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Dyslexia: The Gift that is Considered a Problem

 

Introduction

My journey

This thesis is very personal for me.

To this day l remember standing at the window in my kindergarten class looking out at the snowflakes. I was a little lonesome because my sister and cousin had started school in summer. Up until then they had gone to kindergarten with me. As I stood there I was telling myself that I wanted to be good in school. I imagined myself knowing how to read and write. That made me happy.

One and a half years later I started first grade and reality caught up with me. My schoolmates learned to read and write quickly. They could even do math. It took me more than a year to be able to do any of it. I remember finding solutions for this. Copying the answers for math problems from my neighbor comes to mind. I also tried to improve my grades by doing extra work. But the teacher had not assigned it and the next day I got yelled at. I promised myself I would never do extra work again.

After two and a half years my mom saw how I struggled in public school and switched me to a Waldorf School. She knew from personal experience what it feels like to be stuck in a system that thinks you are too stupid to learn.

In the beginning, I was better in my new school since my old school had been further along with the curriculum. That felt very good because I had never had that feeling before. But switching schools did not really solve any of my problems. I still could not read, spell or do math as well as the others. And soon I found myself with a tutor, then two, three and finally four tutors every week, all for different subjects.

My loving mom gave me ginseng tea in the morning to help me stay focused.

            Everyone thinks, “If he only paid attention, he could do this.” But I never had the feeling that I understood anything better than before. Very soon I found myself in the group of students that did not do well. We always received different work from the others. I felt different and dumb. Soon I was frustrated and tried to find reasons to stay home. Every morning I told my mom I was sick because I did not want to go to school. Of course I had to go anyway. The teachers thought through pushing me, I would do better. What they did not realize was that pushing did not help me understand; it depressed me.

But my mother never gave up and always looked for solutions for me. Some did not work. Some I did not accept because I knew they would not work, because nothing ever had. Finally we heard about a new method of learning. It was about learning with my abilities instead of against them. We went for an interview and half way through my mom and I started to cry. It all sounded so simple. I was scared this would not work either and so was my mother. I was afraid that again something I put hard work into would turn out not to solve my problems. In the end I agreed to this, to make my mom happy again.

Half way through my first week of work I started changing my mind. I was now doing it for me and not my mother. I felt comfortable working because for the first time somebody besides my family gave me positive feedback and believed in me and knew that I could be much more than just a garbage collector when I grew up. My old goal came back: to be a good student. I decided, “If I ever get the chance to start fresh, I will be a good student.”

Two years later I got that opportunity. I left my old school in Germany and came to High Mowing in the United States. The teachers here believed in me and accepted me for the person I am. I brought with me my new tools for learning and because no one knew about my past struggles, I was just like anyone else. I did not get different work from the others and I became a good student. Now I’m on my way to college.

This thesis shows how a dyslexic deals successfully with school and his daily environment. In that sense it is about my personal quest to become the person I want to be: Successful in school and most importantly, in life.

©  Matthias Füll,  2010