Home   עברית
I would like to receive updates from Nitzan association
facebook nitzan page link

Key to the Locked Door

"I'm not dyslexic, I just didn't try"

G., 23 years old, a student of Mass Communication

..."I really don't remember how it began. I don't remember anything at all from my first years in school. Yesterday, for example, I sat with my sister and friends from the neighborhood, and they were talking about a lot of things that happened to all of us in our first years in school - teachers, events, and all sorts of different things. I didn't remember anything at all, not even one of the things they talked about with such excitement.

Other things, that don't happen at school, yes (I do remember). In general, the thing I remember the most, that as a boy I was an absolute liar. Today, this is the thing I hate the most. I lied about everything. Today, I regret the deeds I did in the past. Today, I couldn't possibly lie, even though a lot of times I could get myself out of bad situations if I did. And the main reason I regret that I lied is because I generally lied to my parents about all sorts of things. And they were for the most part cool as parents. I always had my living space. They never disregarded what I had to say. They would tell me their opinion and the decision was mine. I am really sorry I behaved that way as a child.

First of all, as a terrible student I lied about my grades, I hid them. I would even change grades and lots of things like this. I would lie to teachers about homework. I would tell my parents that I don't have homework, but since I have a twin sister who learned with me in the same class, I had a problem. But nevertheless I got by somehow. When she would say that we had assignments, I said that I already did them and things like that. In the beginning they would still check me. At some stage they decided that by force it won't work, and that I needed to decide alone about this.

And to teachers, lets say, if it was a page of questions, then there were a lot of teachers who would check according to the order of the chairs, when I would come to class before it started, I would count each time how many kids there were before me and then I would copy the answer of the question that I would have to answer according to where I was sitting, or I would answer according to logic, or I would guess according to one word or sentence I remembered from the class. Sometimes I messed up and sometimes I was successful. I would build complete answers according to one sentence that I remembered, which sometimes was really not important, but this impressed the teachers that I paid attention to them. Somehow I would build a whole story around this one sentence, and in making up stories I'm good..."

"Mainly, I always felt, despite everything, that I do know things. That I am smart like the others, even more than the others, more than the average, it's like I did have some sort of evaluation about myself. Also, people would always ask me if I make 90's and 100's. But every time you try to invest effort and learn something and you fall again, then I don't know if you want to try hard again. Anyway, I, it seems, gave up very fast. I said to myself that I'd be successful in life without school. I knew that I wasn't successful, not because I have some sort of problem, but because I give up on myself, I don't work enough.

Even today that's what I think. I really do want to succeed. When I sit with people who are just talking, not writing or reading, then I have a lot to say. But when it comes to written text that you have to read and answer, to write correctly and in the proper order, I don't believe that I'll ever know to do this.

"You won't be an engineer"

T., 26 years old, Film

..."I was in a big conflict. On the one hand I saw that I'm normal, somehow like everyone, on the other hand - I am an academic failure. Back then, I felt that I always had to hide, to cover up. I tried not to stick out, not to be, not to participate in classes, so that I wouldn't say something stupid. Besides that I made a few pranks. I also had a big conflict between my great desire to learn and succeed and between my lack of ability to carry it out.

I had terrible, awful feelings. I would lie in bed at night and pray that once I'll be successful on an exam. I didn't meet the expectations I had for myself, or my parents', or anyone's. In general, I felt that I wasn't taking responsibility. Really, I felt that I didn't know how to do anything. As if I didn't have anything. I suffered terribly. I felt that I didn't deserve this, it wasn't right.

I had disputes with my mother, who is a very dominant figure in my life. In the first stages, she accepted the opinion of the school that I'm just lazy. I tried explaining to her that it's not true. And really at the beginning of the year I had a few bursts of effort, I tried to summarize, I tried doing assignments, but it didn't work for me. I didn't know how, what. I couldn't deal with the writing. Then over and over again was the awful disappointment. The teacher would look at my work and make some sort of insulting comment in front of all of the children about my handwriting, no matter on what - and immediately everything closed up and stopped with me again. Now, I understand how much I tried. Then, I thought that there must be some sort of additional effort that I have to do, but that I didn't know what it is.

