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Don't Call Me Dumb Because I Can't Read

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This is Billy, and he can’t read. He’s not blind, nor stupid – nothing like that. He’s dyslexic. This generally means that he’s physically not able to read or write. Or more precisely, he can do it, but he does it 100 times slower than other people. But don’t feel sorry for him! He’s happy this way. Here’s the story of what happened to him.

His parents always told him that he needed to do the best he could in his studies in order to excel in life. They’re both very successful – his dad is a lawyer and his mom is a physicist, so his future was well defined from birth. He was supposed to become nothing less than a brain surgeon. And indeed he remembers how he could already do a lot even in his early years – maths, science for kids, things like that. The only thing that worried his parents was that he didn’t manage to learn to read. But he was still very small, so they thought that since he was attending school anyway he would get taught there.

When school started, Billy realized straightaway that he was slower than the other kids. It was strange – he had never seemed stupid before; he was generally quick-witted and easily understood anything that was explained to him. But when it came to reading or working with a text of any kind, he seemed to be really slow. For Billy, letters looked like splashes of water that were constantly changing their shape and size. His teachers kept telling him to concentrate, but what was he supposed to do if words were like insects flying off the paper?

Billy remembers the first ever test that he got marks for. He understood it was very important to bring a good mark home to his parents, to show them that he wasn’t stupid. He did his best, but unfortunately managed to answer only 3 questions out of 12 in time. He didn’t understand what had happened – the questions were not hard and he knew the answers, but it just took a lot of time to understand what was written and compose his written answer. He broke into a sweat. The last thing he managed to do was write his name, Bill Bumble, on it. As the teacher looked them over she asked him to stand up and read his name from the paper. “Bill Bumble”, he said. She then insisted that he read it from the paper. With great effort, he read what he had actually written. It was “Bill Dumble”. Everyone laughed at him and he felt so embarrassed. “Dumble” became his nickname from that moment on.

This made Billy sad, and he ended up being mocked all day and getting a D-. He decided not to suffer on his own, and went to see his parents. They frowned when he told them that he had nearly gotten an F, but when he explained his vanishing letter problem, they decided to take him to see an optician. She checked his eyes and confirmed that his vision was perfect, but suggested a visit to another doctor who specialized in learning problems. He was a very nice man who listened to Billy attentively, and then asked him to show him how he wrote. Then Billy said that he could draw what he saw instead. He liked to draw a lot, and it seemed like it was the only thing that he was really good at. He drew things exactly how he saw them.

The doctor told Billy’s parents that their son had a talent, and they seemed very impressed seeing it themselves. He then said that Billy had dyslexia, a chronic condition that can be improved but never cured, and that he needed to find a way to somehow adapt to his studies. He gave recommendations to extent how long he was able to take on a test and to use more audio materials, but after some time at school Billy understood that he still lagged behind, and everyone was still mocking him because of it. He found it hard to concentrate on his subjects, and his marks slipped even more. So his parents enrolled him in another school that specialized in individualized creative teaching.

That’s how he found out that he’s actually pretty smart! He had a tutor who adapted all his subjects to his visual comprehension. He received creative tasks that involved drawing some process or rule instead of describing it in written form, and he was given audiobooks instead of textbooks. And he also took art classes where he became the best straightaway!

Billy is still a long way off from finishing school – he’s now in his early teens. But he already knows what he wants to be without a doubt – he wants to be an artist, because it’s the thing that he enjoys most in his life. Thanks to his dyslexia, Billy now never has to study all those things he’s no good at, and doesn’t have to struggle to find out what he really likes, which is drawing. Now he can say that he’s happy to let those letters fly away - he’s better off without them.

Music by Epidemic Sound:

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