David Raymond: On Being 17, Bright, and Unable to Read

David Raymond describes throughout the passage of his difficulties with dyslexia and the journey he endured to overcome it. In the beginning of the piece he describes a situation to his audience of a conflict between himself and his teacher. Raymond indicates his inability to read at the level he should be at as a 17 year old and expresses a constant feeling of being “dumb.”

One thing that stuck out to me personally was when Raymond stated, “You can’t know unless you’ve been there, It’s not easy to tell how it feels when you can’t read your own homework assignment.” This is completely true because I have struggled with dyslexia. Now before you start to feel pity for me, my case was a tad different and a little less severe than Raymond’s, but nonetheless a struggle. For me reading aloud was a struggle because I would mix up letter in a word and couldn’t read as fast. That wasn’t as challenging when comparing it to writing. Writing is difficult for me because I switch letter like b, p, and d, or I will simply misspell words because letter would just switch places on me, with an occasional number thrown in there. Through the years I’ve been able to improve my abilities to read and write through hard work. One example that made an impact was cursive handwriting, which allowed me to make fewer errors because I lift the pen less when writing a word. But whenever I’m writing I have to be consciously aware of what I’m writing because if I don’t I slip into my dyslexic mistakes.

Just like David Raymond had to go through a long process from elementary school to high school to work on his abilities to read, I to can relate to his experience. As he ends the section speaking about his expressed desire of entering college, it reflects the success of his journey despite obstacles. And David shares his story with the intent that “Maybe some teacher will read it and go easy on a kid in the classroom who has what I’ve got. Or, maybe some parent will stop nagging his kid, and stop calling him lazy. Maybe he’s not dumb or lazy. Maybe he just can’t read and doesn’t know what’s wrong. Maybe he’s scared, like I was.” This brought everything full circle because for me I went from an extremely low reading and writing abilities to currently enrolled in a high level college English course. It doesn’t matter who can read or write better than others, it’s about where it can take you and the possibilities it can open for you. Some of the greatest minds were though to have dyslexia, so who is to say that its not an advantage I have. Maybe the fact that Raymond and myself had to overcome such a challenging obstacle in our life enabled us to reach new heights because we overcame dyslexia. It still affects us today because it won’t ever completely go away but I believe I’m stronger in my writing because of it, not in spite of it.


22 thoughts on “David Raymond: On Being 17, Bright, and Unable to Read

  1. As I read this blog, I could really sense that you can relate to David’s experience. Your use of the quote, “You can’t know what that means unless you’ve been there. It’s not easy to tell how it feels when you can’t read your homework assignments or the newspaper or a menu in a restaurant or even notes from your own friends.” I completely agree with this quote. I have no idea what it’s like to not know how to read while everyone else around me does. However, when I was in Pakistan, I was helping my cousin tutor little kids on reading and writing in Urdu. Because I grew up here, I never learned how to read and write in Urdu. One of the little girls asked me what a word said and when I told her I didn’t know, the little kids laughed at me. I didn’t mind because they were little kids. But I was still a little embarrassed that I couldn’t read something that a five year-old was learning. That’s the closest experience I’ve had to David’s, but I still can’t imagine what it was like for him. However, after reading this essay, I can tell he was determined to learn, and he became successful in his writing.

  2. You and David seemed to have similarities when it came to reading and writing. I wouldn’t know what it is like to have this, but I can just imagine the struggle with not being able to read well out loud or mixing up all those letters. I am very impressed that you have overcome these problems. I think it is cool that writing in cursive helped you make less mistakes when writing. I feel that a teacher should go a little easier on kids with dyslexia. It really isn’t there fault they may not be able to read well or write well. The teacher can’t get mad a them for this.

  3. I like how you related the problem of David Raymond to yourself and your story of hard work to overcome the learning disadvantage. I can only imagine how much stress not only for Raymond but his parents and tutors his school experience was. Not being able to read assignments, not being able to write what he thought, and not being able to interact academically with other students. One thing that stuck out in my mind was how harsh the children who may not have known of his dyslexia but were cruel to him, making jokes about spelling words like “cats.” I was appalled when Raymond said he had to be bused to a different school so that he could learn. In my hometown all learning disabilities were handled at each school in the county for Kindergarten through Twelfth grade.

  4. I really enjoyed the fact that you made this blog very personal to you. The fact that you can relate to what the author is writing about helps enormously when writing a response to it. A couple of the things that really stood out to me was how harshly he was treated by the other kids. It’s not like he was some sort of whack job, he just couldn’t spell or read well. No one should ever be made fun of and treated cruelly just because they have a learning disability. Another thing was that they moved him to a completely separate school just because of his issue. It would be awful to be taken away from your friends and to some weird new school just for kids who had issues. I would hate to be taken away from my friends just because of a disability I had and I’m sure he hated it as well.

