Sethea used to feel ashamed about her dyslexia, but now she knows God made her exactly how He intended.
My teacher would hand out an assignment and the other students would go to their desks and start working. I would sit down and just stare at it.
I would go up to my teacher and tell her I didn’t understand. She would read me the questions and I would answer correctly, so she’d tell me to finish it on my own. But when I went back to my desk, I would once again just stare at the words.
Why can everyone else understand this when I can’t? I wondered. I didn’t know that I was supposed to be able to read the assignment on my own by that point, so I eventually just started guessing.
My teacher began noticing a pattern: I could answer the questions correctly when she read them to me, but if I did them on my own, I often got them wrong. She spoke with my parents, and they decided to run a bunch of tests on me.
That’s when I found out that I have dyslexia.
I was taken out of the normal classroom and put into a special education class with seven other students. Even though my struggle was with reading and not other subjects, I was considered one of the so-called “challenged” kids. I had to ride a separate bus and go to a different area of the school than all my peers. The other kids called me stupid and made fun of me a lot. It was extremely hard to be singled out like that; I felt like there was something very wrong with me.
My mother was such a strong, spiritual woman, and she was always my encourager. When I told her how the kids at school would tease me, she would say, “That’s not true. Let it go in one ear and out the other.” She was always there ready to listen and reassure me that I would be just fine.
It wasn’t easy though. One hard thing was that Mom often encouraged me not to tell anyone about my dyslexia. She would say, “You don’t have to tell anybody. You have an outgoing personality. You’ll be able to get by.”
She was right about that—more than just getting by, I learned how to thrive. I found different ways to learn, and I worked hard. My teachers became some of my closest friends, and my art teacher, Verlin Cox, tutored me through barber school.
Yet, being told to keep my dyslexia a secret was challenging. I know my mother had the best of intentions —she didn’t want me to be judged or treated differently. She believed in me. And for that I am so grateful. But the secrecy made me feel as though I had done something wrong, and it began to produce a lot of shame in my heart.
It took me a long time to understand that I don’t have to be embarrassed by my struggle with dyslexia.
I don’t have to hide it.
I now know that God created me exactly how He wanted me to be. And if He had made me a good reader, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Dyslexia has allowed me to see and deal with things differently. Some people sit down to read a book, but, for me, being able to read people through conversation has become my strong suit. I’ve owned and ran my own business. I’ve raised amazing children. And I’m not ashamed any more. I don’t mind telling people, and I’ve found ways to make it work—like an app on my phone that reads texts to me. But I haven’t stopped trying to improve. I’ve continued to push myself through my adult years, and, though it isn’t easy, I’m better than I used to be.
I wouldn’t change my life for anything—dyslexia included. I had an amazing childhood, encouraging parents, supportive teachers and a challenge that God used to make me who I am today.
Dyslexia is an inherited learning disorder that is characterized by a difficulty reading. This occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain language symbols. Dyslexia can occur in children with normal vision and intelligence. While there is no cure for dyslexia, most people can learn to read and succeed in school through tutoring, specialized education and emotional support.