Dyslexia Doesn’t Mean You’re Dumb
Nicole Poetzel, fifth place
“I always thought it was a bad thing to be different, but it’s not.” - anonymous
When I was in kindergarten, we had to take our little books home and read them. They were the easy books that had at the most maybe seven words on one page. Even so, reading them was still really hard for me. My mom is a teacher so she could probably see that I was struggling. The school I went to was a small school, so they didn’t have classes that could help me with reading.
In first grade, it was the same thing. I was still struggling and both my parents and teacher could see it was hard for me. When everyone was reading their books and flipping through the pages like it was nothing, I was still on the first page. I hated it when I would have to read out loud to my teacher, but when we would have to read, she never called on me because she knew it was hard. At the end of first grade, my parents told me I was moving schools. I would no longer be going to the same school as my mom. I was so angry; I didn’t want to move schools. I wouldn’t know anyone. I started to cry. I couldn’t control it. I hated it when things changed. I would go to school every day with my mom because she worked there. I had to go to the Medford Elementary School and my mom wasn’t there, my brother was at the middle school so I had no one. In the end, I had to go to Medford. I was alone. I had to go. I didn’t have a choice.
In second grade I was in Medford. My mom and I got in the car and went to this place by the hospital. I was so confused about what we were doing there. I asked my mom, and she said I was going to talk to someone. When we were sitting in the waiting room someone called my name. I was waiting for my mom to get up and go with me, but she didn’t. The lady told me I was just going which made me nervous because I don’t even know this person. So when I went into this room, the lady just started to talk to me about what my favorite color was and my family and the sports I liked and what I didn’t like. We did puzzles, which I hate, and talked like we knew each other and we’ve talked before. When we were done I went home and didn’t talk about it.
Then it was the summer going into third grade, and my mom and I were in the living room talking. I asked her why I was so dumb and reading and school was hard for me. She said I wasn’t dumb. She told me I had something called dyslexia and that it made things a little harder for me. I immediately started to freak out. I asked if there was a pill I could take to get rid of it? She said no. I asked if there was anything I could do to get rid of it? I didn’t want to be different. For the longest time, I didn’t like the word dyslexia or dyslexic. So my parents and teachers would call it the “D” word so they didn’t have to say it and I didn’t have to hear it. I eventually got used to hearing it. Did you know one in five kids have dyslexia?
Ever since I found out, I didn’t want people to know that I am dyslexic. I always thought it was a bad thing to be different, but it’s not. Every time I would become friends I would tell them I have something called dyslexia and that it makes reading harder for me. I remember in fourth grade I told two girls I used to be pretty good friends with. The class was in the library looking for a book, and I was scared to tell them. I didn’t know what they would think. I thought they would say they didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. But when I told them they just said ok and acted like I was normal. I didn’t expect them to react as they did.
In sixth grade is what really made my fear come true. I was always scared to tell people I was dyslexic because I thought people would make fun of me, like call me stupid or dumb. That’s why I would always tell my closest friends because I knew I could trust them. I remember what that classmate said to me all the time. I was coming back from math class, and my best friend and I were waiting to go to our homeroom. This boy just walked out of social studies and somehow knew I was dyslexic and when he came out of the room he had a little piece of paper. He walked up to me and asked if I could read what was on the paper. He had written the word “dog” on a piece of paper. I was so shocked. I was mad. I was embarrassed about who would do such a thing. I quickly put my stuff in the classroom and ran to the bathroom. My best friend went and told our homeroom teacher then came to the bathroom with me. I was in the bathroom crying, and my best friend was crying too.
What I’ve learned is that it’s ok to be different. I’m not the only one who has dyslexia. I shouldn’t be embarrassed by something I have. I can embrace it. I’m more confident in myself. I ask questions about something if I don’t understand it or if I need help. I’m not afraid to stand up for myself. I’ll tell them off if I have to. I’m not going to let anyone say anything about me being dumb or stupid because I’m not. I just learn differently. Dyslexia is one little thing that makes me, me. I’m not going to let it define me.
I would like to live my life more confident. In high school, I want to make the honor roll and have good grades. I want to be able to advocate for myself. I know I’m going to still struggle with some things, but I will ask questions. My dyslexia isn’t going to hold me back. I’m still going to do the job I want to do when I’m older. It may be hard, but I will succeed.