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“I just love successful people who can’t spell. It truly motivates me to follow my dreams. For real though.”

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image from iclipart
image from iclipart

I must admit that upon reading the above Facebook post, I was offended. After all the writer was actually mocking people who don’t spell so well. And guess what? I don’t spell so well and I am sure on any given day you will find all types of spelling errors on my Facebook posts.

I asked myself why I was so offended. I am sure it wasn’t directed at me. I was offended because I realized how true her statement was for many people with learning disabilities, including myself. Yet the post wasn’t meant to be positive. To be fair, I don’t think it was in reference to people with disabilities, but it wasn’t meant as admiration for people who despite great academic challenges succeed anyway (disabled or otherwise). To the contrary, the post conveyed, for lack of better words, “if that dummy can be successful and they can’t spell, then surely I can make my dreams come true as smart as I am.” Okay, maybe that’s not what the writer said, but it is sure what I heard when I read it, hence the feeling of offence.

As a teacher and an individual with a learning disability, it’s just frustrating to be so misunderstood. In fact, out of all the disabling conditions that affect learning, LD is the most misunderstood. People can’t seem to wrap their minds around the fact that there are people who can’t spell, read, or do math, yet their IQ is above average in many cases and at least average in ALL cases. Yet, most people wrongly believe that learning disabilities are correlated with a person’s IQ. This can’t be further from the truth.

As a teacher, I can relate to the many teachers who are so frustrated because they work so hard trying to help their students with learning disabilities to excel academically. When you are in the trenches every day and you continue to see your students with disabilities continue to get further and further behind academically, you can’t but help to think, “What will their future be like?” Even with my own academic experience I have found myself thinking that. But I have only to look at myself and many other individuals with learning disabilities who have been successful to see how resilient we can be and how many of us truly make our own way when we can’t figure out how to be successful in the too small box that society tries to place everyone.

It’s no big surprise to me that a professor of the UK named Julie Logan found a link between people with dyslexia and entrepreneurship. Her studies found that people who are dyslexic tend to have a strength in oral communication and problem-solving. How ironic, that could be because some of us shy away from writing because we can’t spell so well and therefore rely on our ability to speak to communicate. Whatever the reason(s) it’s true there are a lot of people who can’t spell so well, but are highly successful.

I think the founder of Kinkos said it best as quoted by Karen Meyer:

“If you can’t read or write very well you can’t really sit still. I don’t think you have a lot of job opportunities, so I always had my own business I had my roadside vegetable stand, I used to paint the curbs and then I started Kinkos,” — Paul Orfalea.

Take a moment to view this video.  Be inspired to know that the future for your students can be bright even if they don’t spell so well.





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  1. I know someone who talked about a new baby as an “edition” to the family, and said she’ll talk later because right now she’s “tide” up. She has also said that there is not a single book in her house, and that everybody in her family hates to read. However, she’s a whiz at math, and can park a car with no problem. I have exceptional writing and reading abilities, yet I have atrocious math skills. Furthermore, I have trouble parking correctly, and I never know the right time to enter a highway from the acceleration lane, because the convergence of space, timing, distance, speed, and motion does not occur harmoniously in my mind. I know other people who have great language skills but are bad at math / driving, and vice versa. Why does this happen? What parts of the brain are involved?

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