This hurt a lot, my disappointment from myself hurt a lot, and the disappointment from me of people who are important to me, dear to me. I had so many bad feelings. I think that the psychological damage that was done to me is still with me today - some sort of constant worry from things, from a lack of confidence, doesn't matter how much I succeed, or in what. I don't believe that I'll ever overcome this. When I grew up more, in high school, I put a mask on myself, on all of these feelings. I acted as if I was apathetic, cynical, bold, but inside me there was great suffering..."

..."After the evaluation, I was very angry at the system. I was very angry. I remembered the suffering I had all the years at school. I got angry with my parents, I was angry with everyone. I was angry with myself that I didn't understand; I didn't see what was happening to me. I was so angry.

They take a person and turn him into someone who is lazy, doesn't try, and all of a sudden it turns out that this isn't what it was at all. My mother understood my anger. She tried to justify, to explain that she didn't know, didn't hear about it. Until today she tries to justify herself. But this isn't relevant because this was my life all of those years, and it doesn't interest me that they didn't understand or didn't know. I suffered. I suffered. It doesn't interest me that in those years they didn't know. This hurt me for a certain amount of time after the evaluation..." 

A Suitcase of Failures

H., 27 years old, Agriculture 

..."And I felt bad in general. I wanted to run away from it all - from school, from home. Later, in the army, I had thoughts to run away from life too. Then I understood that I'm not good at learning, not good in the army - even in the army! And if so, I'm not worth anything at anything. I'm not good at getting organized, being on time, dealing with assignments, tiredness. I always got the message, without words, that I'm not worth anything, anything. Not in my studies, not in the army. So what's left, anyway?

Fight at any Price

D., 24 years old, Computer Science

..."I also had a lot of mistakes copying the numbers, the equations. Probably before, in the lower grades, the lines of numbers were shorter. In the 9th grade I could copy a line like this five times and to fix it another two times. And every time there were different mistakes. When there weren't mistakes I would solve the problem correctly. But I had a lot of frustrations then. I always fell on the signs, pluses and minuses. I would fall in places where I didn't have an indication. When I knew what the answer needed to be, I could go over it again and again and fix myself on signs or mistakes in copying along the way. Without any indication, I couldn't do anything. I don't have a problem with mathematical logic, but on tests everything got messed up.

Strength to Continue

B., 24 years old, Art History

..."On the graduation exam in literature, since I had so much to say everything jumped at once and I felt that I wasn't writing properly. They taught us that you need and opening, body, and summary, but all of a sudden I didn't know how to start or how to continue, everything go mixed up. I ran out of the class and cried. After I learned so much...they let me calm down, and without special permission or anything they added on for me a lot of time, they brought me a fan and water. In the end, I didn't do well. I already knew this wasn't good, and it already didn't matter to me what would be.

Two days later at home I was paralyzed. I cried. When I remember it now, I already feel tears coming on. This is an awful feeling..."

..."In high school, I never spoke before the class on my own initiative. From being so scared that the teacher would ask me something in class, I would prepare for each class during breaks. I didn't play during break time.  I would get ready for classes since maybe I would be asked a question. This sounds weird, but that's the way I was, mainly before classes where the teachers' custom was to ask the students questions in class. Besides this, I don't remember. Even the content of previous chapters in television series I don't remember. Only when I reminded."

Survival at Any Price

R., 24 years old, General B.A.

..."I check out for myself how each teacher acts. What he pays attention to and what not. What he usually sees. What he doesn't see. I try since then and also today 70% of the time in collecting background material and 30% of the time in doing the project. Until today collecting background material is preparing organized notes, finding the best students in the class already at the beginning of the year, to sit by them, to sit in the right place, copying angles. For example, from the left side it will be hard to copy if he's left handed, it's different if he's right handed. Preparing answers at home, the appropriate answers. This is on a statistical basis, really. This is what I did in high school. I would take the graduation exams from all of the previous years in all of the subjects, check which questions or topics continually appear and I would prepare answers, for questions for each exam, and I was exactly right on each exam. I really did statistical probability without any formula. In general, from all of the material you can get this. You can know almost exactly which questions will be..."

"In everything I do, doesn't matter how I do, how I act, I'm o'kay. I have one goal - doesn't matter one way or the other, people don't matter to me, their opinions don't matter to me, their way of thinking doesn't matter to me. I have the goal and nobody can move me from it, right? I move around and I pass and I'm ready for almost anything - to run over, to lie, and cheat.

