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Awareness Day Dyslexia: "Sometimes i have to think long and hart abot wich leters to start with"

Dyslexics experience many moments of shame, especially at school. At some point, Kai West Schlosser decided not to let this bother him anymore.
Dyslexics experience many moments of shame, especially at school. At some point, Kai West Schlosser decided not to let this bother him anymore.
© Kai West Schlosser / stern
We asked a dyslexic to write an article for us. Kai West Schlosser shares his experiences with us, for him this text was hard work. We publish it 1:1.
By Kai West Schlosser

Hello, I’m kai and I hate wrigthing and reading is just as crapy. To all thows who red just as unwillingly, i apologise alrdy for the length of the artikle. the stern wantet me to witht 3000 caracters atleast. in normal cases it wuld be 3000 to many for me. but it ended up bing 13000 but that was also painfull and tuck almost a ful year. to al thows who wul now like to use the red pen to proof read me — you have problems, not me. i am a prod dislexic and no one can take that away from me.

Dislexia – every tenth perosn has it but hardly annyone knows what it realy means to go threw life without a gret understaning of wrigtten langwige. that to on dilexia awarnes day and kniowone know when it is.

Kai West Schlosser standing on a bridge wearing sunglasses and smiling
Kai West Schlosser is 22 years old and dyslexic. If you have problems to understand some words in his text, read them out loud. That will help.
© Johanna Stoye

I am 22, and red and wrigt like a 1st graider

No, this is not a desize i got as a child and no, i am not stupid. dislexia is a jenetic and conjinital disorder that massivley complicates the link between the spoken and withen lnagwige and the reverse. my brain prosesses wrigthen langwige in a dirent way than someone without dislexia, but slower and less acuratly. dislexia exists in all degrees, and every dislexic feals it dirently. but diagnosed or not, one is consistantly disavantiged. 

I always read everything out loud to mycelf, stuttering and stammering, and i often miss red it. With my tipe of dislexia, the letters move and blure intoechother. so the repeted reading of my own rwitten texts is just as dificuld for me as reding properly wrigthren texts. 

Dyslexia

September 30th is the nationwide day of dyslexia and dyscalculia in Germany. Analogous to our author's text, we limit ourselves here to the topic of dyslexia, the reading and spelling disorder that makes it difficult to learn to read and write. There is usually no cure for dyslexia, but with the help of targeted and early support, the difficulties in reading and writing can be significantly reduced.

Dislexia efects me in every written langwige

when i wrigth, its like seeing and wrigthing th word for the firt time in my live. sometimes i have to think long and had abot wich letters to start with. i am eected by dislexia in every written langwige and wih some symbols and expresions in dayly life. since i dount read very much my vocabulrauy as wel as formal and written sencentes and punctuation are verry diiculd for me. i wrigth as i speek usualy wich exlemation marks! 

Since reading is realy painfull for me, i have not jet fin ished a book inm my life and i scrowl down 3 times with my thump on my phone for every artikle i want to read. If ist longer i close it. 

Keyboard with wrong spelling
Kai West Schlosser has managed to get along without correct spelling in his professional life
© Kai West Schlosser

Volenterly, i dount read annything 

At christmas, my mother culd leave the list of gifts on the kiton table, beachsue i wuld not have thagth to read annything volenterly. my dad, on the otherhand, has to deal with the fact that i wroth his name wrogn on gifts. 

Ritht and left is also super hard for me. So bad that the signing L with the hand make the situvation even harder. in the driving test, my driving instructor drew L&R on my hands, but neverthe less i got them wrong 3 times. 

School – a buch of unejicatedt ejucators

In the fist satndard, i neded abot 5 hours for my homeowrk, and stil got everithing wrong. Im contrast to my primary school techers, it was cler to my mother that i had dislexia. with out her incuregment i wuld have probabley ben iliturate. The techers, on the otherhand, where firmley convinced taht i was eher lasy or stupid until the 4th grade. Teachers in the german schoolsistem hardly atend any further trainigs on topics related to lerning dificultys and disabiletys, and therfor have nether the abilety not the intrest to indentifie and suport thes at an erly stage. insted they are trained once, and strikteley superwised during there trianiship. Afterthat only resive casual calss vistis from there superwizer. they dount know hoe to recognize and deal with dislexia and other problems, but they all want a secure position until they retire. 

Being a techer is surtently not a esay job but in a susiety where sertificates and graes determan the intire future of a person, the recognition and suport of individual problems must be the minimum. At the age of 10 in 4th grade, life is desided for you based on youre grades. For me, it was mittelschule (te 9-yer school program) and you cant reley do annything about it. even befor i had my dislexia sertificate, with my mothers help and moths of preparation, i managed to pass the entrance exame for the gymnasium (te 12-year shool program). How I acehived it is still a mistery to me. 

Although Kai's school days weren't that long ago, his teachers didn't realize that he had dyslexia
Although Kai's school days weren't that long ago, his teachers didn't realize that he had dyslexia
© Kai West Schlosser

Peple in wealchares dount get grades for 100-meter sprint, but i always got "F"s in dictation

After the complete falure of my elementry school, i was disgned with dislexia shortley before my transition to the gymnasium. As a result, I got an aditonal 20% time bonus in exams and the posibileti to get somthing red out loud and my spelling wuld not be greded. At that time it was a lifechanging step – the graddes where better and school was not so shitty annymore. Than came latin. 

