Sometimes we envy the ones who are rich, popular, or extraordinary (why not?). However, most of them have sad stories of their own too. Just like Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Archer Martin. What do they have in common? They’re all famous geniuses. What else? They all have dyslexia.
My son has a language disability. He’s now 20, but when he was much younger, he was so aloof, and he would always stay at the back of the classroom, afraid of speaking the wrong words at the wrong time. When he gets home, he would tell me that he knew what he wanted to say, but it wouldn’t come out the way he thought. I brought him to a speech therapist, and he somehow improved, but still, he had to practice what he would say before speaking in public.
As if it was not enough, he also has an exceptional motor disability. He couldn’t tie his shoelaces by himself, and he would write big letters because he couldn’t adjust his handwriting. His teachers were struggling to teach him and became frustrated when they would fail.
The Turning Point
When he was 18, he met a friend who had dyslexia, but he was nothing like my son. He was confident, strong, and somehow happy. What he said to him changed the way he saw himself: “Your disability does not define you, but instead, you are shaped by them.”
With his disabilities, my son eventually learned to strive hard to adapt to public speaking and in events where he would have to use his motor skills. Through his journey, he instilled perseverance and patience and became stronger in spirit. Most people think that excellent speaking and writing skills equal to high intelligence. My son would prove that wrong – he has had a remarkable academic career.
Of course, it was not a walk in the park. We were supportive of his dreams and never failed to show him how much we love him. One time, he told me that he was starting to see the strengths of those with disabilities. He had disabled friends in college, and not surprisingly, they all did well, even excelling in some areas like research. He then learned that Einstein dropped out when he was in seventh grade – and look how successful he became!
Each year, he was more determined to prove to himself that his biggest weakness would soon become his greatest strength. He won awards in Science and Math Competitions. I can’t remember when it was exactly, but when he had dinner one night, I noticed that he spoke much, much better, and I was overwhelmed with happiness. He said he was seeing a speech therapist who helped him with memorization and speech. His most significant achievement after graduating from college was being hired to be a Chemistry teacher – weakness turned strength after all.
Failure Is Not To Be Feared
My son has grown so much, not despite but BECAUSE OF his disabilities, and his compassion for others who are struggling with disabilities and weaknesses is immense. He would tell his students never to give up and always go for their dreams, to face the negativity in them, and turn them into positivity. When he spoke and mispronounced some words, he would shrug his shoulders, smile, and keep going. That’s the spirit that he imbued to his students – and ultimately to us.
For all of you who are struggling with something today and thinking that they won’t succeed, do not give up. Do not fear failure. My son faced defeat and weakness head-on, and he just realized with flying colors.