Monday, November 18, 2013

Life as a Dyslexic: Learning to Advocate

Dyslexic students require educational accommodations to achieve their potential. Accommodations are changes that help a student overcome or work around their disability. They help a child learn.  According to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, “accommodations represent the bridge that connects him to his strengths and, in the process, allows him to reach his potential. By themselves, accommodations do not produce success; they are the catalyst for success.” Accommodations are outlined in either an Individualized Learning Plan (IEP) or a 504. I have a 504. A 504 plan is a legal document that specifies the accommodations a student should receive. The kinds of accommodations I have are for things like the provision of extra time for tests and a quiet room.

I am learning to advocate for myself. I need to learn to do this because I will have to do this for myself in college. It isn’t easy to do. Some teachers are very helpful and are willing to work with me so that I can do my best work. It is important to be respectful but it requires me to remind teachers of what I need according to my 504.  For example, I may need to remind a teacher that I need extra time on a test. This isn’t easy to do. My experience through the years has been that most teachers want to help you. When an issue arises that is outside of my 504 or contradicts it, I need to talk to my parents to help advocate for me. I have had a recent experience where the teacher called me to the front of the class. It was very quiet at the time. The teacher told me that I was smarter than the accommodation allowed and that I just needed to try harder. She told me that when I used this accommodation during the first grading period, she gave me an “A”. Last grading period she gave me a “B” when I used the accommodation and if I continue to use it, she “would see to it that I failed the class.” I was so embarrassed because I knew the class heard the conversation. After class, someone asked me if they heard it right, that she was really going to fail me. It was the first time that I ever had a teacher deny me of my accommodations. It was so humiliating and made me feel very uncomfortable. I knew that this was a situation that I needed to share with my parents.

It isn’t easy to be a dyslexic. I have to work extremely hard to do well. Due to the fact that dyslexia isn’t a visible disability like other disabilities, many people just don’t understand it. There is a lot of misinformation about dyslexia and people think you just aren’t trying hard enough when in fact, you have to work five to six hours every night on homework. Many people think we see letters backwards. There is a real need for more dyslexia awareness. It will make life easier for dyslexic students.

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