SMART, NOT DUMB: Growing Up With Dyslexia


What is is like to be dyslexic?

I work with children who have dyslexia using the Orton-Gillingham approach, but it isn’t very often that I get a chance to interview dyslexic adults about their own journey and challenges. I’ve met people over the years who are steeped in studying how to remediate reading for people with dyslexia, and yet they fall into a trap where they get lost in their research. When this happens, they forget the people who are struggling with dyslexia on a daily basis, or those learning to help others with dyslexia. Even worse, some choose to look past it.  Do you know anyone like this? You simply cannot overlook or brush off someone’s feelings for the sake of being first in research or particular methodology. Feelings matter.

I just happened to be chatting with another mom recently while my daughter was in her ballet class, and dyslexia came up. She mentioned how she was dyslexic and we had a great conversation about it! I truly believe that when we take the time to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, we open the window to deeper understanding and empathy. Through the power of social media, I have stepped into those shoes over the years, and am forever grateful to meet those folks who’ve shared their personal experiences with dyslexia.

Recently, I came across an Instagram page called Dyslexia Problems. Dean, a highly skilled woodworker, runs the page and is also dyslexic. I asked him to share his experiences with dyslexia and now I have his permission to share it with you. None of the following has been edited by me at Dean’s request.

The following post is in his own words. This is his own personal experience. Please comment below if you have been touched by his story. Please be sure to visit his Instagram page, Dyslexia Problems. Dean is on a new mission to educate the public about dyslexia. Wish him well and help spread the word. Thank you!


What is it like to be dyslexic?


Dean’s Story
“So I’ve been asked what it’s like growing up with dyslexia. Well I can honestly say if I never went to school to learn I wouldn’t have noticed. For the most part reading comprehension and spelling were my weaknesses. So if I never had to read or spell I wouldn’t have known I had a problem. But life doesn’t work out that way and I went to school. Half way through grade 6 (11yrs old) I had a reading level of a early grade 2 (6yrs old). I loved school. I am an extremely social person, love everything about being social, so school was fun at recess, lunch , before and after. It just sucked when I had to read and answer questions about what I read, to the point where I could make myself so anxious that I would vomit, making my mum keep me home from school. My mum  and dad who were my biggest advocates knew there was something wrong and would have to force their apparently sick child to try to go to school and if I didn’t feel better after getting to school that I could come home. For the most part I wouldn’t come home except on read comprehension and spelling test days. Then I would get very ill on those days ironically. The problem with Dyslexia and other learning difficulties is you don’t have symptoms like chickenpox or a cold. You just can’t read no matter how hard you try. What you do read or manage to get through reading doesn’t always comprehend so when the questions get asked you can’t answer them, so you feel DUMB and STUPID. I used to love sports day because I was good at that and most of the kids that were good at the academic part of school weren’t the best athletes. So on sports day I felt like the kid who did well, who got A’s in school. Imagine the thing that you can’t do.…
Example playing an instrument, dancing, having rhythm, athletic coordination, math, public speaking, on and on and on. Now imagine if every subject in school you had to do the thing you hated to do, to get through every subject. You no (lol just spelt know-no) that thing you can’t do no matter how hard you try. Well for me that was reading comprehension and spelling. Life was very stressful until my parents fought to get me assessed and I found out I had a learning disability. BEST DAY OF MY LIFE. Yes cause that was the day I found out I wasn’t DUMB or STUPID. I would find out I had a problem called Dyslexia and with help I could learn how to read and comprehend what I read. Little did I know that because of this problem I was extremely gifted in other areas that were much more beneficial in my life then reading comprehension, the fact was that at the same time I had a reading level of a grade 2 (11yrs old) I had 3D visualization that was off the charts. Which has benefitted me as I am a custom woodworking business owner who can look at 2D drawings and see exactly what I’m going to build in 3D in my head, which intern has allowed me to be quite successful in business and life.
Dyslexia doesn’t affect me much since I left school. I try to proof read everything I write but still miss stuff, as you have probably notice. The biggest break I got was my Educational Assessment which got me a designation as being dyslexic.
This is why I have started an Instagram acct called @dyslexiaproblems.
The goal is to teach parents and others who don’t have dyslexia what it feels like.
The final goal is to create a foundation to help kids get the educational assessment which allows them to feel
As I was fortunate enough to get.”


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  1. Great story-thank you! As a parent of two Dyslexic children I can relate to what you have gone through. Neither of my children will open up and talk about their Dyslexia, but I hope one day they will get over the embarrassment they feel and share their story and try to help others.

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