My Friend Noelle

My Friend Noelle

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My Friend Noelle

 

My friend Noelle has dyslexia. It is one of a variety of learning disabilities that impacts the lives of over two million school children according to the US Department of Education. I have learned from Noelle that her disability affects her understanding and use of spoken or written language. She is labeled as having an imperfect reading ability, but that does not characterize who she is. A label like dyslexia describes a syndrome, not a specific student with specific problems.

 

Now a sophomore in high school, Noelle first learned of her disability when she was in fifth grade. After seven years of tests, she still wasn't actually given the label "learning disabled" until she was in eighth grade. It didn't turn out to be such a difficult discovery for Noelle because her mother had always suspected she had a problem and had worked with her to sharpen her skills. Her mother's attitude from the beginning helped her accept the idea that it wasn't a "big deal." It was something she could work hard to overcome. Weekly visits from a tutor are the only way Noelle's daily routine differs now from any other teenager's routine.

 

Certain teachers treat Noelle differently, especially those who know very little about dyslexia and give advice to her which isn't helpful. A myth about the disease is that she will become a better reader if she relies less on her tapes (tapes go along with all of her school books) and practices reading more. However, this is not true. Noelle needs the tapes and will not read better without them. Noelle is clearly hardworking and willing to put in the extra time required for her to do well in school. This is a strength that any teacher should appreciate. Teachers should also allow flexibility in classroom procedures (e.g., permitting the use of tape recorders for note-taking and test-taking when students have trouble with written language). Using computers for drill and practicing and providing positive reinforcement of skills are other strategies that have proven successful with students who are learning disabled.

 

Noelle tries to educate her peers who think that she just mixes up the sequence of letters when she is reading or speaking. That does happen to her, but she also has trouble reading and may never read as well as others do.

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However, she is able to take the same courses in school that she would take if she did not have a disability. In order to overcome this disability she works extremely hard to reach her goals.

 

Living with a disability has had some positive effects on Noelle. She knows that everyone is different and that no one is perfect. From her experience with dyslexia she has learned not to be ashamed of a disability. According to Noelle, many more people than you could imagine are living with them and getting along just fine.

 
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