  5. I could never know the struggle that david had to go through just to try to not feel “dumb” anymore. Personally, I never had to struggle with a disability whether it was reading or writing. I bet David was not able to have a true high school experience due to his disability. I think moving him to a completely different high school was extreme. High schools are meant to tutor to your kid and their needs. If I was switched from one school to another just because of something like that I would have not been happy.

  6. I find in really fascinating that you and David have some similarities. I wouldn’t say I struggle with dyslexia, but I do mix up letters and numbers occasionally. Although you and David struggle much more, it allows both of you to learn and grow from it. We all have something we struggle with because not one human being is perfect. We all make mistakes and we can choose to let that mistake ruin our life or let that mistake be a lesson where we can prosper from it. It goes hand-in-in with letting something that can defeat us, actually defeat us or overcome the defeat. You are your own motivator, and if a barrier comes between you and the finish line there is ALWAYS a way around it…unless you choose for that barrier to come between you and the finish line. David, as well as many others in this world choose to improve themselves even with a struggle in hand. Dyslexia seems like it can be very overpowering, but David found a way to work around it so he could move on with his life and excel in school. As long as one puts their mind to something, it can be done.

  7. That’s really touching how you shared the same experience as David. Even though your experience wasn’t as rough, you still endured a situation that couldn’t be understood by anyone but those who faced your same struggles. David felt as if he was dumb, and he couldn’t find a way to vent. That’s why he was always crying and begging for death. Then, when he went to camp he finally found an outlet. He was able to channel his intelligence, and express himself fully.

  8. I love how personal you were in this blog. It really helped me connect as a reader. I look up to you and David for enduring a learning disability, big or small. I know we can all say that through out the past 12 years in school we have struggled with something while learning. For example, it makes you feel disappointed sometimes when you’re in class and see other students understanding something you don’t. This blog makes me realize that it could be much worse. This blog is both touching and motivating. It makes me realize that if you want something bad enough you can make it happen. It is very inspiring how David was able to get past his initial feeling of discouragement and accept his learning disability.

  9. I like how you added David Raymond’s quote, “You can’t know what that means unless you’ve been there. It’s not easy to tell how it feels when you can’t read your own homework assignment.” I do not have any sort of learning challenge like dyslexia and all I can do is imagine the difficulties that people go through. My cousin has dyslexia. He is great at math but words can be a problem for him. I know he has had to go through many things dealing with dyslexia that he did not want to go through. The important thing that you and David Raymond mentioned is that the challenges that dyslexia brought made you stronger.

  10. This was a really inspiring blog post to read. I really felt connected to your struggles even though I have never had to overcome the challenges you have had. I have always been a strong reader so for me reading and writing has always been one of my strongest subjects. Reading this blog made me understand what kind of struggles you endured. I felt like I was reading words from your heart and not your hand. I liked the end of the blog the best where you say that overcoming your dyslexia made you even stronger than someone of hasn’t been tested with the same challenges you have. However, many people have overcome other challenges that you or I haven’t been challenged with. In the end I think that we all are have different strengths and different weaknesses that separate ourselves from the rest of the world.

  11. Many elements that you incorporated into your response definitely made it that much more interesting to read. I love that you were able to connect so much with the writer and relay that to your readers in your response. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of correlations between authors of the passages we are assigned to read in class and my classmates, but yours is by far the most related. It’s not always easy to face your struggles and it’s an entire different story to actually write about them for the public to see, but you did and did it well at that. Your overall response was motivational and inspiring, much like David Raymond’s story that he shared with us.

  12. Wow, Amanda. Look how your readers responded to your personal experiences! This is the type of blogging I hope to see. Although you found a close personal connection to the reading, we all have something to share that helps us connect out reading texts to our lives. Thank you for being so candid!

  13. It could really see the emotion that this piece displays. I admire your courage to tell the world, basically about the struggles you had, and my still have today. I completely agree that everyone is not the same when it comes to education, and if you don’t learn the way you are “supposed” to learn then you are either dumb or lazy. As we’ve seen in the past some of the “dumb or lazy” people in the world have done extraordinary things. Such as Such as the pioneer of Apple, Steve Jobs and the creator of the Virgin empire Sir Richard Branson. These men were both considered dumb and not able to learn at a certain degree. They certainly showed us!

