Dispelling the myth

For Cornelius Green, skipping and dodging classes in middle school constituted his attempts to conceal his learning disability from friends and teachers.

“I would play sick, pretend to be sleepy, and skip class so nobody would know I had dyslexia.”

Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by reading difficulties that include difficulty with writing, spelling or working with numbers.

Statistics from the National Institutes of Health show that approximately 15 percent of the U.S. population has significant difficulty learning to read and dyslexia is very often a major factor.

“On days when we had to read I was scared to go to class,” Green said.

As Green matriculated through middle school, teachers addressed his learning disability by allowing him to take a combination of regular and special classes.

During high school, still battling dyslexia, Green said he became confident that in spite of his disability, he still could achieve academic success.

“I received A’s and B’s in high school in subjects like English and reading,”

Green, 20, a freshman business student from Quincy, holds a 2.6 GPA and said he plans to strengthen his weaknesses.

“I need to improve in test taking,” Green said.

Green credited the Learning Development and Evaluation Center at FAMU as an instrumental part of his collegiate success.

“I’ve [been] to the LDEC for my reading and writing,” Green said. “Now, I’m pretty good in writing.”

Sharon Wooten, director of LDEC since 1985, said her staff helps students deal with every learning disability and disorder imaginable.

“While some people think that we address only disorders such as dyslexia, there are several other disorders that come into play with learning disabilities,” Wooten said. “There’s processing, auditory perceptual, visual perceptual and memory disorders as well.”

Wooten said she hopes to dispel the misconception that people with learning disabilities lack intellect.

“The disorder has nothing to do with intelligence,” said Wooten, who battled attention deficit disorder.

One of Wooten’s many success stories is Joe, whose last name has been withheld for confidentiality. Joe, who like Green, is overcoming dyslexia, sought help from the LDEC during his matriculation at FAMU.

Now, the 37-year-old FAMU employee said he feels dyslexia has contributed to his success. However, he also said a learning disorder can impede one’s career.

“It’s (OK) having dyslexia, but sometimes it limits a person in their ability to advance,” said Joe, who received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in guidance counseling from FAMU.

“They don’t care about your skills, they’ll look at this guy and say, he’s got a learning disability we can’t give him a chance.”

Green said among other virtues, overcoming dyslexia has taught him not to engage in self-pity.

“It taught me patience,” Green said. “It taught me how to love.”

contact samuel flemmings at rhymetree@hotmail.com.