Thursday, November 19, 2009

Living with dyslexia

Dyslexia is often regarded as a developmental learning difficulty but I would like to think of it as learning difference.

If you’ve been reading my blog, I would never have come across as a dyslexic. The fact is I am. I’ve had to contend with learning difficulties in school because the traditional educational setting just do not recognize the possibility of children learning in a different way from their peers. It is especially so in the Malaysian educational setting where students learn by rote. It was exceptionally hard for me, thus I am almost always among the last in class during my school years. That’s not to say that I’m stupid. Far from it, actually. I won’t blow my own trumpet and say I’m exceptionally intelligent either. It is just that I do better at some subjects, languages and arts specifically, and just can’t understand other subjects. I was always the top scorer in school for English and Bahasa Malaysia so the teachers are always perplexed by the rest of my results. I have never had to sit down and study when it came to languages and arts. It all just came naturally. By the time I was in secondary school, I was helping some of my classmates with their homework. However, being good in languages is not enough to make it in life. My parents, worried for my future, sent me to tuition after tuition in the hope that my results would improve. That didn’t work, obviously, and I hated those after-school tuition sessions fervently. It was such a surprise to everyone that I even managed to scrape through my exams.

At that time, students were put into two categories, the smart ones and the not-so-smart ones. No one had any inkling about learning disabilities then. It’s a different world today, thank goodness because my daughter was recently diagnosed as a dyslexic too. I’m not too worried about her diagnostic because frankly, I don’t see dyslexia as a disability. I see it as more of a gift because dyslexics also happen to be very creative people. At a time when everyone wants to “think out of the box”, no one can do it better than dyslexics. Can you imagine what a boring world this would be without dyslexics? If dyslexic luminaries such as Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, Lee Kuan Yew, Richard Branson and countless others can achieve such great heights of success, dyslexia can only be described as a gift.

When I am confronted by mothers who revel in discussing the number of As their children got in their last exam, I am comforted by what Sir Jackie Stewart said, “You be nice to people with dyslexia because one day you might be working for them”. That just about makes my day.


Jovenus said...

If people with dyslexia can achieve such great feats then it cannot be said to be a disability! on the contrary, it's a gift. A gift of being successful and talented is a gift from God. I scored a lot of A's in school, always top in class, yet I don't see much going on for me in my life (yet!) :( It doesn't matter how you do in school, really. You are doing great as it is Sharon.

Sharon said...

Thank you so much Jovenus. That's the first compliment I've received for dyslexia! I'm proud and I'm happy - that for me is enough of a success.