Hi, I’m Katey Fortun. Here’s a story about me and My Different Ability.
Growing up in a small town in western Wisconsin, life was good. I had wonderful parents, a great little sister that I fought with every day, lived the country life, it really couldn’t get much better than that.
School had always been a struggle. I always seemed to get A’s and B’s in school, great right? No one knew what went on every night after school to get homework done.
When my mom would get home from work, she would make my sister and I dinner and then sit at the kitchen table with me to help with my homework. By the end of the night when my dad got home from his construction job, he would find my mom and I crying at the kitchen table. Like I said above, I had A’s and B’s in school, I listened in school, I got all of my homework done, I was a great student. Nothing could be wrong with me right? But every single night I struggled, we struggled.
My mom being an amazing reader has told me, it was so difficult for her to work with me on homework every night. I would know a word in one sentence and then I wouldn’t know the same word in the next sentence. I can’t imagine how frustrating that would be for someone that can read a book in one day like my mom can. I can still close my eyes and see my mom and I at the kitchen table crying together during those long, stressful, exhausting nights. I think where things changed was when my sister, who is three years younger than me, was a stronger reader than I was. I was falling through the cracks!
After, what I can only assume, many countless meetings with the school and teachers, my mom decided to take matters into her own hands. I still thank God and my mom to this day that she works at an amazing organization where I was able to go in for testing. Please note, this testing was not covered by insurance and it was not cheap. It was paid for out of the pockets of my two amazing parents!
The summer between 4th and 5th grade I went in for testing. I don’t remember a lot from that day but I do remember specific visual things. I remember walking down low ceiling hallway, where we walked on horrible mint green colored tile. I remember the doctor being very tall and the chair I sat in had brown itchy fabric with wood arms. The room was small, there was a table attached to the wall next to me with a computer on it and the lighting was dim. That’s all I remember from that day.
My mom told me within ten minutes of the doctor being with me, he came out into the waiting room and told her, “Katey is Dyslexic. We will go through all of the testing to make sure we know the areas she needs help in but I know for a fact she is Dyslexic.” After all of the testing was complete they brought my mom into the room to go through the whole diagnosis and talk about next steps. I do not remember this but my mom told me that the doctor asked me “Katey, what are you going to tell your friends when you get back to school?” and I replied “I’m going to tell them that I just learn differently!”
I just learn differently! I mean come on, how simple and perfect is that?
Now, don’t worry I’ll post more about My Different Ability journey from back then through today later. But I want to fast forward to 2014, when I was asked to be the Keynote speaker at a conference for the Transition Advisory Council. I decided to have both of my parents speak with me at this event seeing we would be speaking to students and their parents. It was an incredible event and that day changed my life and my outlook on My Different Ability.
I started out the Keynote with my story, part of which I told above. Then my dad spoke and my mom after him. Each of them told their sides of my story. What was so impactful was looking out into the audience, seeing parents crying when my parents spoke. It hit me then, it’s not just my story, it’s their story too! They have always been apart of it and each of them have a different story. My mom spoke about the difficulties of being an avid reader and seeing me struggle. She talked about the tearful nights, every single night struggling to get my homework done. She also gave the audience hope. She talked about my accomplishments, she talked about how proud she was. I could see the parents eyes light up in the crowd. Now, there was one thing my dad said that I will never forget and it will stay with me forever! He said, “The day Katey found out she was Dyslexic, was the day I found out I was Dyslexic too!” My dad talked about his struggles in school, which were so similar to mine. He talked about how he learned about himself watching me through my journey.
Both of my parents are incredible people! I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. They have always told me I can do anything I put my mind to, with a lot of hard work, determination and never giving up! They always encouraged me to dream big… and dreaming big is what I do to this very day!
I guess to finish my very first blog post, which is very personal and very honest… I want everyone to know: We are all different. We all have Different Abilities. Love your Different Abilities. Love and accept others differences. The more we do that I believe the world will be brighter and a more beautiful place to live!
It’s not my disability, it’s My Different Ability! –Katey