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  • EJ Lee


Intelligence is a complex. Some are off the charts brilliant, some are average, and others are below the standard of society. People live their entire lives obsessed about their IQ score because humankind accepts this as a universal standard of intelligence. Not everyone’s IQ can be measured accurately as it does not conclude someone’s motivation, creativity, curiosity, innovation and kindness are all key components of character traits that are admired and desired. Unfortunately people, like myself who are dyslexic, have a different method to measure our intellect as we must sit and talk with a psychologist for hours in order for them to determine how our brain works. This system consumed twenty-one hours of my life thus far. Repeating the same test throughout my life with various puzzles, a complete biographical timeline and questionnaires all to be summed up into thirteen pages. Strapped to my ankle like a ball in chain, my thirteen pages are forever in mind.

Looking at my evaluation form my name is written on the top of the page dismissing any doubt. Gazing at the pages on the table with a combination of anxiety and annoyance running through my mind. Reaching out to grasp the pages feeling the significant weight that it holds over me. At first glance the text blurs together. Reading closer the text becomes words but the language is different. The tone of the paper is distant and disconnected. Descriptions of my life begin to form, mapping out every milestone. Since the age of seven, my life has been a roller-coaster from changing school every two-three years, being bullied for being different, to finding salvation within myself leading into proactive accountability to finally rise above all odds. Growing up was not easy. Especially before the No Child Left Behind Act, children with dyslexia were over looked, as many teachers did not know how to teach them. Even now many teachers in public school are not equipped to recognize when students are struggling. Imagining a life where I am not dyslexic, how different it would be.

Reading on, the narrative of my life changes into graphs and floating numbers that are meant to define my intellectual abilities. Staring at the numbers pondering what it means. Acronyms appearing left and right like popcorns. Confusion starts to set in as the suspended numbers start to dance. I was diagnosed at the age of seven in 2000. Nearing the end of first grade, a year I barley remember as I hardly learned anything substantial. My teacher never showed that they cared even after I told them that I was dyslexic. Looking back, I feel that my teacher never understood what I was trying to tell her; instead my teacher brushed me aside not even thinking twice of the ramification that she caused.

Remembering when my mother told me that I needed to change schools because the public school I was currently attending refused to help me. She continues to explain that I would not get the proper guidance unless I was behind four grade levels. As any rational person would think it was unacceptable. Over the next five years I attended two different schools still skating by, making little to no progress. Glancing back at the evaluation form it does not show the hardship and suffering that I endured trying to get an education that everyone has a right to. Reading the form, seeing my life plainly written with little to no emotion. Remembering, how I cried everyday, because I did not want to go to school. Daily kids would call me dumb and stupid because they could not understand how someone like myself existed. Ostracized by my peers I never felt so alone yet surrounded by so many people.

Before transferring to another school I never met anyone else with dyslexia. My salvation was around the corner; before I knew it I was attending a school in a different state in the middle of nowhere. Once more, I needed to update my evaluation, six more hours of my life to prove that I needed all the help I could get. This school on my evaluation form should get more credit to my success. My time there is summed up into one paragraph but the effect will last a lifetime. The three years I attended this school was difficult but absolutely necessary.

Imagine yourself at twelve years of age but you only have the capacity of reading at a third grade reading level. I was so far behind it did not seem possible to catch up to where I was supposed to be. Spelling was broken down into phonics in my first year. I was encouraged to read and test my comprehension daily. Math was the only other class that wasn’t reading. Later I was introduced to science and writing. In my last year I took a history class and proceeded to complete high school level classes, as I was technically a freshmen. After attending this school I gained six grade levels within three years, ready to transfer once more as a sophomore entering into officially as high school student.

High school was no different as I was still surrounded by my fellow peers all in a similar boat trying to survive. Three years pass once more, sitting in a small room with a different psychologist recounting my life. Explaining my story, completing puzzles hopefully for the last time. Graduation is around the corner, I feel different. Six years ago I was at the bottom of my class. Now, I am at the top of my class, graduating with high honors, straight-A student accepted into college. I’m on top of the world. It’s amazing what can happen in in six years.

The evaluation form that I hold today was completed when I was eighteen years old, still ringing true, pointing out my flaws, and exposing my weaknesses to anyone willing to read. After all of this time, I often wonder do these thirteen pages still define my intelligence? Having risen above my challenges and surpassing anyone’s expectations, who holds the key to the ball chained to my ankle? It is debilitating having a physical reminder of my limitations after I have accomplished so much. Struggling constantly, as I continue to fight battles even into adulthood. Graduating from college is the greatest accomplishment thus far. Imagining my next graduation is next year is unbelievable. No one knows where your life will take you but one day my evaluation form will wither away into oblivion as I stride everyday to not let it define me.

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