The Top Five Ways to Have A Successful School Year: Number One

It will seem so simple, you will wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself, and yet many students struggling with dyslexia just can’t figure this one out.

Dear Young Dyslexic,

Number 1: Ask for help. This was one of the hardest things I had to learn to do.

However, research suggests that the dyslexic students' abilities to ask for help are a better predictor of their success than their ACT scores.

There is no shame in asking for help. Almost no one can be good at everything.

I firmly believe that the essence of community is everyone helping and asking for help. High school and college is now your community. Use it and contribute when you can.

You can ask instructors, counselors, tutors, counseling centers, learning disability programs, or friends. (Often, you can trade tutoring someone else in something you're good at for the help you need.)

As usual I had to learn this the hard way.

My freshman year in college I insisted in hiding my dyslexia. I tried functioning like everyone else. It was not a complete train wreck, but it was pretty darn close. I worked much harder than my friends and only got C's. Furthermore, my freshman literature teacher wrote at the end of my first in-class essay, "How did you get out of first grade?"

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I decided I was no longer going to bang my head against this invisible wall. Instead I found some ways around these barriers. I started asking for help.

I began by going to the professors who I liked and trusted and explain my situation. They seem genuinely interested and asked what they could do. I sheepishly asked if I could take the midterm orally. I felt like a real cheat.

I couldn't believe they agreed. (One professor later explained to me that almost all professors have had to take an oral exam for their PhD. They know how difficult it is to take an oral exam, because the tester can ask for more explanation. You really have to know the material.)

The difference was remarkable. I enjoyed my exams and instead of barely eking out C's, I got A's. Furthermore, my professors seemed to think I had good ideas.

Learning to ask for help is difficult. You have to learn to forgive your weaknesses and find other ways to show your strengths. Furthermore, you have to learn to trust others; and the more often you take this risk, the more your trust grows.

Good luck.

Be well and make a bit of noise,

Dr. Michael Ryan

Dr. Michael Ryan