1995 Brutal Truth: Fraud

Fraud

Up until 1995, I was unknowingly suffering from dyslexia. This is my brutal truth.

Being accused of fraud was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Fraud.  This is exactly how I felt attending University; a fraud.  Somehow, I managed to graduate high school with a GPA that snagged an acceptance to my preferred post-secondary education establishment.  This was a feat within itself because…

I pulled through high school without reading a single book cover to cover.

My trick? Well, I took impeccable notes, that only I could translate and I made a point of writing essays that regurgitated the opinions of my teachers as discussed in class. I wore a path in the library carpet directly to the Cole’s Note section and specifically chose books that had been made to film, no matter how obscure. Imagine what I could have done if Google had existed back then. Anyway, all of my diversions to reading worked like a charm. Or so I had thought.

Until the day I was asked to stay after one of my first-year university tutorials.

Upon hearing my name, I froze; in spite of the heat that instantly brightened my face and the pulse that throbbed hotly scorching my veins, I could not move. This should not have come as a complete surprise. After all,  everyone but me had had their midterm papers returned to them at the end of class.

My T.A was about five years my senior; a fact that made the ‘no-notice’ discussion bearable. Well, far less intimidating than if it had been my professor that is.  As I approached the vacant seat reserved for me, she slid papers from a folder. Immediately, I recognized them as two of my own assignments.  One had been a five page, take home article; typed double spaced as required.  The other was a handwritten, in-class essay.

Hey, it was the nineties.

She tapped her capped pen on the typed title page. “Who wrote this?”

The question shocked me into silence. It was a long moment before I closed my mouth and blinked the dryness from my eyes.

“I did.” My response was not more than a squeaky whisper.

This, I had not expected. I had assumed and prepared for a bad mark and…

yet another conversation that gently suggested that I drop out of the class.  

See, dreadfully low grades mess with the bell curve and no professor wants that.  Thankfully, final grades depend on more than just the written component or I would never have made it out of fourth grade. It was always the shining marks I earned through oral presentations, class discussions and in group work that pushed me through.

See, dreadfully low grades mess with the bell curve and no professor wants that.  Thankfully, final grades depend on more than just the written component or I would never have made it out of fourth grade. It was always the shining marks I earned through oral presentations, class discussions and in group work that pushed me through.

“You didn’t get someone else to write this?” She peered at me without expression.
Dyslexic Writer; Brutal Truth 1995. Fraud
fraud

 

As the implication of what she was suggesting sank in, the stinging strain of tears flooded my vision.  My balled fists began to tremble beneath the table top with the hopelessness of my predicament. All I could do was shake my head. My future hung in the balance and under her severe scrutiny I was crumbling.  Finally, she sighed and pushed back into her chair.
 
“Then explain the drastic difference between these two papers.”
 

“Prep time and spell check.” I deadpanned without missing a beat.

 
Straightening again, she bounced her pen relentlessly upon my in-class essay.  It was a blur of blue arching from her fingers. Was she weighing her words or measuring my response? Suddenly the tapping stopped and the uncomfortable silence brought my eyes to her’s.
 

“This one is unreadable.”

 
I knew that she was not talking about my hand writing. It was my countless spelling errors and nonsensical rambling.  When writing, my thoughts stream so rapidly that the ink is unable to keep up. What is worse, is that I am blind to my own errors.  When I was able to type assignments,  leaving them to the last minute was never an option. My first draft was often in point form to get all of my ideas down. The second draft, I would string those points altogether into a coherent format. Then, I forget about it for as many days as possible.  The time I allotted was literally so that I could forget. My words needed to fall from my memory and sentence structure grow unfamiliar so that I could edit it better.
 
I was holding my breath waiting. Waiting to be expelled for fraud or being kicked from the program for being too stupid the belong.
Her next words changed everything. 

“You, my dear, are dyslexic.”

 
With that, she stacked my papers and aligned them perfectly by tersely dropping the edges on the table top with a clap. The expression she wore was unreadable as she trusted the sheets towards me. 
“I strongly recommend that you make an appointment to be evaluated at the learning disability center. “
 
I took little notice of my T.As leaving but she must have. Once I had composed myself, I realized that I was sitting a lone in the cavernous classroom. Relief washed over me. I wasn’t going to be expelled.  And did I dare be hopeful with the idea of being evaluated at the learning disability center?
 

I am dyslexic and this my brutal truth.