Dyslexia – The Label Doesn’t Define Me

If you look at the education section of my resume, it will tell you that I graduated from college with a degree in Political Science and a minor in History.  My graduating GPA was a 3.87 on a 4 point scale.  I was a member of the University of Northern Colorado’s Honors Program and the Golden Key International Honour Society.  My resume will also tell you that I graduated cum laude from law school.   I graduated 26th in my class.   As a law student, I was a teaching assistant in Legal Writing and Research Program, a Research Assistant to two professors, an associate on Law Review.   I won a best brief award in the National Tax Moot Court.  My resume will also tell you that I passed the Colorado bar exam in 2006, and thus I have a license to practice law in Colorado.

Some of what the above paragraph tells you is that I am a good student. I have the ability to achieve academically.  I have won awards.  I am lawyer.  And may be a couple other things.  What it does not tell you is that I am also dyslexic.

So what we have is good student, academic achiever, award winner, lawyer, dyslexic.  Or a butch of words that may tell you something, but not really.  It doesn’t tell you that I am a Dad with an awesome baby daughter or that I am married to a great lawyer who is an incredible mom.  It doesn’t tell you that I may be a lawyer, but I really don’t work as a lawyer.  Thus, all we really have is a butch of labels.

Labels, tags, or whatever you want to call them are not inherently bad.  They help categorize and organize our lives. For instance, labeling an object a chair helps to determine how the object is used.  Thus, labels are useful.  It is only when we apply labels to complex things that labels begin to become problematic.  Many things in life are not purely black or white and thus cannot be labeled as one thing to the exclusion of all other things.

People are one of the things we tend to label.  People are complex and thus not well defined by singular labels.  Even applying multiple labels to a person is problematic.  But we apply labels nonetheless because it helps us understand the world and gives definition to the uncertainty in life.

So one of my labels is Dyslexic.  What does that mean?  It means that I have a reading and writing disability.  According to all the tests,  my reading ability is diminished.  But those same tests say, I compensate with a high reading  retention level.  I have difficulty with writing mechanics, like grammar and spelling, which you may have already noticed.  But as a writting instructor once told me, “machanics can be dealt with if you can write substantively well.”  So I try to focus on that part of my writting and work hard to improve my machanics.  At the same time, I have to realize that I will most assuredly make mistakes.  I cannot avoid it!

Of course, the stereotype says that I am stupid or prehaps lazy.  It may also says I have no business being a lawyer.  blah blah blah . . .

Is that the truth?  No.  Why?  Because I am human and complex.  In the end, the labels do not independently define me and together the labels may come closer.  But the only way to understand me or anyone else on this Earth is to know that person.

So my message to you is this.  Use labels, but don’t be blinded by them.

One final note as an aside.  You have noticed that I make mistakes in my writing, which as you can guess is because of my dyslexia.  I could have this work and others edited to remove all, or at least most, of the errors, but I have chosen not to.  I did so because I want this blog to be authentic, which will mean that I will make multiple errors when I write.  Hopefully you can see past those annoyances and connect with the content and find use for the ideas and the information found in my posts.

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3 responses to “Dyslexia – The Label Doesn’t Define Me

  1. i LIKE what you wrote about writing get gives me somthing to go for in my writing thanks ,

    do you do any employment law dealing with dyslexia

    • Thanks Paul. I do not handle employment law or disability matters. If you need an attorney or legal advice, I would suggest finding a local disability law center or disability advocacy group. Another resource would be a local bar association. Finally, you may also want consult the International Dyslexia Associations Web site, http://www.interdys.org/, for other resources.

      Again thank you for you comments and best wishes. Brian

  2. Hello, I’m a seventy year old dyslexic who only a few years ago learned I’m dyslexic. I’ve been writing for the past eighteen years, my third carrier, which continues to be an uphill battle. Personally I don’t like lables, maybe because I’ve had so many. When I first leaned of my afflection, I felt relieved; now I have an excuse for my failings. But I’m far from being a failure. I feel I use this lable as a crutch. And I don’t like crutches either. Anyway, I wanted to commend you on your bravery to write unedited. Something I’m still ashamed to do. Ninty percent of my writing is spent on editing and checking spelling and grammer. I have a blog http://www.rshoop.blogspot.com where I often vent my frustration and comment of writing as a dyslexic. Maybe I should consider writing without editing. I wrote this without using a spell checker. Thanks for your time and space.

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