I Identify as Dyslexic

I have been reading Ben Foss' Dyslexia Empowerment Plan. In it, he talks about owning your identity as a dyslexic and tossing the stigma that comes with it.

If you have dyslexia, you will get my story. When I was in 2nd grade, my mother told me I could get my ears pierced if I could move from the "blue reading group" to the "yellow reading group." I knew all I needed to do was read really. fast to make that move. So I put all expression and comprehension aside and read each word as fast as possible. I didn't remember a single word I read, but I remember Mr. Sorensen saying, "Lisa, you can stop reading now; you will be joining the yellow group." YES!!! Cute earrings, here I come. At that moment, I learned that appearance seemed more important than the actual ability to read. And I worked with that mentality for a long time, fake it until you make it kind of thing.

I avoided reading from that point forward; I remember being in 3rd grade and someone making fun of me because I didn't know -tion said "shun." If we were round-robin reading, I always had to go to the bathroom 2 people before my turn. Even if we were reading in church, I would leave the room to avoid being called on.

When I was assigned chapter books in school, my dear mother would lie on the floor in the living room with me, and we would read together. My comprehension of texts read aloud was magnificent (still much better to this day). But if left to read it alone, I couldn't find my way through the decoding and comprehension.

When I was getting my undergrad, I took a children's literature class. We were asked to bring a book that we loved as a child. I considered skipping that day of class, but instead, I grabbed the Little House on the Prairie set of books I had on my shelf. The same set of books that had sat on my shelf since I was 9 or 10 years old. I stood in front of my class with my pristine set of books with not a single crease in the spine or wrinkle in the pages and explained I hated reading. I loved stories, but there had never been a book in my entire life that I couldn't wait to pick up and finish. Although I was embarrassed, it was my mission as a teacher to teach my kids to learn to love to read.

For the most part, that was the last time I experienced embarrassment over my dyslexia until many, many years later. I was working at a book fundraiser my child's school was hosting, and a parent in Eli's 3rd-grade class noticed a book I had picked up. She asked who I was buying for. I excitedly told her that Eli was finally beginning to blend letters, and I thought he could tackle that book now. She looked at me, so very sad, and said, "Oh Lisa, I'm so sorry."

I was not in the dark when it came to Eli's disability. I had become Orton-Gillingham certified to teach him how to read. I had hired tutors and sat through hours of testing and IEP meetings. I had never hesitated to share our struggles and trials with learning disabilities. But that day, having someone look at me like my child had a devastating illness made me shrink into the background, questioning my dedication to his education. I was fighting the fight; I was doing everything I could to help him; I was raising him to self-advocate, to be proud of who he was; yet, I was terrified of judgment.

So here I sit, telling you. You do what you can the best way you know how. And if you don't know how you ask for help. There are websites, services, and people in your community looking to help. So be a proud dyslexic, be a proud dyslexic Mom/Dad, be a proud educator, be proud.

If you need help navigating the eligibility or IEP process, please email me and set up a 20-minute consultation. I would love to hear your story and point you in the right direction