Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Student overcomes challenges with dyslexia to excel in art

Lizzie Snell, senior in fine arts, was in third grade when she was diagnosed with dyslexia. It was, for the longest time, a source of embarrassment for her.

The fear of being different was often a burden too heavy to bear, and Snell said she often worried about being made fun of as a child.

“When I was younger, I always kept it to myself because I thought people would treat me differently,” she said. “I didn’t even tell my best friends about it.”

Snell is one of the millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. The condition, which was originally documented as “word blindness,” affects an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. population, according to a February 4 article in the New York Times by Annie Murphy Paul.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities defines dyslexia as a “language processing disorder” which can “hinder reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes even speaking.” NCLD experts also state on their website that the neurological disorder causes the brain to “process and interpret information differently.”

“The way I think of it, is it makes it harder for me to retain information,” Snell said. “I’m capable of doing things like math and reading, I just have to work like 10 times harder to get there.”

Snell’s mother, Kerri, said that despite the challenges she faced, she never held Snell to a different standard than her other three kids.

“We always expected each of our four kids to do their very best,” Kerri said. “Lizzie always worked 100 times harder than her siblings did on school work. I never lowered my expectations for Lizzie.”

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