‘Are you dyslexic?’

In highschool I was very involved with Georgia 4-H! I had the privilege of serving on the South-East Senior Board with some really great people from all over Georgia during my senior year of highschool. Being on the board was really fun because we got to help make plans for the year, speak at events, and represent our fellow 4-H’ers. Since this was before the time of Zoom and Facetime, we would show up for a public speaking service with an hour to get ready.

I didn’t mind the fast turn around because it felt pretty organized! There was one time where we showed up, had about 15 min before it was show time, 4-H’ers were already coming in to get a good seat and the board was behind stage prepping the speaking order and quickly going over the script.

If you know me you know I have no problem speaking in front of groups! (Don’t I look so happy with the microphone in my hand in the cover photo?) I actually really love it. I have always been pretty comfortable on any stage. But what I don’t love is sight reading. I have gone my whole life not being great at reading and writing. I would do everything possible to get around reading in school. Well, here I was, waiting for my speaking assignment, with just a few minutes until the program starts and I was handed a poem….

I tried reading it out loud for a quick practice and I could not get the rhythm, I could not pronounce some of the words, I could not even make it through the first few lines without needing to start over. It was scary, it was ugly and the fear I had with this poem in front of me has never left my mind.

As we didn’t have time for me to struggle through the poem, the director took it out of my hands and gave it to one of the board members and changed my role to starting the Pledge of Allegiance. He looked me dead in the eyes and asked me if I was dyslexic.

This was the second time in one year where a teacher/mentor asked me if I was dyslexic. I remember trying to focus during our presentation but I couldn’t shake the feeling of embarrassment that I could not read the poem. I could not stop thinking that being dyslexic might explain a lot of things in my life.

Since this is a memory that is so ingrained in my mind as an embarrassing moment, I have fought to overcome it. I am so thankful for every teacher/mentor who helped me in school and in extracurriculars! I am thankful for those who embraced my strengths and helped me work on my weaknesses.

Being dyslexic is so much more than reading letters and words backwards. Here is some information to help you understand dyslexia at different stages from the mayoclinic.org

“Before school

Signs that a young child may be at risk of dyslexia include:

  • Late talking
  • Learning new words slowly
  • Problems forming words correctly, such as reversing sounds in words or confusing words that sound alike
  • Problems remembering or naming letters, numbers and colors
  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games

School age

Once your child is in school, dyslexia signs and symptoms may become more apparent, including:

  • Reading well below the expected level for age
  • Problems processing and understanding what he or she hears
  • Difficulty finding the right word or forming answers to questions
  • Problems remembering the sequence of things
  • Difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words
  • Inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading

Teens and adults

Dyslexia signs in teens and adults are similar to those in children. Some common dyslexia signs and symptoms in teens and adults include:

  • Difficulty reading, including reading aloud
  • Slow and labor-intensive reading and writing
  • Problems spelling
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading
  • Mispronouncing names or words, or problems retrieving words
  • Trouble understanding jokes or expressions that have a meaning not easily understood from the specific words (idioms), such as “piece of cake” meaning “easy”
  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing
  • Difficulty summarizing a story
  • Trouble learning a foreign language
  • Difficulty memorizing
  • Difficulty doing math problems”

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