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Valley Life for All: Better understanding dyslexia and its challenges

Annie Uyehara
For the Vail Daily
Anavey Vigil has faced the challenge of dyslexia since she began to read at the age of 6.
Annie Uyehara/Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: The Vail Daily, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, continues a monthly series of profiles to increase awareness of the value of people of all abilities.

“Yialsexd” is what Anavey Vigil might see when she reads the word, “dyslexia,” which is the challenge she’s faced since she began to read at the age of 6.

Dyslexia affects one in every five people and is a disorder that involves difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters and other symbols, but that doesn’t affect general intelligence. Vigil explains there’s many variations of dyslexics. “Mine is pretty rare. When I read, the lines on the paper go sideways or letters turn into numbers or the letters will be wavy.”



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When Anavey was diagnosed in kindergarten, her mother, Christine Demers, was scared and knew little about dyslexia. “My biggest focus was to keep her confident. It’s a lifelong challenge that you have to adapt to.”

Christine quickly learned that Anavey could learn through touch. “I’d write a letter on her hand or draw it on her back, or with play dough, and she learned that way.”



When she realized she read differently from others, Anavey’s biggest challenge was believing she wasn’t dumb. “I felt I couldn’t do anything.”

She was pulled out of school electives to learn to read with others with speech challenges. “In middle school, I’d just say, I’m smarter than you, and I just have a cooler class than you do,” Anavey says, lifting her chin and smiling.

“NoticeAbility” motivational speaker and dyslexic, Dean Bragonier, believes dyslexics are prone to excel in the areas of entrepreneurship, architecture, engineering and the arts. Anavey agrees and loves to dance and wants to be an interior designer after college.

Says Christine, “I used to think she’d have to find a path that would work for her, but now, I feel she can do anything she wants.”

“With a lot of work,” adds Anavey. “I’m strong. I’ve had people say I can’t do anything, but I work really hard.”

Currently, she attends Gow, a high school in New York for dyslexics. “I feel like I’m not alone anymore. We can joke about dyslexia and know everyone’s going through the same thing.”

With any challenge, there’s a desire to be better understood. “Dyslexia is one of the hardest things, but it’s a different way to look at things. We all learn differently, but we’re all intelligent in our own way,” Anavey said. “It takes us longer to learn something the average way, but we’re not dumb. We work so hard every day. At Gow, we say, we all have our superpower, but we all use respect, kindness and hard work.”


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