Growing Up Dyslexic

Ever since I was young, I hated reading.

It was difficult for my parents to get me to pick up reading or studying in general. It was even more frustrating as my older sister loved reading. My mom, in particular, found it weird that I didn’t want to read at all.

Instead, I preferred watching TV because all I had to do was watch and listen.

I was told that the way I spoke was shocking for my age because I knew a lot of words that some kids typically didn’t. I think it’s because of all the TV shows I consumed that weren’t limited to kids shows, but those targeted towards adults too.

It also helped that I was curious. Whenever I didn’t know the meaning of a word, I would without a doubt ask what it meant.

The memory of my first year of primary school still lingers.

I was 7 years old in a Chinese school where we had to learn three languages: English, Malay, and Chinese.

During one particular Malay class, we had a spelling test. Our teacher warned us that if we got less than 5 over 10, we would be beaten with a cane for every word we got wrong.

Let’s just say I had a few beatings.

It didn’t help that I was also bad in maths. I just found learning very difficult. In the entire class, I was usually ranked the second last.

I had a lot of teachers telling me that I was stupid and lazy. Needless to say, I hated school.

The thing is, I don’t hate learning because I do enjoy it. I truly do. I enjoy learning and I get the concepts, but when you ask me to answer it during an exam, the words or the theory simply don’t come to me naturally.

I liked science, though. When I was younger, my dad would read stories about Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison to me. In those stories, they said that Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison both had a learning disability. Apparently both of them didn’t learn how to talk till the age of 4 and they had people telling them that they were mentally slow. However, they persevered and made a name for themselves.

When my dad told me their stories, I didn’t feel so alone anymore.

There are people out there just like me. They managed to make a name for themselves despite what people told them.

At age 10, my mom read an article about dyslexia and told my dad that I might have it. She suggested that I should get tested. So, I did. It was confirmed that I have dyslexia.

I finally found a sense of relief.

It felt like, finally, they know what’s wrong with me. I couldn’t tell the difference between b and d. To me, they both looked the same and because of that my spelling was bad. I didn’t understand how words were formed. Thank god for spell checks.

Trust me when I say that if I didn’t look up the spelling of some words, you would be reading gibberish.

After I was diagnosed with dyslexia, I was sent to classes that helped. In the hospital, I had classes with other kids that had other learning disabilities. All of us ended up doing the same thing. We each had a book of crossword puzzles that we had to find the words to. We also had to put books on our heads and balance it for however long we could.

Personally, I didn’t find it helpful at all.

They also prescribed me a pill that supposedly helped me with my concentration, which would allow me to study better.

My mom asked a tuition teacher who specialized in dyslexia about the pill. She told us not to proceed with it as it would turn me into a zombie. It would help me concentrate but I would crash at the end of the day.

As the classes in the hospital did not help, I went for other classes that specialized in dyslexia. Those classes helped me more and I finally figured out the difference between b and d. Even though I still mess up at times, I definitely saw the improvement.

After 3 to 4 years, I stopped going to classes because I felt like a “normal kid”. No more working on my “disability” but working on myself and what I can do. Sometimes, I don’t even remember I am dyslexic.

I’m now 18 and I’ll be sitting for my IGCSE’s this year.

I once wrote in an essay that I was dyslexic and when my English teacher found out, she told me that if I was really dyslexic, I should get an official medical letter. That way, when I sit for my IGCSE’s, they would overlook my spelling and maybe some grammatical errors. I was opposed to the idea at first because I didn’t want to receive any special treatments.

I wanted to be treated like everyone else.

To be perfectly honest, I was scared that I didn’t have dyslexia anymore because I could now tell b and d apart. I myself thought that maybe I was just lazy because I didn’t read more to improve my spelling.

I was told that if I worked hard enough my spelling would improve. I started believing the criticisms.

Yet I was curious and wanted to see if I was still dyslexic. I took the test at a government hospital and got a score of 1.6. If you have a score above 1 you have dyslexia.

I’m still trying to accept the fact that I’m dyslexic. I don’t want to use dyslexia as an excuse for being bad in school because I do feel that I don’t push myself hard enough. I was honestly ashamed to have dyslexia to the point where I didn’t tell people, except for close family members and friends.

I was afraid they would treat me differently.

It is also the lack of understanding some people have about dyslexia that worries me. Honestly, I don’t even know what it means to be dyslexic but I’m learning as I go.

My mom always told me being dyslexic isn’t a bad thing. It just means you think and process things differently from others.

In that sense, I’m different, just like everyone else.

Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing, and spelling difficulties. 5 – 10% of the population is estimated to have dyslexia, however, this number can be as high as 17%. Unfortunately, many students are left undiagnosed, hence, they are seen as “stupid”. To get a taste of being dyslexic, check out this website.


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