As a US-american who grew up bilingwaly, englisch was esay for me and as a 2nd foran alngwige, i was forbidden by the school to take french. no joke. they said i wuld neer be able to wrigth that. since my school otherwize oferd latin i had no other coise. as an auditory lernener, latin was ofcorese the stupidedst thing for me as it is a ded, unspoken langwige. if you then add the 1000 endings that made the words look so much difrent vsualy, you have no clu what the word is spoposte to mean. with 4h a week, i still only got a F so i relay lost the desire, pasitions and will. that went on for a frew years, every year close to faled. But with an extra volentery presentation before the end of the year in every subject, i was berly able to pass. 

"Oh dount make such a fuss" 

As the school presedent, i was forced to wrigth a protocul in the meatings with the princibal. Nobody was intrested in knowing wether this was hard for me or not, so i was not isnrested that the protocol was usefull or not. 

At the beginging of the school year i was responsible for ejucating mosut of my "well trained" teachers what dislexia is and how they culd suport me regarless of wethr they had 30 years of teaching expereance or had just come out of traineeship. 

As the first and only diagnoed dislexic in the schol at the time i did not understand why i had to explain there job to them. And i rely wonderd what kind of problem i must have if no one elce knew aboot it. today is is strit up scarry to me that thees anejucated peple shud ejucate the future elite of our contry without beeing able to suport individualy needs properly. Note: not all teachers are ignorant and uninformed. I also had superb teachers to whome i owe alot to this day but unfortunaltl, there wherent manny. 

At that time, i was the class clound. But the real joke is the school system. teachers can only teach what what there tagth and whatb they are tagth is only what is in the ciriculum. in order for germany anf the next gerneration of germans to remane competetive internatonaly, the schools system needs a gerneral overhaul and just an update wount do. this was verry cler form the pandemic. 

Autocorrect can't correct wrong written words
As helpful as some tools are nowadays, they proved to be impractical for Kai West Schlosser
© Kai West Schlosser

Newly inrolled at 16 

In 11th gare, i swiched from the draditonal ABI to the international Bacaloriat (IB) — an equivalent english based school system. the IB is tagth in englich, frensch and spaanish in moust internatonal schools including the UN school in New York. It is more dificuld than the ABI but it is known for supporting peple with individual needs and finding personlalised solutions. 

Everyone can cuse from 57 dirent curses — 3 mager and 3 minor — in dirent categorys such as math, langwige, sience, creative & more. in adition you can have extra subjetcts and vollentear hours that must bee compleeded for graduation. In my case, i was able to take fine arts, economics and bilogy as magors and math, german and english as minors. 

After the fist week i was cald to meat christan, the director of studdys, in his oice. i knew from my expereance in my old school that this wuld mean trubble. but this time everything was compleetley dirent. Christian pulle out a long list of IB regulations that where ment for peple with lerning disabilletys and added that if there was somthing missing which culd help me lern better, we culd request it individualy from the IB. For the fist time in my life, i had the fealng that the school sistem was not working against me but was trying to give all students the same opertunety to lern. i got dictation and reding sofwhere for my laptop, audio books for my manditory reading material and for the exams, i had a scribe – a perosn who sat next to me, read me the question and helped me wrigth the ancers. Infacked, a scribe is not allowed to add annything, it is just aperson who writhes and reads for me. The 2 years passed quikley, my gares where still not great but i was finaly able to keep up. i tuck all the final egsams oraly and the sribe wrote down my ancers so they culd be graded like the others. 

"Use autocorect"

Autocorect is pretty cool, especaly the way it adaps tyo create an indicidual improvment sistem for you. to bad ist dosent work for me. since i wrigth words mosutley dirently the program is totaly confused and cant always sujest the wrigth things to me. the sujestions are so dirent that ofthem i can tell them apart. like for example if i wrigth the word "board", i get sugestions like bored, broad, bread, beared, boards. Finding the wrigth one is quite dificuld. 

But if the wrong word is automatikley inserded and it looks wrigth to me i will not doaunt it. in a text in wich everything is written incoretley, it is clear to the reader that the context goes above the spelling. if haowever, the text is written corectly but a word mey meen somthing compleetley dirent than what it is supose to be, the reader dosent relay question it and the sencece suddentley takes on a complettley dirent meaning. this has oten happend to me. For example, one time the word "horn" was changed to "whore" and sudentley my essay was about sex workers. 

The signature in Kai's e-mails
The signature in Kai's e-mails
© Kai West Schlosser

I had no coice and bekame creative 

Manny dislexics are considert verry creative becasue there brains think dirently and tey find solutions in unconventonal ways. there is sientific evedance for this but if you look at history creative peple who stand out are mostely dislexic like steve jobs, albert einstein, walt diseny leonardo davinci, john lenon, pablo picasso & more. 

In my case, i was verry faud of fine arts and it was diiculd for me to read or writh. So, i focused moust of my time on it. You culd almoust say I fowd my talent threw ilimination. In comperason to mosut others, i knew directley after school exactley what i wanted to do and compleeted a coure in artdirection wich was 100% hands on. I dount have a bacalor degree but i dount want it annymore becasue such an ejucation is not nessesary or important for my job and never has been. 

I cant imagen woking without dislexia annymore

Today i work as an art director in the small innovation team of a big agensy. spelling dosent matter here. every day I rigth emials to cauliges and clients – everyone knows im dislexic an noone cares.

To everyone who ever told me that jobs like this dount exist – youre wrong. They exist in masses and everywhere in the world. hate and negative atitude of others can be transformed into motivation. dount bring yourecelf down based on what others say. I"m glad that there are imployers like mine who understand that there are more important things than spelling. Today my mother uses what she lernd threw my struggle and helps others atend classes as a scribe. My mom is my superhere without a cape!

Here you can follow Kai on Instagram.

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