The Dyslexic Superhero Speaks Out

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My dyslexic superhero starts 6th grade in a few short weeks, and we’re doing everything we can to make his transition as seamless as possible: a summer program for students with learning differences, meeting with his team of teachers, sharing with him all the ways that this year will be different. But for all the talking we’ve done, it’s equally important to listen. Last year, Lucas gave a speech to his class about what it’s like to have dyslexia, in the hopes that what he had to say would help others understand. On the eve of a new school year, with his permission, I’m sharing that speech with you.


Dyslexia is a common disability. It occurs in 8.5 million students, and 1 out of 5 people—like me.

I first realized that reading was challenging for me in first grade, when I looked at a book and thought, “I can’t read this.” I saw that people were getting finished with what they were doing more quickly than me, and I thought that I was just stupid and they were smart. I didn’t think about having a disability at all, I just thought I was a stupid person and I would suffer like that for the rest of my life.

Every single day, I would make up excuses to get out of reading like having a sore throat, getting really hot, or getting a cold. I got sent home once for having a random crying fit. No one knew why I was crying, but it was because, during reading time, everyone else said, “Done!” and I’d only read the first two sentences. I always picked the shortest book to read. A few people were on chapter books already, and I was searching for new picture books in the classroom. People would finish chapter books before I finished my picture books, and I was really not happy about that. I thought that everyone else was normal and I was defective.

Things changed for me in first grade, when my mom asked me about how unhappy I was at school. She told me that I was going to have a test and I freaked out, because even in first grade, tests were really hard for me and I despised them. I was really mad at my mom until the test and when I had the test, I came back grinning. I said, “This was the easiest test in the world.” And my mom was really happy and they figured out I have dyslexia.

After that, everything got easier. Instead of having to struggle and read picture books with literally two or three words on each page, I had a computer in school and I listened to audio books. Audio books gave me the opportunity to read big books, the same kind of books that everyone else was reading.

At first, when I found out that I had dyslexia, I felt even worse because I thought, “They actually have a name for this? This is horrible!” Then, when I got all of these new things to help me, like the audio books and tutoring with a really awesome teacher, I started to notice that school wasn’t a big jumbled mess that I had to deal with every day.

My tutor, Miss Layne, would help me by giving me fun games that we would play. We played them over and over and we learned new stuff, and we even went back to some of the alphabet on multiple occasions. As this process gradually went on, what it was actually doing was rewiring my brain. Instead of my brain taking words and doing practically nothing with them, not knowing what they were and throwing them out, the words were taking a longer route around my brain and transferring into information that was—no pun intended—readable.

Even though I can read and spell much better than I used to, homework is still hard for me sometimes. In math, I figure out the correct answer on a blank sheet of paper. Then all of a sudden, the answer will slip my mind and a random number will take its place. I’ll just slap the random number down on the homework assignment, and then my mom will come look over my shoulder and say, “What happened there? You did it right on your sheet!” She used to get really confused as to why this was happening, and then we figured out it was part of my dyslexia. How I solve this is, every problem I do, I will do it once, look at it, make sure it makes sense, do it twice even though I know it’s correct. If it’s wrong then, I do it another time. I doublecheck my answers on every problem.

Here’s what reading is like for me. I’ll start reading a book and the first sentence will be okay. It will take me about four seconds to read. And then I’ll go down to the next line, it will take me about six seconds to read. And then by the third line, nothing makes sense. It looks like a bunch of lines, a bunch of circles, and a bunch of weird shapes, sitting there and hitting and mushing and combining.

It’s almost impossible to explain. It looks like crazy mixed numbers together that you have to see and you have to put them in correct order, like a sentence has 27 letters and they’re all mixed up, and you have to put them all back together at the same time while you’re reading. By the third line, I forget everything that I’ve learned before it. And then I have to read it all over again.

