Spelling Brought Tears :: My Dyslexia Journey


I hated Mondays in grade school. Mondays were spelling pretest days. If you got them all right, you didn’t have to take the real test on Friday. But I never got them all right. In fact, it was a good day when I managed to spell even one or two of them correctly.

So many red marks; I crumbled every time.

Then there was reading aloud. The phrase, “Let’s go down the row and take turns reading,” meant me frantically practicing my paragraph over and over. After which, I still read with a slow, uneven pace.

Spelling Brought TearsMy parents even had my hearing tested because my spelling was often so goofy they thought I might not be hearing correctly. But that wasn’t the problem. I am dyslexic.

In high school, I had a theology teacher insist I didn’t need the spell-check tool my parents had given me.

“You’re a smart girl,” he said. “You don’t need that thing.”

I stayed silent. But I wanted to ask, “And if I do need it, does that mean I’m not smart?”

My dyslexia is mild, so much so that it’s gone undiagnosed because I was able to fake my way through, at least by the time the tests came around. Yet my struggles still produced anxiety and tears. I still asked my mom why I had to work so hard each night as I wrote out my misspelled words over and over again.

But my parents didn’t expect me to know all my spelling words by Tuesday.


And they didn’t leave me alone to study them by myself. My mom was with me every step of the way. When I got frustrated, she was quick to point out that I got two more words right this time. And she didn’t walk into a different room while I wrote the ones I’d gotten wrong five times each. Even if it took me twenty minutes, she was there. Her presence was vital. I needed to feel it, and I did.

They also made sure books were a part of our daily lives. And when I was struggling to read them myself, they were right there again, offering to help by reading together. I vividly remember my turning point. The book that taught me to love reading again. It was Harry Potter. Cliché yes, but still an awesome read. And I haven’t stopped since.

It hurts us as parents when we don’t know how to help our children. (That’s not something I thought about growing up, but of course, our perspectives change when we have kids.) We want them to have easy, happy lives. But that’s not possible, for anyone.

If your child is struggling in school, by all means, use any resource you can: school professionals, doctors, books, but don’t get lost in all of that. Because the most important thing my parents did for me wasn’t to go and get a master’s in Reading Techniques. The most important thing, the thing that mattered, was they were there. Supporting me, loving me, and believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.

Here are a couple of books to check out:

Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, PhD

Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World by Katharine Beals, PhD

Originally published March 2017.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. It really does hurt when we don’t know how to help our kiddos. As the mama of an intelligent, hardworking, sweet, determined, categorically awesome, and dyslexic daughter, I’m so glad to know what was most important for you and how I can be most helpful from the perspective of someone who’s been where she is.

    • When I was talking to my mom about this post she said something that I loved. She said it was very important for her to help me get keep my love of the story and reading. She’d read with me so we could get through a book together and the magic of the story wouldn’t be lost. It worked! And I’m so grateful that’s what she focused on! 🙂

  2. Such great pointers! Spelling was always the worst for me too. I’ve never been diagnosed with dyslexia, but I’ve often wondered if I am borderline dyslexic. I’ve always been a suuuuper slow reader (and still am) but I’m so glad my parents loved books and always read to us– we’d always have a “read-a-loud” going, even when we were all in high-school.


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