Many scholars studying dyslexia have gone through extensive schooling to become experts in the field, but for one member of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), it was her experience that taught her what she knows.

Jillian Levy, a team member on NCLD, was told by her fourth grade teachers she wasn’t trying in school and was lazy because of her struggles to read and comprehend the material. Her parents got her eyes evaluated in hopes that this would help her issues, but she still wasn’t succeeding in school.

The glasses weren’t helping, so Jillian was tested for learning disabilities after research of the symptoms and causes. Though the test results came back inconclusive — her IQ was high and there was no single disability that could be pinpointed. Her parents advocated for a 504 plan and got her a tutor, and though these things helped, it wasn’t good enough.

Jillian was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia, among other things, and was able to receive an IEP and aid from the school.

What Jillian learned from all of this was the ability to self-advocate, which ultimately led to her success in school and in life.

"Overall, my experience was very difficult, but in the end I felt empowered and learned how to self-advocate," she said. "Our society has stigmatized learning disabilities as an excuse or a cop out. In my life, however, I have learned that being diagnosed has enabled me to really understand how I can succeed. It may take a long time for young children to receive the correct diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean parents should stop providing academic and emotional support."

To read her entire story and to learn about treatment myths, visit the NCLD website.