With great enthusiasm I belted out the Alphabet song.
I’d heard it sung since my earliest memory. Regardless of it’s meaning, I could sing that song. Singing the “ABC’s” along with my friends in kindergarten gave me the delicious taste of belonging.
But all of that changed when I entered first grade. In first grade the alphabet became more important. As my friends and classmates were mastering the shapes and sounds. I was tongue tied, and stumbled over each letter. With every failed effort to spell, alarms would go off in my head. Something was wrong! The more I wanted to succeed and yet couldn’t, the more worried I became. By second grade, when called on to read aloud my face flushed and I quivered helplessly. I knew something was wrong with me. Unfortunately I was a dyslexic child born in the 50’s. Therefore my learning disability went undiagnosed, labeled a “slow learner” and left alone to deal with it.
At age six, I experienced the fear and alienation of being different. By seven, I was sitting on the outside of the rest of my little world. In the playground and after school I was still me, but in school, I was a lost me. And being out there feeling very alone did not feel good.
Here I faced my first, very real predicament.
With an inability to grasp the letters, put two words together or read, my growing angst turned my attentions to what was happening around me. I started scratching for information by any means. Songs, pictures, language, stories told, … anything that might help me understand and retain. My instincts kicked in where my disabilities had left off. As the years went by things became more complicated. The questions that needed answers were endless. Where will I find a resource? How will I find that information? Coming up with tools by the moments to get me through the next day. I learned to stay focused and listen to glean everything I could in every classroom. Retaining what I could from discussions, charts, maps, photographs and illustrations. It was a ragtag method, but it had to work and therefore, I made it work. Remarkably, each year I matriculated. When I walked onto the podium to accept my HS diploma along with my classmates, no one asked me how I got there!
In hindsight, it was remarkable that I managed to make it all the way through High School without reading a book! My unwillingness to be left behind ignited incredible determined. My mind learned to compensate for what was amiss and unconventional thinking accompanied my morning orange juice as I discovered there were other ways to survive.
Ultimately, trusting my intuitive and creative side, was my greatest resource. These “Other” intelligences were the ones I cultivated, not the schools’ version of intelligent, or the colleges, more the street survival version of intelligence. But for myself, no matter what you call it, my knowledge and my insights served me and I grew.
After graduation, I found out I was dyslexic. I learned to read, received a Masters in Education, taught children with special needs, then switched careers, began a design and marketing studio, became a consultant, and most recently wrote a children’s book!
I am aware of the multiple intelligences we humans have available to us. The more we are challenged to think differently, the more we discover new and remarkable ideas. When I find myself standing on a precipice, I imagine the possibilities!