Recently, I reconnected with a classmate from my high school who is an engineering major at a public 4-year university and has dyslexia. Back in high school, my classmate ended up graduating in the top 5 percent of our class in and being automatically accepted into his dream school. He always worked three times harder than any student in our grade to get to where he was, and puts in triple or quadruple the amount of time the average time a student spends on homework - because he has to.
To gain a little more insight, we discussed the challenges he faces with his dyslexia and how he adapts to it, and here's what I learned.
His approach to classwork is far different than mine or anyone else without dyslexia.
Based on what he says, people without dyslexia often think of it as a minor difficulty.
Take a lab report for example. We're assigned a small essay summarizing the work done in the lab and it can sometimes be expected to be submitted by the end of the lab. This is easy for most students because all that is necessary is to quickly jot down their observations.
For the dyslexic student, he may need to reread his writing several times to check for spelling errors and clarity. He explains that when he writes, although he processes sentences normally in his head, it often is written out of order and he does not discover this until after proofreading several times.
For example, with the sentence, "The dog is running down the street," it may look like, "Down the street the dog ran."
My friend has received several failing grades for this and is sometimes feels condescended to by his teachers as unintelligent.
Science and math courses are easier for him than others.
In comparison to English courses, or anything that requires a lot of writing, science and math are easier for my friend.
Oftentimes, he reads the textbook notes several times and writes them down in its simplest form. Fewer letters make it easier for him to focus on trying to figure out what the text is saying, and deciphering it can be quite frustrating and discouraging.
Longer and more complicated words get more easily jumbled and he often loses his place in the text.
Being a visual learner helps him combat his dyslexia.
He does best by looking at diagrams or watching a lab demonstration, rather than reading through texts. To study, oftentimes he will visualize the words, work really hard to read slowly, and imagine the material in his head.
It is important that we educate ourselves on the challenges people face with learning disabilities. My friend inspires me to work hard and put my best foot forward in academia and in life.