided to do something I’ve been thinking of for a while – digging out the old folder of work from fifth grade, the year I turned eleven. That year, one of my teachers compiled a bunch of my work to demonstrate how far I’d come.

As the blog description states, I’m dyslexic. I was born dyslexic. I was lucky to be identified early, but I still struggled through my early schooling because dyslexia was understood even less than it is today.

As I went through the old spelling tests, writing assignments, math assignments and notes to my mom, I snapped pictures of some of my lowest points.

To be fair, I did pass enough tests to graduate to sixth grade, and even scored a few perfect stores. There were still a lot of notes just like these through my schooling, though.

I have the feeling I was doing the best I could. That’s a score of 50 out of 100.
Yes! Yes, I was! Again, 60 out of 100.

By the way, this is how our spelling lists were provided to us:

Her handwriting is much prettier than mine is now, but “steamboat” still looks like “steamboot” to me. “Yardstick” looks like “Rjardstick”. “Stoplight” looks like “staplight”.

This was the early 1990s, so she may not have had her own computer, but she could have at least written the lists in print instead of cursive.

I got most of the answers correct on this math test, which is what earned me the “very shiny” comment, but “almost fast” is a bit on the passive aggressive side. Again, this boils down to a fundamental misunderstanding of dyslexia. If you want quality, you can’t tell me to go as fast as possible. 17 minutes is still pretty good for me when it comes to solving that many math problems without a calculator.
The word “minutes” still gets me sometimes.
Again with the spelling. Remember, I had to concentrate twice as hard as the other kids just to comprehend and form words. It’s a wonder these reports didn’t turn me off of reading completely.

Bear in mind, this is from just one year. Grades 1 through 4 were terrible for me. I don’t remember enjoying education until some of my high school science and literature classes.

Since then, I’ve made quite a bit of progress. Here are a couple of highlights from this year.

One of my vignettes was published! You can read it here.

I was chosen to sit on two panels about writing at CONvergence.

My writeup on this one was featured on BlogHer, by the way.
You can read about how that one went here.

This April, my article about Edible Flowers was voted Hub of the Day on HubPages.

In February I was invited to take part in the #WomensLives initiative through BlogHer and PRI International.

Numerous blog posts and articles have also been featured in small, independent newsletters, and I’ve been writing copy regularly. I was also head-hunted by a placement agency for creative writers. I’m always working on my fiction, submitting to literary journals and I’m currently turning the zero draft of my first novel into an official first draft.

It should be noted: I’m not trying to brag. I’m just trying to point out how a child who could barely pass middle school could eventually pursue her dreams.

I’m still dyslexic. I’ll always be dyslexic, and that’s more than ok. I’ve come to view it as more of a situational disability. My environment plays a huge role in the way it effects me.

Overall, I’ve come to view it as an advantage. My spelling is still pretty bad, and I still read slowly, but those things pale in comparison to the creative way my mind solves problems. With the challenges come the strengths of flexible thinking, seeing unlikely connections and the enhanced ability to adapt to all sorts of situations.

Am I success story? I wouldn’t say that.

“Success” implies completion, but I’m a work in progress. I still burn out when I push myself too far, and I still get rejected a lot. Rejection doesn’t make me a failure. It just means I have to keep going. It’s a part of life.

That’s ok. I’m human, just like every other member of this species, which means I’ll grow in one way or another right up until my final breath.

I’m where I must be.

I will never stop learning, and I will advocate for more acceptance as best I can for as long as I can. My story will only end when I’m forgotten, and hopefully then its echoes will reverberate through future generations.

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