By Tara Higgins
One in five people in the U.S. lives with dyslexia every day. That’s 20 percent of the country’s population. But of that 20%, an increasing number of affected people have overcome all odds, and surpassed all expectations.
Dyslexia is a disorder that affects mostly young children, which causes difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, or other symbols, without affecting overall intelligence. It makes it harder for kids to learn to communicate in writing and succeed at quicker rates in school.
But no matter how well you think you know someone, it’s not always easy to identify Legend students with dyslexia.
“It’s like any other student,” said Legend’s Learning Support Services’ Kevin Matthews. “I’ve seen parents with dyslexic students give them outside tutoring, but it runs the whole spectrum.”
“The ones that work hard are going to be successful,” Matthews said. “[These students] are capable of anything.”
One of these students is senior and National Honors Society President Natasha Williams. Williams has risen far above common expectations for dyslexic students to earn a 4.125 GPA, and she is also a successful AP student.
Williams was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in kindergarten. “They wanted to take action soon so I could learn how to cope with it early,” she said. “I’ve typically heard of kids having difficulties with early reading and learning the alphabet, but some may not find out until later in life.”
But Williams refuses to accept any accommodations outside of what is expected of a student who does not have dyslexia. The important thing is that “I have accepted it, and I do not to let it hinder my academics,” she said.
In order to prevent dyslexia from taking over her studies, Williams must resolve to work even harder to achieve her goals. But, in the end, “I am able to perform at the same level as my peers.”
Matthews believes the key to overcoming dyslexia is to “not let it define you.” Anything is possible.
“If [dyslexic students] want to do something, then no one is telling them they can’t,” he said. “Don’t be ashamed of it.”
Since Legend students are offered a variety of extra credit options and outside help from teachers, tutors, and even peers, it is easy for a student with dyslexia to succeed in their schoolwork.
For now, Williams is set on a path to a career in business, but she is also interested in architecture. One of Williams’ greatest inspirations is her father, who is also dyslexic. “He is proud to see me overcome it,” she said.
Both Williams and Matthews would agree that a “strong work ethic” is instrumental for those students wishing to succeed.
“You can pass anything if you set your mind to it,” she said. “My disability is something that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. I believe that it is only a hindrance if I let it become one.”