  14. Wow I had no idea that you struggled with the same issues as David Raymond. I’ve seen you in class and I never would have thought that you would be challenged with dyslexia. I guess that just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover. And it also shows that some problems, such as dyslexia, aren’t shown on the surface and when you don’t know that you’re a victim of it, it can be really discouraging. But once you know you have it, the next step is accepting it and learning to live with it which I can tell both David Raymond and yourself have done. Both of you are truly an inspiration!

  15. Awesome blog post! The connection you made with the story made it that much more inspiring! I loved the end where you stated, “It still affects us today because it won’t ever completely go away but I believe I’m stronger in my writing because of it, not in spite of it.” That is such a great perspective to have and I’m sure because you have to be a bit more careful when you write, that you appreciate the full value of writing and reading skills and understand the power each one carries. So, by sharing this blog post you’ve opened my eyes up to how I need to have more appreciation for the power of reading and writing. Thanks for the new perspective (:

  16. I could definitely feel your connection to Raymond’s piece. I have a few friends who are still overcoming dyslexia. I see their struggle and I am grateful to say that I am lucky to have not had an issue with my reading except the fact that I don’t do much of it. It is good to see that you have found success in overcoming your dyslexia. I noticed when I asked you to write in print that you were having a much harder time than you were when writing cursive, and now I know why! I honestly believe that writing in cursive is much more beautiful and skillful, so props to you! I think Raymond wrote his piece to give light to those who feel discouraged about their efforts in subjects that they cannot excel in. It is always great to read and see people who have progressed through a learning issue, and have surpassed the opinions of others. Well done Amanda!

  17. I will never know how it feels to have dyslexia. The closest thing I have was mixing up a bunch of words because I am not focused enough to slow down and pay attention to what I am writing. I feel like your dyslexia actually helped you in the long run and enabled you to slow down and gather your thought before you put them on the page, granite when you put them on the page you had to make sure you didn’t jumble them up, but still. Maybe that is true but maybe not yet every difficulty takes time and some analyzing to overcome. Raymond and yourself worked at dyslexia and you both proceeded to live successful lives even though you both had hardships to overcome. So overall I don’t believe there is anything that a human can’t overcome if they are willing to put the time and dedication into the problem at hand.

  18. Absolutely intrigued that you related Raymond’s perspective to “Journey despite obstacles.” It is something everyone can relate to ever since birth. Whether its learning to speak despite the language barrier or surviving another day despite the cruelty and coldness the world can show. It really goes to show how much we can overcome when we face adversity. You had a very compelling response and I feel that it was quite advantageous reading it. You definitely found a way to connect with your audience and the topic Well done!

  19. What a great blog! I’m glad you chose to share your personal experience with dyslexia. Like David Raymond said, “You can’t know what that means unless you’ve been there. It’s not easy to tell how it feels when you can’t read your homework assignments or the newspaper or a menu in a restaurant or even notes from your own friends.” I can only image how difficult it must be to not be able to read everyday things like that. I have always loved reading and I do it as much as possible. My problem is actually writing. But, like you, if I put my mind to it I can accomplish what I need to.

  20. I think it’s awesome that you could relate to this blog assignment so personally. I also am glad that you were able to overcome dyslexia and not use it as an excuse or crutch. It’s true that I have no idea what it’s like to have that problem but I can say that I do not like how standardized school systems are with tests to measure intelligence. It is not a fair evaluation of how smart someone is. I can’t imagine what it must be like to not be able to read or write because English is one of my stronger subjects. Glad to see that you don’t let dyslexia keep you from excelling and growing in your education. This blog is just the perfect for you.

  21. Its cool how you or David didn’t use the problems as an excuse. I feel like a lot of us might want to use it as an excuse to get out of things that we don’t want to do. You took your problem head on and worked on it. Having a personal experience that relates to the topic really makes in easier to understand. I am thankful that I do not have the same issue. I am not sure what I would do if I did.

  22. I understand the message that is supposed to be conveyed, but I HATE this article, and I don’t know why anyone else sees it. He uses the “R” word to refer to other students in SPED, and he makes being in a SPED classroom out to be something to be embarrassed or ashamed about…I know someone will rebuttal on this and say he was just saying his experiences…well if that’s what people did, made fun of him…he should say that…he should NOT give in and accept the stereotype himself that he is presenting. I was extremely hurt and offended by everything in this article…the end is supposed to be uplifting but he doesn’t even say that he is sorry for using the R word and that we should be accepting of all people with all struggles…he just says people like him, people with dyslexia.

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