Just Frances

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The genius theory

This entry was posted on Friday, May 10th, 2013 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: writing, words, stubborn, school, reading, rant, phd, olden days, ocd, geek, fear, ego, crazy, confession

I took a bit of a self-esteem stumble after being pushed by some hurtful words over the weekend. I really let the words get to me and I started to doubt my goals because of them. They’re just words, but it seems that words have always been at the root of my self-esteem issues.

You see, I am dyslexic. And that, coupled with early speech delays, meant that growing up I was referred to as stupid and, in the eyes of some, un-teachable. Sadly, those views are still held by some people. And, sadly, some people I know think that I am, in fact, learning disabled.

Over the weekend, I was informed that I am being selfish by pursuing a PhD; just as I’d been selfish in pursuing my undergraduate and graduate degrees. The reasoning is simple: Higher education is a valuable resource and when places at higher learning institutions are given to people with learning disabilities, it means that someone without a learning impairment is being denied a chance for an education.

The thing is, some people believe that dyslexia means stupid. Some people believe that a person with dyslexia is unable to learn; that someone with dyslexia is not capable of intellectual pursuits. Unfortunately, some of those people are dyslexic themselves and they believe those things to be true because no one ever helped them to see otherwise.

But I’m here to tell you that those people are wrong.

Dyslexia doesn’t mean someone is stupid. It doesn’t mean someone is unable to learn, unable to spell, or unable to read. And it certainly doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t deserve all the same educational rights as everyone else.

Yes. I am dyslexic. But that just means I have to work a little bit harder to get my thoughts out of my brain. I am most certainly not stupid though. Nor do I have a diminished ability to learn. I think Ive proven that on more than one occasion.

It saddens me when someone says that they have dyslexia and therefore “can’t” do something because I believe, in many of those cases, they lack self-esteem and support—not intelligence and ability. It saddens me when people continually suggest that people with dyslexia are “bad spellers” or “can’t read well” because I know that those things don’t have to be true! And when people learn that I am dyslexic, it’s almost expected that I will get things wrong.

So I work really hard to spell things correctly. Yes, spelling and grammar are hard work for me, but getting it right is worth the extra time for me. And when I do get it wrong (which does happen, I admit it) I cringe when I’m informed that it’s “because I’m dyslexic”. Because, sometimes, it’s just because I was typing so fast that my fingers stumbled over the keyboard; just like a “normal” person’s do every day.

But—guess what!—I get it right most of the time. It’s hard work and I stress out about it, but I do it. Because I can. Because I am not learning disabled. I am a smart woman who just happens to have a brain that works in a slightly kooky manner.

Of course, if those naysayers are right and dyslexic people are unable to learn as well as others, then I’d like to propose that I am, in fact, a genius of Einstein-like proportions. OK, I’m not as clever as Einstein was, but—in this theory—that’s because I'm dyslexic. If I wasndyslexic, can you imagine how bloody brilliant I’d be? We’d be talking Noble Prize, baby!

But, then, Einstein was dyslexic, too. (Did you know that?) So if the idea that dyslexic people will always be less intelligent than others is true, then can you imagine how much smarter Old Albert would have been had he not been dyslexic? Wow! He could have cured world hunger in his sleep!

The point, the rambling and slightly emotional point, is that I am just as deserving as an education as the next person—with or without my dyslexia—because I am intelligent and because I am capable of learning. I know that some of my supporters today were some of my doubters from the past, I guess I’m just frustrated that some of my doubters still won’t believe that I am intelligent; they still won’t believe that I am more than capable of greatness. And that, to me, is a sign of their ignorance.

Comments

I can’t believe at this stage in your life that anyone would even remotely suggest that to you!! I do believe you are right in that it’s a sign of their ignorance.
As with any “disability” it doesn’t mean you can’t, just means it may be more challenging & who doesn’t love a good challenge??!! Can you imagine if I would have stopped & accepted that “I may never hear again” after my surgery to actually help the matter failed??!! Neither can I, with my 1st & only child being 1yr oldand a full life ahead of me that certainly was not an option to accept. Now in 1wks time I will hear better than I ever have naturally! Of course this is not like getting through challenges that something like Dyslexia brings but the point is the same, you either accept it & do nothing or you figure out how to get around it~
I for one have never known you to be an “accept it & do nothing” kind of person. If anything you deserve to get that PHD more than any “normal” person you may be displacing the chance since you have worked very hard to get there!!

by Ramona at 7:30pm (GMT) on May 16th, 2013

Thanks, Ramona. I think that the most frustrating thing is that the people who remind me that I am less-than-capable are the people I’ve known the longest. Yes, they witnessed (and teased/mocked) first-hand the struggles I had with my speech and they know full-well that I spent years struggling with dyslexia. But I would have thought that, having since seen me overcome and succeed, that they’d be more supportive. But, I suppose that in the eyes of some people I know, I will always be the ‘learning disabled’ one. It’s sad, but that’s my reality.

Sadly, it’s not my dyslexia that will prevent me from getting my PhD - it’s a lack of money!

by Just Frances at 9:05am (GMT) on May 18th, 2013

You’re lovely.

by RST at 9:51pm (GMT) on May 24th, 2013

Thank you… :)

by Just Frances at 7:14am (GMT) on May 25th, 2013

I had no idea you were dyslexic and always thought you were extremely smart. Whoever says these things to you has no knowledge about dyslexia what-so-ever. It sounds like they are jealous if you ask me. You have all these challenges in life, yet you succeed at whatever you set your mind to. I’m guessing that you most likely have been more successful then they have been on their own. If they have had success, it probably was inherited because people who have truly worked for what they have aren’t in the habit of putting hard working people down. They put people down because they have self esteem issues about their own success or lack thereof. Just my two cents :)

by Sharon B at 8:37am (GMT) on June 19th, 2013

To be honest, the people who most often question my ability and intelligence are those who never went onto further education - and some of them may well me lashing out in jealousy. But I get comments about dyslexia meaning I’m less capable from well-educated people, too. It just seems that there is still a great deal of misunderstanding around the condition.

I think that the most upsetting thing for me, however, is to hear other people with dyslexia explaining that they “can’t” do things because of it. They accepted what they were told about it being a disability and never fought against it. I don’t blame them because I know it’s hard to buck a societal understanding, but I do feel bad for them because I think many people have allowed their abilities to be ignored and they’ve settled for less than they could be.

I hope that future generations will be treated better!

by Just Frances at 10:05am (GMT) on June 19th, 2013

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