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Setting Goals with Dyslexia and CAPD

special-needs-stories-correct-check-marksAlbert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Nelson Rockefeller, Alexander Graham, Walt Disney, and Charles Schwab are well-known names associated with great achievements in life. I am proud to say I have something in common with these individuals. We all share the learning differences associated with dyslexia.

After two years of little or no progress in school in reading, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). My mother, an educator, knew something was wrong, and I did, too. Even though I was only seven, the diagnosis was a relief to me. I finally knew why I was different from my peers for whom reading and writing came easily.

I set goals for myself while growing up, but by far my first, and most important, personal goal was to become a successful reader. Dyslexia and CAPD delayed my ability to read tremendously. Fortunately, I received early intervention through dyslexia therapy and tutoring which helped me attain my goals to read successfully.


MacKenzie Moody, one of our 2007 Anne Ford Scholarship Honorable Mentions, proves that being diagnosed with dyslexia and central auditory processing disorder does not hinder a student from reaching their goals. MacKenzie discusses her knack for making and exceeding her goals along and how her disabilities have motivated her to become a tutor and role model for other students.

While facing many struggles in my educational career, each hardship has made my successes more rewarding. A goal during my elementary years was to finish a book. I still remember the victory of completing that book. That small "mountain" gave me the strength to climb the bigger ones I continue to face daily. Another struggle has been to receive needed accommodations in my classes, such as taped textbooks, written notes, and extended time for assignments; but with patience and persistence this obstacle was also met. Reading is still sometimes a daunting task because I have to concentrate so hard to decode unfamiliar text or reread the passage several times. However,, with auditory input from the taped texts and by retyping my notes, I have become a successful reader. My struggles to achieve academically have been at times frustrating, but each successful step forward has made me stronger, allowing me to believe in myself more and more.

In elementary school, I was chosen for the SEARCH program, which is the gifted and talented program in my district. This accomplishment baffled me because I thought, "If I could not read well, then how was I gifted?" I asked my mother and she explained that I am gifted because I am smart, creative, and dyslexic. From that moment on, I have thought of my dyslexia not as a burden, but as a gift. It is me and part of who I am.

Every time I faced an obstacle that seemed impassable, I reminded myself of my notable dyslexic peers who have made such differences in our world. One recent obstacle I faced was passing our state-mandated writing test. The ability to communicate on paper through the task of "cold writing" has always been difficult for me and, if given the choice, it is something I would rather do verbally. My goal was to achieve a rating of a three out of a possible four. Proudly I received a four rating on my essay — another victory!

During eighth grade, I began working with students who struggled to read or who needed help with math. Many people might wonder how a dyslexic student could offer help to someone in reading, but I could offer them understanding and hope. For the students who needed help with math, I offered a great deal of help because math is my strength and a subject I love greatly. As a freshman, I was the highest scoring girl on the subject tests in Algebra I. This accomplishment and the consistent urging of my Algebra I teacher gave me the confidence to help other students as an algebra tutor, something I have continued through my senior year. I fulfilled another personal goal last year when I began mentoring three younger dyslexic students, helping to foster their self-esteem and support them through their own academic struggles. Achieving this goal has been especially rewarding for me and mentoring is something that I will continue to pursue. My passion to make a difference for others with learning disabilities will be fulfilled when I achieve the victory of completing my education.

Another personal goal I set for myself is to be ranked within the top ten percent of my class. This was important to me for two reasons: (1) to prove to myself I can compete with my peers academically and (2) to be considered for scholarship opportunities to further my education, so that I can become a doctor and study neurology. The road to the top ten percent has been difficult. I have had to constantly request and use my prescribed accommodations, but I am currently ranked within this elite group of my non-disabled peers. My hard work paid off last year when I was inducted into the National Honor Society. This year I was elected to serve as second vice-president of our chapter and I am very proud that my fellow members gave me the opportunity to serve and represent our group.

My next goal is to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. With my class ranking, admission to UT is certainly within my reach. I know that my academic struggles will continue, and financial obstacles are still a concern. However, I believe that dedication, determination, perseverance, and hard work will allow me to accomplish this goal as well.

My dream as a future neurologist is to initiate research to further the knowledge of the diagnosis and treatment of dyslexia. As a neurologist, I would like to study dyslexia and other learning differences in children. It is because of past research that we now understand more about dyslexia and learning differences and how to address students' multi-sensory learning needs. My main goal in life is to beat the odds associated with dyslexia so I can help other dyslexic children overcome their obstacles and achieve their dream as well.