Can’t you read the signs?

Atta and I took the boys and two of their friends out for dinner on Saturday.  While they were waiting for their pizza, they started to play a version of hangman.  (This version doesn’t require paper and pencil; you just guess letters until you eventually get the word.)

Zach and the other two boys chose words like map, Venezuela, and time.   I was worried when it was Ezra’s turn because the only thing he is worse at than reading is spelling.  I wasn’t sure he’d be able to think of a word easy enough to spell.  When he said exit, I thought, “We-ell, al-right Ez.”

His second word took us awhile to guess even though it only had three letters.  At one point, I said, “But Ezra, we’ve guessed all of the vowels and you said no to every one. Every word has to have a vowel.”

“Not this one.”

It turned out to be CVS.

That was certainly unconventional.  As I was trying to figure out why he would pick such an odd “word,” Atta tilted her head toward the window and said, “His next word will probably be pharmacy.”

Aaahhh.  I looked out the large restaurant window and read the store sign across the street, the sign for CVS Pharmacy.  And while I was looking in that direction, I saw the sign above the door to the street, the Exit sign.

Like so many dyslexics before him, Ezra finds ways around his issues with decoding and spelling.  Unfortunately, those clever work-arounds tend to reinforce dyslexics’ self-image as dummies.  Their take-away isn’t, “Even though I can’t read, I came up with a brilliant strategy to play the game and not let anyone know I’m struggling to keep up.” Instead, it’s, “Only stupid kids have to read signs to come up with words.  I’m stupid and I better hide it so that no one else finds out.”

Still, Atta and I had a good laugh at his choices.  We know how great he is, even if he’s not yet convinced.


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