This past weekend I had the privilege of being the emcee at the International Dyslexia Association Annual State Conference. I was afforded the opportunity to introduce a few of my favorite colleagues who were presenting but I also got to introduce a couple of kiddos who graduated from the Dyslexia Centers for Children who were speaking as part of a panel discussion. No matter how many times I bump into alumni students I am always impressed with how composed, articulate, and confident they have become.
One of the strengths in those with dyslexia is the sheer determination they demonstrate on a daily basis it seems - determination to learn, succeed, and be seen in a way that reflects their true abilities. The young adults who spoke as part of the panel explained their earliest connections with dyslexia and how it impacted their lives. They also explained what helped them to be successful academically and what they would like to see changed in the future. Through tears, laughter, and a myriad of other emotions, they were able to share with conference attendees what they want others to understand about dyslexia. Ultimately, they wanted people to understand that even though dyslexia hinders them in some ways, it also empowers them in other ways.
American writer, Dennis Waitley, said “Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.” Our kiddos with dyslexia have plenty of roadblocks and in spite of that, they continue to show up every day with determination and persistence. They will not, and should not, be shut down by anyone. This was reflected in how these young adults spoke so eloquently about their perspective on how dyslexia has impacted them. They spoke very little about the challenges they had experienced but rather about how they adapted and overcame those things through persistence and determination. They shared how, even though they were made to feel inferior, inadequate, and dumb, they focused on their strengths, had strong role models, and were persistent in achieving their goals.
As I listened to each of them share their experiences and their wishes for change, I thought about how successful they have become. They hold positions of honor and recognition at their respective schools. They are admired by their peers and respected by their teachers. They achieve good grades, high honors, and so much more in spite of what some might call a disability. John D. Rockefeller said, “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” Our kiddos persevere!