During independent reading at school, you’ll see me most likely reading a World War II book or a National Geographic book, or a picture book. You’ll never see me reading a chapter book, and you might wonder why. You might think that the books you’re reading have more content and are more interesting, and in truth, some of them are. The way that I weave my way around this is with audiobooks. They help a lot. If someone is reading a book and I really want to read it, I say, “Hey, can I please get this audiobook?” And my mom always says yes.

On my way to school, and when I’m coming to and from tae kwon do, I’ll have an audiobook that I listen to. I’ve read a lot of series—Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Septimus Heap, The Uglies, The Missing, Behemoth, and the one I’m reading right now: Warp: The Reluctant Assassin.

Graphic novels are easy for me to read because the words are in small groups, not large masses. The illustrations help me because they tell the story, and I don’t have to rely on the words. If I can’t figure out what something means, I’ll look at the picture.

People with dyslexia can also have a problem with something called working memory. For me, this means I’m going along, talking, and then my brain doesn’t do anything with the words, it just stops and nothing happens. Everything’s blank, and all I can say is, “I forgot, I forgot, I forgot.” The whole idea is gone, and all the words are gone except two: “I forgot.” This happens to me when I’m giving presentations sometimes, even when I’ve practiced and know exactly what I mean to say! This short video will explain what working memory is all about.


“Bad working memory” sounds like an excuse for students that keep forgetting, but it actually isn’t. It’s a real part of dyslexia. Sometimes after someone finishes talking, I completely forget what they’ve said. In movies, you know how people get distracted when someone’s giving an important lecture and a butterfly goes by? That’s basically what happens to me. I see something, I get interested and I chase the butterfly. This is also a problem with my ADHD—but I’m not going to get into that.

Dyslexia doesn’t only affect your ability to read and write. It can also affect your ability to follow directions and remember how to do things in a certain order.

Because of my dyslexia, the States Test was a great challenge for me. At first, I felt extremely overwhelmed and sad about the test. It was a “Lucas trap” because I had to remember all of the states and their capitals—not just what they were but how to spell them, too. This was hard because the spelling of many of the capitals, like Cheyenne and Baton Rouge, didn’t go along with the rules that I’d learned. I really wanted to do well on the test, but in my heart I knew I couldn’t.

My mom told me I could pass the test—I’d just have to try really hard, and she would help. So she printed out what felt like every piece of information she could find on the states and capitals. She made flashcards, we watched the Tour of the States video like ten times a day over the course of two weeks, she got me a puzzle, she quizzed me about twenty-five states per day in the car on the way to and from school—fifty states a day—and every night I had to do a sample states and capitals test. When I couldn’t remember the capitals, my mom came up with silly ways to help me remember. This is the best way for people with dyslexia to learn. It’s called “multi-sensory learning,” where you take in information in all different ways.

The day of the test, I was nervous and I still didn’t think I was going to do well. But when I got my test back, I was surprised that I got 99%. This taught me that I can do everything that other people can do—I just have to work really hard.

I wanted to give this presentation so that people would know what dyslexia is. If you find someone who looks like they’re being super-lazy, they actually might have a disability, like dyslexia. Just because I can’t read well doesn’t mean that I’m not smart. It just means that I don’t read well.

Many people who have dyslexia think outside the box and can be very talented. For me, these talents are art and martial arts. Many dyslexic people are very creative. Leonardo DaVinci, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, and the director Steven Spielberg are all dyslexic. So was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, and the artist Pablo Picasso.

My dyslexia is never going to go away. It’s always going to be there. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It allows me to have more of a feel for people, to think about reasons why someone’s upset. I don’t just think about myself.

I also gave this presentation because I wanted you to know—if someone is struggling, that doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or not paying attention. They might have a learning disability, so don’t be mean to them because of it. If you’re at a summer camp and you see someone struggling, stay with them and don’t let anyone bully them. Back them up, and if they need help, help them, because they’re probably struggling through something that they’re very sad about.

Today, I still feel stupid sometimes, but I’ve learned to cope with my dyslexia and even take advantage of it.  I know I can do anything I decide to do.

