Updated: Jun 23
By Marjory E. Leposky
This article was first published as “Through Words” (essay), Wild Women’s Medicine Circle (Journal) (Volume 1) Paperback – October 12, 2017
When I was in pre-school, my teachers caught on to the fact that I wasn’t learning my numbers and colors like my classmates. Back in the late 1970s, many children with learning disabilities weren’t diagnosed until high school or college, if ever. I was one of the lucky ones to be diagnosed so young, and my mother was my advocate until I was old enough to take over for myself.
In elementary school, despite my disability, I fell in love with reading. Through books, I was able to travel and meet new people. Other children were cruel, and I was bullied. The minute they found out that I was not good at something simple, like spelling, they held it over me. Even today, some people don’t understand. They think it is dyslexia or some other catchy new medical term.
At the end of high school, I started to deal with my test-taking issues. I found that reading a novel before a test was an excellent way for me to prepare calmly. I was accepted to and finally graduated from Miami Dade College (MDC).
I applied to MDC because they would work with me to provide note-takers, tutoring, extended time on tests, and a quiet room in which I could use a computer to type essays. It was the early 90s, and the Americans with Disabilities Act had only recently gone into effect. Other colleges I explored still had not complied with the Act and told me to go away.
College took me five years – not so bad for a person with learning disabilities. Because I had read so much in high school, reading was one of the classes I didn’t have to take on a remedial level, and MDC placed me in a college-level reading class. Later I transferred to Florida State University, another school adhering to the Americans with Disabilities Act, where I majored in Communications – Media Production and minored in Business.
After graduation, I went to Los Angeles for an internship and immediately ran into walls related to my learning disabilities. I had the right personality for the job, but I had message-taking issues. (The next time you leave a message with a human or on voicemail, remember to speak slowly and clearly when reciting your name and phone number.)
Luckily I found work in the film industry and spent two years in Los Angeles working on sets for TV/film production, which was a lot easier than working in an office.
When I returned to Miami, I went back to MDC and took a few film classes. One was a scriptwriting class. Yes, me, writing scripts, with all my writing and spelling issues – but it happened with the help of scriptwriting program Final Draft. The program has a feature that reads everything back to you, helping you to catch your misspelled words, using one word when you meant to use another, leaving out suffix and gerund endings, and more.
In 2009 a stray kitten appeared in my family’s front yard. I spent most of that spring trying to catch him and eventually succeeded. Because he is mostly black, my mother named him Guy Noir after a character from the radio program A Prairie Home Companion.
With my new screenwriting skills, I wrote an animation script about the kitten. It needed a creative name. Since Guy Noir grumbles when he eats, sleeps, plays, and purrs, I gave him the nickname Mr. Grumbles. I have since turned the script into a children’s book.
I want to use Mr. Grumbles to help children with their literacy and reading skills, while also helping kittens and cats get new homes by pairing readings with adoption events.