I feel bad for dyslexic children when they try to write to Santa but instead write to Satan.
So, like, if you’re dyslexic can you not read?
And here we go.
I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was six years old. On the first day of first grade my teacher told the class to write our names on a piece of paper and decorate it. I sat next to Ben Howard, he wrote his name in capital letters BEN HOWARD. Then he drew cars all over it. My name is Katherine Albertson, following Ben Howard I also wrote my name in all caps, NOSTREBLA ENIRETHAK. While I was coloring it rainbow the teacher was calling my mom.
So I was sent for neurological testing. I sat in a room for five hours with a lady named Kathy Grabowski. She had white blonde hair and used hand cream generously every five minutes. She was probably a nice lady with dry skin, but at six I thought she was boring and her hand cream usage was gross and as I explained to my mom “unnecessary.”
I had dyslexia. I have dyslexia. And I will have it forever and ever, and I’m okay with that. Because even though it was hard at first, I learned how to read and write. My vocabulary is nothing spectacular but I’d say it’s adequate. And moreover, no one can tell I have dyslexia.
Because I can read. Pretty damn well actually. If we measured good readers and bad readers, I would be in the category of a good reader. I read more books than a lot of people, a lot of people who are not dyslexic. Wow.
And well, I can write too. I like to write. I’m a good writer. Classmates, friends, teachers, all of my fellow human beings are shocked. They’ll say “Are you sure you’re dyslexic?” And I’ll say “Well, I am going to answer your question with another question, are you sure you know what dyslexia is…?”
Didn’t think so.
Dyslexia (as defined by the National Center for Learning Disabilities) is a learning disability. Dyslexics have difficulty with word recognition, decoding and spelling. It is neurological and genetic. And unbeknownst to many, with the proper support and tutoring dyslexics can become good readers and writers.
So I’ve established dyslexics can be functioning members of society (and I’m a pretty good example). And shout out to my fellow functioning dyslexics: Director Steven Spielberg, singer Harry Belafonte, actor Henry Winkler, newscaster Anderson Cooper, basketball player Magic Johnson. I could go on for awhile. Because 15% of Americans are dyslexics, and chances are I’m not the first dyslexic you’ve encountered. But would you be able to tell me out of everyone you know, who is and is not dyslexic?
And modern science tells me my dyslexia is a gift. According to the New York Times article “The Upside of Dyslexia” I have better peripheral vision. So if a car is coming at me and a bunch of non-dyslexics from the far left, guess who’ll jump out of the way first? The article even goes as far to say that dyslexics can be superior learners.
And I’m not bitter or angry about all those jokes. Some of them are clever and a small few are laughable. But hey, dyslexia’s not that bad. I like it; I accept it. I keep my backwards nametag at home in a drawer.
But next time you ask me “So can you like not read?” think, reflect and please feel free to google dyslexia. Most of us can read and write and many of us have done some pretty cool things. Or better yet I could put it in writing for you. And if you need me to, I could read it out loud. Just for kicks.