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Winning the Battles with Dyslexia

special-needs-stories-spell-out-dyslexiaI was adopted at the age of three weeks old. When my adoptive parents brought me home they probably thought that this was going to be the perfect baby girl who would complete their family. However, from the earliest time that I can remember I always felt like something was not exactly right. I was a very talkative child, and I think society sometimes bestows a more positive connotation on outgoing children, in contrast to shy children. So I started life out on a high note. I remember adults telling my parents that I was a "very bright child." However, I never could quite figure out why they were saying this. I did feel different — but certainly not bright. At the age of two or three my parents purchased picture flashcards with common objects like dog, tree, house, flower — they wanted me to understand how to recognize that the letters had different sounds. This did not make a lot of sense to me, so I just memorized the shapes of the letters and the corresponding pictures. All of the adults thought that I could "read" the names of the pictures and everyone thought that this was great. Again, I couldn't figure out why this was so great. I thought to myself that this was certainly not what reading must be about.

Porsha Buck's story follows her struggles with dyslexia and her goal from an early age to become a doctor. Porsha was the 2007 Runner-Up for the Anne Ford Scholarship and a great example of a learning disabled student who accepts challenges with the confidence she can always overcome them.

When I was about five and enrolled in a new kindergarten, in a new city, and in a new state, I started to feel even more "out of place." Many of the other kids could pronounce words and read small books. Not only could I not figure out how to pronounce words or sound them out, but I tried to read from right to left and only sometimes from left to right. I wasn't sure why the direction was important. In fact, I wasn't even sure what the word "direction" meant. Another example of this lack of understanding was when I was enrolled in a Taekwondo class at about the same time. On the second or third day, when the instructor said we would be kicking to the left or right or over the board or under the board, I knew I was in serious trouble, since these terms had no meaning to me. I had hoped that being right about 50 percent of the time was good enough. It was not — the instructor was constantly upset with me, and I ended up having to find a different sport.

My frustrations with the educational system and lack of understanding have continued throughout my thirteen years of public schooling. Teachers, counselors, and other officials have constantly told me that I should try harder, concentrate more, not make stupid mistakes, check my work, listen better, and most discouraging of all -- that "if you have modifications or accommodations, that would not be fair to the rest of the children." The most recent example of this includes my request for extended time accommodations on the ACT test. Although complete documentation and testing was presented that indicated dyslexia as a diagnosis, along with information that showed I made a 32 on the Reading portion of ACT Web site practice test when untimed and a 20 on the Reading portion of the test when timed, my request was still denied.

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