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Dyslexia and My Desire to Give Back

special-needs-stories-support-keyboardGrowing up with dyslexia has been a real struggle, but over the years I have found ways to overcome my disability. With the help of my parents and teachers I have become extremely successful in school. All the help I have gotten gives me a desire to give back to my community and other kids with disabilities. What has made me successful in overcoming my dyslexia was my parents’ emphasis on self-advocacy and hard work. I have always been told that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Whenever I needed more time on my tests, help on homework or papers, questions answered, to stay after school for more help, or extended time on projects, I would always ask for it. If I was never taught to self-advocate there is no way I would be where I am today.

After 9th grade I was moved out of my special education classes and into regular classes. Last year I took Spanish 1 and 2. I finished Spanish 1 with an A and Spanish 2 with a C. My advisor offered to let me take Spanish 2 pass/fail, but I wanted to prove that I was capable of doing the work on my own. I am aware that a C is not a good grade but I did not get a C because I was slacking, it was just an extremely hard class for me. I am still taking normal academic classes, including Engineering and Honors Calculus.

Gryphin Kelly, an Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Scholarship Finalist in 2011, took to heart his parents' lesson that self-advocacy and hard work were essential components to success as a person with dyslexia. Perseverance helped Gryphin find success in the classroom and on the lacrosse field, and now he is determined to bring a message of hope to others with learning disabilities.
There are plenty of kids like myself who have dyslexia and other disabilities. The only difference between some of them and myself is all the support and guidance I have gotten. I know what it takes to be successful and how to help other people with learning disabilities, because I have gone through it. In college, I want to study education. I would be happy teaching any grade but would prefer high school.

High school can be hard for kids with learning disabilities because not only are they trying to figure out how to deal with their disability, but they often have to deal with the derision of their classmates on top of all the ordinary teen drama. If I was able to be a high school special education teacher, I feel that I could make a difference in a lot of kids’ lives. I know what it’s like to try and hide the disability from others because you’re embarrassed. I could teach kids how to overcome that and not be ashamed of their disability. If I became a teacher I would bring much more than just a college education. I would show them everything I was shown in college, everything that worked for me, and that there is no reason to be embarrassed about having a disability. That was the first step in my success: learning that my disability is not really a disability. I’m as smart as anyone else, I just learn differently.

If you’re looking at someone who is involved in their community, look no further. I coach the 1st/2nd, 5th/6th, and 7th/8th grade lacrosse township youth teams. I have been playing lacrosse since I was 10, and I am now 18. I love the sport and love to coach the younger kids. I coach not just because I love the sport, but also because I love working with the kids and seeing them have a great time. It’s the greatest feeling in the world when you know little guys look up to you as a role model.

Lacrosse plays a key part in my life. I excelled on the field and it was a major confidence booster for me. Through lacrosse I made a ton of friends, three of which I know I will be in touch with the rest of my life. The confidence I got on the field carried over to the classroom and helped me in school. Every year I have parents come and tell me that their kids have a learning disability and that the practices and games have really helped them out. Every time I hear this I choke up a bit; it’s just the greatest feeling in the world knowing that I am helping kids out the way I had been helped. Along with coaching the township teams I am involved in a teen community service group.

I have come much further than most thought I ever would. It was thought that there was no way that I would ever get into college or even through high school, but here I am. I want to get through college so I can bring back the lessons I’ve been taught and help others realize hard work pays off, “don’t ever quit” isn’t just words, and perseverance leads to reward. As my dad is always telling me, “This isn’t practice, you’re not getting ready for life. This is your life, live it!"