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Personal Stories

My Life with Dyslexia

By: Arthur Stockdale

When I started school in 1948 the idea of dyslexia was not known. Every year on my report cards the teachers said that I was a "bright student" but that I was just not "applying myself" or "not concentrating" and my parents went along with the teachers. I went to military schools around the world as my father was in the Air Force so there was never enough time in one place to see a pattern.

My sister was able to bring home A's and B's with little effort, I would struggle to bring home C's and D's and my parents would just say "why can't you do what your sister is doing" or "you're not applying yourself". After repeated years of this, I thought that there must be something wrong with me and I did give up trying.

I never was able to do "speed reading" or read for "total comprehension" as the schools pushed for at that time. I would have to read word for word and sometimes sound out the word to understand what was being said.

Many times while talking with my parents or my teachers I would be able to verbalize the problem correctly but would be asked why I could not do it right on paper. No test was allowed to be in a verbal form. This was another reason that my teachers and parents thought I was not trying hard enough or was "just plain lazy".

I graduated from high school in 1965 but thought that I did not have the "Smarts" to go to college. I had no idea (as I have now found) that the problem existed because the homework was written by the teacher on the board then I had to copy it down on note book paper and that I was be transposing the numbers.

It wasn't until I went in the military in 1965 that I had any idea that I had a problem. I would transpose flight numbers on the schedule board. Then after I got out of the military and started in industry, I would be called every week by accounting about job numbers recorded on timesheets (numbers reversed) and work instructions that I would write (letters transposed & spelling).

I have had several job changes due to problems with numbers and letters, math and reading comprehension. And I still read each word and sometime must re-read whole lines to understand the meaning.

This condition, along with the reaction of teachers, parents along with sisters led to isolation and depression along with a negative feeling of self worth. I attempted suicide, several times growing up and during high school and once when I was about 50 because of depression and not being able to get ahead.

Now, at age 60, with the help of my wife and my church I realize that I have always been a person of value and am learning to accept and deal with my dyslexia.

Currently I am enjoying early retirement and finding ways of staying busy around the house, outside in the yard and learning new things from the internet.