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My dyslexic superhero starts 6th grade in a few short weeks, and we’re doing everything we can to make his transition as seamless as possible: a summer program for students with learning differences, meeting with his team of teachers, sharing with him all the ways that this year will be different. But for all the talking we’ve done, it’s equally important to listen. Last year, Lucas gave a speech to his class about what it’s like to have dyslexia, in the hopes that what he had to say would help others understand. On the eve of a new school year, with his permission, I’m sharing that speech with you.


Dyslexia is a common disability. It occurs in 8.5 million students, and 1 out of 5 people—like me.

I first realized that reading was challenging for me in first grade, when I looked at a book and thought, “I can’t read this.” I saw that people were getting finished with what they were doing more quickly than me, and I thought that I was just stupid and they were smart. I didn’t think about having a disability at all, I just thought I was a stupid person and I would suffer like that for the rest of my life.

Every single day, I would make up excuses to get out of reading like having a sore throat, getting really hot, or getting a cold. I got sent home once for having a random crying fit. No one knew why I was crying, but it was because, during reading time, everyone else said, “Done!” and I’d only read the first two sentences. I always picked the shortest book to read. A few people were on chapter books already, and I was searching for new picture books in the classroom. People would finish chapter books before I finished my picture books, and I was really not happy about that. I thought that everyone else was normal and I was defective.

Things changed for me in first grade, when my mom asked me about how unhappy I was at school. She told me that I was going to have a test and I freaked out, because even in first grade, tests were really hard for me and I despised them. I was really mad at my mom until the test and when I had the test, I came back grinning. I said, “This was the easiest test in the world.” And my mom was really happy and they figured out I have dyslexia.

After that, everything got easier. Instead of having to struggle and read picture books with literally two or three words on each page, I had a computer in school and I listened to audio books. Audio books gave me the opportunity to read big books, the same kind of books that everyone else was reading.

At first, when I found out that I had dyslexia, I felt even worse because I thought, “They actually have a name for this? This is horrible!” Then, when I got all of these new things to help me, like the audio books and tutoring with a really awesome teacher, I started to notice that school wasn’t a big jumbled mess that I had to deal with every day.

My tutor, Miss Layne, would help me by giving me fun games that we would play. We played them over and over and we learned new stuff, and we even went back to some of the alphabet on multiple occasions. As this process gradually went on, what it was actually doing was rewiring my brain. Instead of my brain taking words and doing practically nothing with them, not knowing what they were and throwing them out, the words were taking a longer route around my brain and transferring into information that was—no pun intended—readable.

Even though I can read and spell much better than I used to, homework is still hard for me sometimes. In math, I figure out the correct answer on a blank sheet of paper. Then all of a sudden, the answer will slip my mind and a random number will take its place. I’ll just slap the random number down on the homework assignment, and then my mom will come look over my shoulder and say, “What happened there? You did it right on your sheet!” She used to get really confused as to why this was happening, and then we figured out it was part of my dyslexia. How I solve this is, every problem I do, I will do it once, look at it, make sure it makes sense, do it twice even though I know it’s correct. If it’s wrong then, I do it another time. I doublecheck my answers on every problem.

Here’s what reading is like for me. I’ll start reading a book and the first sentence will be okay. It will take me about four seconds to read. And then I’ll go down to the next line, it will take me about six seconds to read. And then by the third line, nothing makes sense. It looks like a bunch of lines, a bunch of circles, and a bunch of weird shapes, sitting there and hitting and mushing and combining.

It’s almost impossible to explain. It looks like crazy mixed numbers together that you have to see and you have to put them in correct order, like a sentence has 27 letters and they’re all mixed up, and you have to put them all back together at the same time while you’re reading. By the third line, I forget everything that I’ve learned before it. And then I have to read it all over again.

