Dyslexia – A Personal Tale

Once upon a time…

There was a little boy who so wanted to make his parents proud. However, no matter how hard he tried, he just could not seem to understand all the sounds, rules, and patterns intrinsic to reading as his classmates did. His parents and teachers asserted that he was lazy, not trying, or just not so smart. Others blamed his parents, suggesting that they did not provide the right support at home. Soon other children noticed and he became known as the “dumbest kid” in the class. He was always in the lowest reading groups, always ostracized when assigned to group/class projects, had difficulty maintaining attention, and off-task behaviors ensued. Soon, not only could this little boy not read, but he was seen as a behavior problem.

To his astonishment, when he misbehaved, others thought he was funny and he gained attention. If he could not be cool for academic prowess, he found he could be cool for being the child that pushed the envelope on breaking the rules. He was occasionally crossing the line and getting in trouble, and soon he was spending a lot of time in the principal’s office.

“…I know firsthand how debilitating the absence of awareness is of how dyslexia can destroy the lives of otherwise smart children…”

Eventually, his chronic failure in school, disruptive behavior, and teacher and parent criticism, created so much ego-insult that anxiety and depression, self-doubt, and poor self-esteem dominated this little boy’s emotional style. As he moved into middle and high school, more and more at-risk behaviors ensued, as did experimentation with drugs and alcohol. When using drugs and alcohol, the emotional distress, fear, and self-doubt while the perception of power increased. Soon the drugs, alcohol, and poor lifestyle choices further eroded familial relationships, and pushed away friends that could have been role models. The little boy found himself as an adult with his life in total disarray.

The boy survived, and against all odds, eventually got his life on track. The twists and turns that got him from where he was to where he is today are fuel for a very thrilling novel. Several special educators, a mother who never gave up, and the grace of God got him through some very difficult years. That little boy was me. I know firsthand how debilitating the absence of awareness is of how dyslexia can destroy the lives of otherwise smart children. I also know that as with folklore and reality shows, there are clear advantages to being dyslexic.

I have been most fortunate to have, through character strength and the support of several great mentors, developed into what many perceive as an expert on “dyslexia.” What continues to fascinate me is the lack of awareness and misperceptions in the general public, and in most educators, into just what dyslexia is.  Dyslexia does not mean you see things backwards!

Sincerely,
Coach Mike

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