Kids Talk about the Gifts and Challenges of Growing up with Dyslexia on Parent Pep Talk Podcast

When I was in third grade, a teacher I didn't know pulled me out of my reading class and asked, “Do you know what a learning disability is?” I shook my head back and forth. She looked me right in the eye, smiled, and said, "It's a gift. You see things differently and you learn things differently than most people, but different is good.”

To be honest, that well-meaning teacher and her inspirational advice didn’t really help me at the time. Imagine being terrible at what everyone tells you is one of the most important skills you need to succeed in life. I heard it hundreds of times: Reading feeds the imagination, improves the memory, and, well, I can't remember the other reasons. I knew I had trouble reading. I knew I didn’t feel smart. And I knew that different definitely didn’t feel good.

The Gift of Dyslexia

I have to admit that, reading and writing are still hard for me, but that’s kind of what makes being a writer so rewarding. I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the country speaking to amazing kids about reading and dreaming and being different—talk about a gift. At one school called Riverside, I interviewed an incredible group of kids, who are all dyslexic, for a special episode of The Parent Pep Talk called Discovering the Gift of a Learning Disability—you can find it on iTunes, your podcast app, or at the ParentPepTalk.org.

Listen to Our Episode on Dyslexia

I finished my interview with the kids at Riverside by asking, “If you could choose to be dyslexic or not be dyslexic, what would you choose?”

There was no hesitation. “Dyslexic,” they all yelled.

Why? 

“It’s just so fun and takes you on a different road.”

“It gives you challenges, and I think that’s preparing you for when you’re older.”

“Yeah, there’s challenges of course, but, you can overcome them. It just gives you that extra step and creative mind.”

So if your child has dyslexia, or any kind of learning disability, or just has their own beat or rhythm, please know that even though I didn’t realize it at the time, after all these years, I can tell you without a doubt that my third-grade teacher was right: Different is good and dyslexia, or anything else that makes us unique, is most definitely a gift.