During independent reading at school, you’ll see me most likely reading a World War II book or a National Geographic book, or a picture book. You’ll never see me reading a chapter book, and you might wonder why. You might think that the books you’re reading have more content and are more interesting, and in truth, some of them are. The way that I weave my way around this is with audiobooks. They help a lot. If someone is reading a book and I really want to read it, I say, “Hey, can I please get this audiobook?” And my mom always says yes.

On my way to school, and when I’m coming to and from tae kwon do, I’ll have an audiobook that I listen to. I’ve read a lot of series—Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Septimus Heap, The Uglies, The Missing, Behemoth, and the one I’m reading right now: Warp: The Reluctant Assassin.

Graphic novels are easy for me to read because the words are in small groups, not large masses. The illustrations help me because they tell the story, and I don’t have to rely on the words. If I can’t figure out what something means, I’ll look at the picture.

People with dyslexia can also have a problem with something called working memory. For me, this means I’m going along, talking, and then my brain doesn’t do anything with the words, it just stops and nothing happens. Everything’s blank, and all I can say is, “I forgot, I forgot, I forgot.” The whole idea is gone, and all the words are gone except two: “I forgot.” This happens to me when I’m giving presentations sometimes, even when I’ve practiced and know exactly what I mean to say! This short video will explain what working memory is all about.


“Bad working memory” sounds like an excuse for students that keep forgetting, but it actually isn’t. It’s a real part of dyslexia. Sometimes after someone finishes talking, I completely forget what they’ve said. In movies, you know how people get distracted when someone’s giving an important lecture and a butterfly goes by? That’s basically what happens to me. I see something, I get interested and I chase the butterfly. This is also a problem with my ADHD—but I’m not going to get into that.

Dyslexia doesn’t only affect your ability to read and write. It can also affect your ability to follow directions and remember how to do things in a certain order.

Because of my dyslexia, the States Test was a great challenge for me. At first, I felt extremely overwhelmed and sad about the test. It was a “Lucas trap” because I had to remember all of the states and their capitals—not just what they were but how to spell them, too. This was hard because the spelling of many of the capitals, like Cheyenne and Baton Rouge, didn’t go along with the rules that I’d learned. I really wanted to do well on the test, but in my heart I knew I couldn’t.

My mom told me I could pass the test—I’d just have to try really hard, and she would help. So she printed out what felt like every piece of information she could find on the states and capitals. She made flashcards, we watched the Tour of the States video like ten times a day over the course of two weeks, she got me a puzzle, she quizzed me about twenty-five states per day in the car on the way to and from school—fifty states a day—and every night I had to do a sample states and capitals test. When I couldn’t remember the capitals, my mom came up with silly ways to help me remember. This is the best way for people with dyslexia to learn. It’s called “multi-sensory learning,” where you take in information in all different ways.

The day of the test, I was nervous and I still didn’t think I was going to do well. But when I got my test back, I was surprised that I got 99%. This taught me that I can do everything that other people can do—I just have to work really hard.

I wanted to give this presentation so that people would know what dyslexia is. If you find someone who looks like they’re being super-lazy, they actually might have a disability, like dyslexia. Just because I can’t read well doesn’t mean that I’m not smart. It just means that I don’t read well.

Many people who have dyslexia think outside the box and can be very talented. For me, these talents are art and martial arts. Many dyslexic people are very creative. Leonardo DaVinci, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, and the director Steven Spielberg are all dyslexic. So was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, and the artist Pablo Picasso.

My dyslexia is never going to go away. It’s always going to be there. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It allows me to have more of a feel for people, to think about reasons why someone’s upset. I don’t just think about myself.

I also gave this presentation because I wanted you to know—if someone is struggling, that doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or not paying attention. They might have a learning disability, so don’t be mean to them because of it. If you’re at a summer camp and you see someone struggling, stay with them and don’t let anyone bully them. Back them up, and if they need help, help them, because they’re probably struggling through something that they’re very sad about.

Today, I still feel stupid sometimes, but I’ve learned to cope with my dyslexia and even take advantage of it.  I know I can do anything I decide to do.

