Guest editorial: High schooler weighs in on dyslexia discussion
January 30, 2015
I am a sophomore at Park City High School who struggled to learn to read for as long as I can remember. I was finally diagnosed with dyslexia in 5th grade. It was an "aha" moment for me and my family and a relief to begin to understand the reasons behind my difficulties.
In response to Bruce Margolius’ guest editorial on January 21, 2015, "Must all disabilities be treated at public expense?" I say you really have a lot to learn. The "opinion pieces" you refer to are not trying to send the "Oh poor me, I have dyslexia, I can’t read’" message. They are bringing this long misunderstood disability to the attention of our community, our families and our children. I believe we need to bring this to the forefront to ensure me and my fellow dyslexics receive the same right to a "Fair and Public Education" as everyone else.
You say you are happy that you learned you were dyslexic later in life because you weren’t given "special treatment." Please understand, we are not asking for "special treatment," only to level the playing field with our peers. If I have my exams read aloud to me or am given headphones to hear it my grades have typically gone from a C to an A. I may know the material, but struggle to read what the test is actually asking me. Why would anyone want to discourage this? Why should I not receive the grade I deserve? Why shouldn’t I be given the opportunity to reach the potential I am capable of?
Dyslexics fall on a spectrum from moderate to very severe. This spectrum determines what accommodations or special services you may need to be successful in school. I have a 504 plan, that includes, extra time to take tests, all text books or reading assignments on audio, and speech to text to complete my writing assignments. These assist in lowering my anxiety, allow me to get the grades I believe I am should, which results in higher self confidence.
Your article made me feel like you are better than most and especially dyslexics who use "electronic gizmos" or any other accommodations. Just because you went to high profile universities does not ensure you understand what 15 20 percent of our population goes through everyday. You didn’t receive your degree in learning disabilities, so you make some nonsensical points. Many of us did not just "learn to read" and still struggle daily, no matter how much time and effort we exert, so making light of this is offensive. My Mother sat with me every day, reading to me from birth and having me read from age 4. I feel you assume that we haven’t made the effort and are just looking for an easy way out. Dyslexia is a life long learning difference and it doesn’t just "never come up again".
You claim that the famous dyslexics have "defeated their disability on their own terms." Do you know how they actually did that? If they use technology, have personal editors, listen to books on tape? Don’t assume what you do not know. Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Enterprises, dropped out of school at age 16 because he found it hard and yet look at him today. Pablo Picasso went to art school only. Einstein was told he was never going to make it through school, so he dropped out to study alone. Just to name a few.
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Finally, I question your thought that if 20 percent of the population is dyslexic, therefore it is not a disability. Personally, I don’t want 20 percent of our population going unrecognized, increasing the risk that they are illiterate, have low self-esteem and ultimately do not graduate from high school. I want us to do everything in our power and lead the charge to elevate literacy and encourage individuals to search for new and innovative ways to succeed!
– Written using "speech to text" and proudly edited by my Mom