He was about fourteen years old and was in his second year of pre- university education , so definitely not a stupid boy. Unfortunately, let’s call him Paul, he saw this differently. Rarely have I seen such an insecure boy as Paul.
When he had to take a test, he copied all his letters about 3 times, as if he hoped that his mistakes would be less noticeable. Paul had dyslexia and not just a little bit. That I didn’t care, that I would rather ignore all his mistakes and that I see the boy behind it all, completely eluded him.
I never saw Paul again after his school days, but I still see many adults like him. People who keep themselves small, who do not dare to grow in the company where they work. People who do not dare to write for their work or their company. People who in some cases would prefer to make themselves invisible when they have to write or read aloud. And it always hurts my heart a little.
Because just like I once said to Paul, I would like to say to anyone with dyslexia, or other learning disabilities: You’re not stupid! Not really! Something in your brain is making sure that the letters don’t quite do what society thinks they should do. But this says absolutely nothing about your intelligence. Not before and not now. Would you like to try and nail that?
This is a task for schools and society as a whole. How often do you hear that people are annoyed when a lot of mistakes are made in a text? How often do you hear about people labeling others as stupid? How often do we keep people small? Fortunately, schools are now doing much better than before.
When my dyslexic stepdad was in school, they had no idea what dyslexia was and just thought he was stupid. Now, thank God, that is no longer said. That just doesn’t mean you don’t give kids that feeling. And that feeling often stays with them for a lifetime.
I once, after studying multiple intelligences, assumed for myself the proposition: “Nobody is stupid.” Everyone is good at something and no one is good at everything. Think of the super-smart professor who has no idea how to comfort a student in trouble. Think of the football player who may not easily get his words out, but who shows perfect ball control.
Think of people who struggled through their school years, but who can sing fantastically. For me letters have always made sense, they were and are my friends. I was very lucky in this society. But numbers and difficult formulas didn’t make sense to me and gave me stress. Now that I don’t practice with it anymore, it’s even worse. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.
Think about this the next time you want to call someone “stupid”? Together we can ensure that we focus on the strengths of the other. Don’t you also grow when someone sees what you are really good at? Give that to someone else too. Think before you pass judgment and look further. I promise you that it will not only change the world of the other person, but also your own world!