My dyslexic superhero starts 6th grade in a few short weeks, and we’re doing everything we can to make his transition as seamless as possible: a summer program for students with learning differences, meeting with his team of teachers, sharing with him all the ways that this year will be different. But for all the talking we’ve done, it’s equally important to listen. Last year, Lucas gave a speech to his class about what it’s like to have dyslexia, in the hopes that what he had to say would help others understand. On the eve of a new school year, with his permission, I’m sharing that speech with you.


Dyslexia is a common disability. It occurs in 8.5 million students, and 1 out of 5 people—like me.

I first realized that reading was challenging for me in first grade, when I looked at a book and thought, “I can’t read this.” I saw that people were getting finished with what they were doing more quickly than me, and I thought that I was just stupid and they were smart. I didn’t think about having a disability at all, I just thought I was a stupid person and I would suffer like that for the rest of my life.

Every single day, I would make up excuses to get out of reading like having a sore throat, getting really hot, or getting a cold. I got sent home once for having a random crying fit. No one knew why I was crying, but it was because, during reading time, everyone else said, “Done!” and I’d only read the first two sentences. I always picked the shortest book to read. A few people were on chapter books already, and I was searching for new picture books in the classroom. People would finish chapter books before I finished my picture books, and I was really not happy about that. I thought that everyone else was normal and I was defective.

Things changed for me in first grade, when my mom asked me about how unhappy I was at school. She told me that I was going to have a test and I freaked out, because even in first grade, tests were really hard for me and I despised them. I was really mad at my mom until the test and when I had the test, I came back grinning. I said, “This was the easiest test in the world.” And my mom was really happy and they figured out I have dyslexia.

After that, everything got easier. Instead of having to struggle and read picture books with literally two or three words on each page, I had a computer in school and I listened to audio books. Audio books gave me the opportunity to read big books, the same kind of books that everyone else was reading.

At first, when I found out that I had dyslexia, I felt even worse because I thought, “They actually have a name for this? This is horrible!” Then, when I got all of these new things to help me, like the audio books and tutoring with a really awesome teacher, I started to notice that school wasn’t a big jumbled mess that I had to deal with every day.

My tutor, Miss Layne, would help me by giving me fun games that we would play. We played them over and over and we learned new stuff, and we even went back to some of the alphabet on multiple occasions. As this process gradually went on, what it was actually doing was rewiring my brain. Instead of my brain taking words and doing practically nothing with them, not knowing what they were and throwing them out, the words were taking a longer route around my brain and transferring into information that was—no pun intended—readable.

Even though I can read and spell much better than I used to, homework is still hard for me sometimes. In math, I figure out the correct answer on a blank sheet of paper. Then all of a sudden, the answer will slip my mind and a random number will take its place. I’ll just slap the random number down on the homework assignment, and then my mom will come look over my shoulder and say, “What happened there? You did it right on your sheet!” She used to get really confused as to why this was happening, and then we figured out it was part of my dyslexia. How I solve this is, every problem I do, I will do it once, look at it, make sure it makes sense, do it twice even though I know it’s correct. If it’s wrong then, I do it another time. I doublecheck my answers on every problem.

Here’s what reading is like for me. I’ll start reading a book and the first sentence will be okay. It will take me about four seconds to read. And then I’ll go down to the next line, it will take me about six seconds to read. And then by the third line, nothing makes sense. It looks like a bunch of lines, a bunch of circles, and a bunch of weird shapes, sitting there and hitting and mushing and combining.

It’s almost impossible to explain. It looks like crazy mixed numbers together that you have to see and you have to put them in correct order, like a sentence has 27 letters and they’re all mixed up, and you have to put them all back together at the same time while you’re reading. By the third line, I forget everything that I’ve learned before it. And then I have to read it all over again.

