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People with Reading Disabilities

I have a reading disability and really want to read the RC literature and share my thinking on the RC e-mail lists—and that’s very hard to do.

Being a raised poor and working-class Cherokee Southern (U.S.) woman, I struggle with feeling smart, and my reading disability makes that much harder.

As a young person I learned to look and act comfortable with reading so as not to get special attention for my disability. Catholic martyrdom, not wanting to be viewed as “stupid,” and being an actress let me slide by, struggling silently.

When I started RC, I was given copies of articles every week in my fundamentals class. The unread articles piled up, as did my frustration. No one else looked worried about reading. I felt not smart enough to be in RC.

A few weeks into my class the teacher had everyone read a paragraph out loud. I was terrified. My palms got sweaty. I felt sick and wanted to leave the room and leave RC. But I suffered in silence and forced myself to read out loud.

After years of practice, I’m surprised at how many feelings come up when I’m asked to read. The ageist, academic, classist, “mental health” pile of oppression provides a rich well for discharging.

Having a reading disability usually isn’t visible. When I tell people that my mind works differently and reading and writing are a struggle, I get comments like, “Really? You’re so smart. I would never have guessed.”

I have been in RC for ten years and tried a bunch of things I’m pleased with:

  • I talk about my disability when I teach fundamentals and read out loud to my class while showing how terrified I am.
  • I’ve created one-page illustrated handouts to share RC theory and my thinking with my classes.
  • I model for an artist friend to create a space in my life in which to read Present Time. I’m not alone, I get around my feelings that reading is a “waste of time,” and I can share RC theory with a friend.
  • I’ve asked RC buddies to have dates with me to read and discharge.
  • When asked to read out loud in an RC setting, I always say, “No!” with great delight and laughter. And sometimes I choose to read anyway.
  • I let myself cry as much as I need to when I have to write lots of e-mails.
  • I took on [undertook] writing this article as a project. It took three and a half years, and I did it for me—not because anyone told me to.

Here are things our RC Community can think about and do:

  • How and why do we print out articles? Is there a more engaging and interactive way to share RC thinking in our classes?
  • We can host a Community class about reading and writing and discharge on the early distress.
  • We can host a writing work party after workshops to create space for people to write down their thinking and discharge.
  • When selling RC literature at workshops, we can be aware of the assumptions we might make about how people learn. We can get more excited about the CDs.
  • We can support each other. After every workshop I’ve attended I’ve been asked to share my thinking with Present Time. It is re-emergent to share my thinking, but writing is an epic undertaking. In making such a request, folks can offer a session on what support the person may need and then offer that support. If they’re not willing to do that, they shouldn’t make the request.

Reading is a key way we share our thinking in RC, and for some of us it’s a huge challenge. So thank you, whoever you are, for taking the time to read my thinking. If it was easy or not, know that you are backing [supporting] me in reclaiming my mind and I appreciate you.

Suzannah Park

Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Last modified: 2019-05-21 23:41:29+00