Sunday, February 21, 2010

Am I to be Blamed...Can't Read but I do Understand

               One day my English teacher called me to read aloud the textbook. When I told her, "No mam, thank you," she came annoyed and blushed. She thought I was acting smart, and told me so. I kept calm, and that got her upset and very much upset. We must have spent ten minutes trying to solve the problem, and finally she got so red in the face I thought she'd blow up. She told me, "I should see you after class, Miel".
Maybe someone like me was a new thing for that teacher. But she wasn't new to me. I've been through scenes like that all my life. You see, even though I'm eighteen and senior high school, I can't read because I have dyslexia. I remember when I was in grade four I was told to read but I was given books to read and leave in the corner, they thought I was reading then, but I am not. Unless you sit with me and guide me I can read but without anyone guide me it takes me sometime to read even a single word or phrase.
             My family began to suspect I was having problems almost from the first day I started school. My father says my early years in school were the worst years of his life. They weren't so good for me, either. As I look back on it now, I can't find the words to express how bad it really was, I wanted to die. I'd come home from school screaming, "I'm dumb. I wish I were dead!"
             I guess I couldn't read anything at all then- not even my own name- and they tell me I didn't talk as good as other kids. But what I remember about those days, is that I couldn't swim, and I wouldn't learn to ride a bike, because no matter what anyone told me, I knew I'd fail.
             Sometimes my teachers would try to be encouraging. When I couldn't read the words on the board they'd say, "Come on, Miel, you know dumb was how the kids treated me. They'd make fun of me every chance they got, asking me to spell my name, my four letters name or something like that. Even if I knew how to spell it, I wouldn't; they'd only give me another word. Anyway, it was awful.because more than anything I wanted friends. On my birthday when I blew out the candles I didn't wish I could learn to read; what I wished for was that the kids would like me.
             With the bad reports coming from school, and with the meaning about wanting to die and how everybody hated me, my parents began looking for help. That's when the testing started. The school tested me; the child-guidance center tested me; private psychiatrists tested me.Everybody knew something was wrong-especially me.
             It didn't help much when they stuck a fancy name onto it. I couldn't pronounce it then; I was only in second grade- and I was ashamed to talk about it. Now it rolls off my tongue, because I've been living with it for a lot of years-dyslexia.
             All through elementary grade it wasn't easy. I was always having to do things that were "different," things the other kids didn't have to do. I had to go to a child psychiatrist, for instance.
One summer my family forced me to go to a center for children with reading problems. I hated and afraid the idea, but center training turned out pretty good, and I had a good time. I met a lot of kids who couldn't read and somehow that helped. The principal of the center said I had a higher I.Q. than 90% of the population. I didn't believe him.
            About the worst thing I had to do in fifth and sixth grade was to go to special education class in another school in our place. A school bus picked me up, and I didn't like that at all. The bus also picked up emotionally disturbed kids and retarded kids. It was like going to school for the retarded. I always worried that someone I knew would see me on that bus. It was a relief to go to the regular senior high school.
Life began to change a little for me then, because I began to feel good about myself. I found the teachers cared; they had meetings about me and I worked harder for them for a while. I began to work on the paper art, draw a painting that the teachers said were pretty good. Also, I got an invitation letter for the debating team. I could speak well without fear and very much confidence with fluency and bright ideas.
                At high school the teachers are good and everyone is trying to help me. I've gotten honors in some marking periods and I've won a letter on the cross-country team. Next quarter I think the school might hold a show of my instance, every time there is writing in the class,I get up and go to the special education room. Kids ask me where I go all the time. Sometimes I say, "to Outerspace."
                Homework is a real problem. During free periods in school I go to  the special room and staff members read assignments to me. When I get home my mother reads to me. Sometimes she reads an assignment into a tape recorder, and then I go to my room and listen to it. If we have a novel or something like that to read she reads it out loud to me. Then I sit down with her and we do the assignment. She'll write, while I talk my answers to her. Lately I've taken to dictating into a tape recorder, and then someone-my father, a private tutor, or my mother-encoded what I've dictated. Whatever homework I do takes someone else's time, too. That makes me feel bad.
                We had a big meeting in school the other day- ten of us, five from the guidance department, my private tutor, my parents, and me. The subject was me. I said I wanted to go to college, and they told about colleges that have facilities and staff to handle people like me. That's nice to hear.
                As for what happens after college, I don't know and I'm worried about that. How can I make a living if I can't read? Who will hire me? How will I fill  up the application form? The only thing that gives me any courage is the fact that I've learned about well-known people who couldn't read or had other problems and still made it. Like Albert Einstein, who didn't talk until he was four and flunked math.Like Leonardo da Vinci, who everyone seems to think had dyslexia.
               I've told this story to my favorite one, who always there when I needed her most. Who always do all my unfinished task, who have no fear and worries about my shortcomings. Who always ease my pain, my worries and tension. She who next to my mom who I love her most. She is the only person who understand me. And I told her to write this for me. I want the whole world to know that I am still pushing myself to read and excel in reading.I've told this story because maybe some teacher will read it and go easy on a student in the classroom who was what I've got. Or maybe some parent will stop nagging their child, and stop calling him lazy and dumb. I remember, when I was in my grandmother's house because my mom was so busy in her work and my dad too. When I can't read she pinch me and get her long stick and stabbed me anywhere she likes and telling me, "your lazy, dumb and Idiot!"I am not lazy or dumb and not even idiot, I am sick and needs help.
               I cherished the moment when I am with Yaassmeen, Thanks to God He send me a person like her as my private tutor, my angel!, I rather say. She who encourage me to be brave and not to be lazy. She is the only person I entrust my story. Never told a child that she or he is lazy or dumb. Maybe he's not lazy or dumb. Maybe he or she can't read and doesn't know what's wrong, maybe he or she's scared, like I was. Maybe... when you're reading this... I am with Him and I know I've done my very best, proving myself that at least I try to excel in reading. When I received the award during the recognition, "best in reading", I was very happy then. I know even I leave in this world I prove to myself and to my parents that I am no longer scared, that I can beat anyone. I have so many dreams to fulfill but life for me is too short. I was diagnosed for brain cancer and any moment my eyes will closed but with her, with Yaassmeen.. I want to tell the whole world... no kids is lazy and dumb.
                Fear and worries that is the reason why sometimes were silent.But this time, I am not scared, I am brave to face my destiny. I hope and pray in the next world life for me is no longer painful. I wish to continue what I have started now that I know I can read but we cannot stop what would be our fate. For one last word, I thank all the people who save and challenge me. Am I to be blamed? maybe not but I prove to myself I can do the task. It is just a matter of belief and confidence.And to the most, to Him who always open to hear and listens to our problems, our God.- mahaliahscent