During independent reading at school, you’ll see me most likely reading a World War II book or a National Geographic book, or a picture book. You’ll never see me reading a chapter book, and you might wonder why. You might think that the books you’re reading have more content and are more interesting, and in truth, some of them are. The way that I weave my way around this is with audiobooks. They help a lot. If someone is reading a book and I really want to read it, I say, “Hey, can I please get this audiobook?” And my mom always says yes.

On my way to school, and when I’m coming to and from tae kwon do, I’ll have an audiobook that I listen to. I’ve read a lot of series—Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Septimus Heap, The Uglies, The Missing, Behemoth, and the one I’m reading right now: Warp: The Reluctant Assassin.

Graphic novels are easy for me to read because the words are in small groups, not large masses. The illustrations help me because they tell the story, and I don’t have to rely on the words. If I can’t figure out what something means, I’ll look at the picture.

People with dyslexia can also have a problem with something called working memory. For me, this means I’m going along, talking, and then my brain doesn’t do anything with the words, it just stops and nothing happens. Everything’s blank, and all I can say is, “I forgot, I forgot, I forgot.” The whole idea is gone, and all the words are gone except two: “I forgot.” This happens to me when I’m giving presentations sometimes, even when I’ve practiced and know exactly what I mean to say! This short video will explain what working memory is all about.


“Bad working memory” sounds like an excuse for students that keep forgetting, but it actually isn’t. It’s a real part of dyslexia. Sometimes after someone finishes talking, I completely forget what they’ve said. In movies, you know how people get distracted when someone’s giving an important lecture and a butterfly goes by? That’s basically what happens to me. I see something, I get interested and I chase the butterfly. This is also a problem with my ADHD—but I’m not going to get into that.

Dyslexia doesn’t only affect your ability to read and write. It can also affect your ability to follow directions and remember how to do things in a certain order.

Because of my dyslexia, the States Test was a great challenge for me. At first, I felt extremely overwhelmed and sad about the test. It was a “Lucas trap” because I had to remember all of the states and their capitals—not just what they were but how to spell them, too. This was hard because the spelling of many of the capitals, like Cheyenne and Baton Rouge, didn’t go along with the rules that I’d learned. I really wanted to do well on the test, but in my heart I knew I couldn’t.

My mom told me I could pass the test—I’d just have to try really hard, and she would help. So she printed out what felt like every piece of information she could find on the states and capitals. She made flashcards, we watched the Tour of the States video like ten times a day over the course of two weeks, she got me a puzzle, she quizzed me about twenty-five states per day in the car on the way to and from school—fifty states a day—and every night I had to do a sample states and capitals test. When I couldn’t remember the capitals, my mom came up with silly ways to help me remember. This is the best way for people with dyslexia to learn. It’s called “multi-sensory learning,” where you take in information in all different ways.

The day of the test, I was nervous and I still didn’t think I was going to do well. But when I got my test back, I was surprised that I got 99%. This taught me that I can do everything that other people can do—I just have to work really hard.

I wanted to give this presentation so that people would know what dyslexia is. If you find someone who looks like they’re being super-lazy, they actually might have a disability, like dyslexia. Just because I can’t read well doesn’t mean that I’m not smart. It just means that I don’t read well.

Many people who have dyslexia think outside the box and can be very talented. For me, these talents are art and martial arts. Many dyslexic people are very creative. Leonardo DaVinci, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, and the director Steven Spielberg are all dyslexic. So was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, and the artist Pablo Picasso.

My dyslexia is never going to go away. It’s always going to be there. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It allows me to have more of a feel for people, to think about reasons why someone’s upset. I don’t just think about myself.

I also gave this presentation because I wanted you to know—if someone is struggling, that doesn’t mean that they’re stupid or not paying attention. They might have a learning disability, so don’t be mean to them because of it. If you’re at a summer camp and you see someone struggling, stay with them and don’t let anyone bully them. Back them up, and if they need help, help them, because they’re probably struggling through something that they’re very sad about.

Today, I still feel stupid sometimes, but I’ve learned to cope with my dyslexia and even take advantage of it.  I know I can do anything I decide to do.

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