Let's assume I'm dyslexic; let's assume I don't fight like this. And in another twenty years I'll be a simple worker. Who cares why? And let's assume that I cheat and get in another twenty years to a high status, and I'm a millionaire, who's going to care how I got there? This won't bother anyone how I got it. People buy school papers, buy degrees. Slowly, slowly when they catch people, you find out that you're not the only one. There are a lot like this. I won't lose an exam because I don't know the material, because I didn't prepare. I prepare myself ahead of time. Nothing is innocent with me - the place I sit, everything, the people I'm in contact with. All of this is far from being innocent."

Dialogue with the Written Word

M., 25 years old, Political Science

..."I always knew, I always felt, that I'm thirsty for knowledge, and I had dilemmas in this matter. There were contradictions, because during the six years of elementary school I almost wasn't present. I don't know if you can add up two years out of all of the six years I was there. I would run away a lot. School seemed to me just like a prison. I would imagine it as if I was breaking through walls and fences. Every escape from school was for me like an escape from Alcatraz. I had a strong feeling that I had to escape from the place that closed me in like a prison."

Key to the Locked Door

G., 23 years old, Biotechnology

..."When they found this dyslexia I was so angry. All of a sudden, all these things started to make sense retroactively. I was so angry that I couldn't write and do assignments, and I always had so many things to say, to express, but I couldn't. Not orally and not in writing. Nothing. If they had found this earlier, how much frustration this would have saved me! All these negative energies that were built up inside. They could have found it earlier and have changed my life, instead of me blaming myself that I don't learn enough."

"I went for an evaluation. They gave me there questions like on a multiple-choice test, yes/no - white/black. I answered, because with this I didn't have a problem, then the examiner thought that I was trying to trick her. She said I don't have anything, and I got so upset that I started crying. Then she told me that I have an emotional problem and she sent me to a psychologist.

"The psychologist checked my IQ because he saw that I thought I was stupid. He thought that there was my problem with my self-worth. After his test he told me that everything is fine, but really nothing was fine. He found that in the verbal section I was in the normal range, nothing special, and in the math section I got very high scores. This terribly frustrated me. I understood that really, like I felt before, with math ability so high, it's a sign that I really can. But on the other hand, in learning this doesn't come out, there I get low scores. This is so frustrating and irritating.

I said to myself - something here's not right, so how did the psychologist say that everything is o'kay with me? Thank you very much that I have this ability, but what do I do with it? They're giving me wonderful cake, but they're locking it up in the refrigerator and are just showing it to me, great that there's a cake inside.

I felt so powerless after this test. Why are telling me something like this at all? It would have been better if you would have just told me that being average is my ability, and that's it. I got so angry when he showed me this. You're a psychologist, aren't you? You're supposed to improve my feeling, not to show me the problem without helping me to find the way to get out of it. I always knew that I'm not an idiot. And after I requested from him recommendations for the school system, what did he tell me? I can't give you any recommendation because you have such a high ability, nobody will believe you that you need leniencies in exams.

He didn't help me at all. He only ruined me. He strengthened my difficult feeling. It's like I came to him with a stomach ache, with appendicitis, so that he should find a way to get over it, and instead of this show's me how big the problem is and that I don't have a solution. It's like he made the problem bigger and shoved it in my face without giving me the key to the lock, so I wouldn't ever know how to open it, so that I would think that there is no key for it."

Taken from the book Key to the Locked Door, Breaking Through the Barrier of Dyslexia, Dr. Amala Einat, United Kibbutz Publishing/Red Line, 2001


Dr. Amala Einat- author, chief expert on the topic of learning disabilities, responsible for the field of emotional support at the Dyslexic Student Support Center of Tel-Hai Academic College, lecturer on of learning disabilities, evaluation, and treatment at the Tel-Hai Academic College.

Among her books:

  • Key to the Locked Door, Breaking Through the Barrier of Dyslexia, United Kibbutz Publishing, Red Line 2001
  • Parents Against the Barrier of Dyslexia, Key for the Locked Door, United Kibbutz Publishing, Red Line 2003
  • The Chanela Method, Cherikover Publishing, 1985
  • Learning Disabilities - The Challenge, Itav Publishing House, 1997


 See also an article of Prof. Einat on Learning disabilities and delinquency (co-authoered with Dr. Tomer Einat).