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Unable to read as a teen, this 22-year-old is now a PhD student


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Cerith Gardiner - published on 03/10/21

Being diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia proved life-changing for William Carter.

School life can be hard for any child, but if you add severe learning difficulties into the mix it can be unbearable. This was the case for William Carter, who really struggled throughout his primary education. To make things worse, he was ridiculed by classmates for his learning difficulties.

At 13, he was still unable to read. However, when he was properly diagnosed with severe dyslexia and dyspraxia his education turned around.

Carter managed to eventually gain a first-class degree in politics and international relations at Bristol University in England. After receiving a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, he is now studying for a PhD in political geography at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Learning how to read and write made the world more intelligible to me and, ultimately, made me more intelligible to the world,” the academic shared with the BBC.

Considering Carter spent so long without being properly diagnosed makes his achievements even more incredible. The process to have special needs recognized by an educational body can be exhausting. With multiple meetings and endless visits to medical professionals, it can be demoralizing for both children and their parents.

Yet as soon as the diagnosis is made, life becomes more bearable for the child, with lessons and materials adapted to give them a chance to grasp what they are trying to learn. The fact that Carter’s achievements are so impressive demonstrates how capable kids with special needs truly are.

Carter seems almost grateful for his learning disabilities. He believes “fundamentally, dyslexia made me who I am today.”

The Londoner’s goal is to become a professor of political theory and Black geographies and then follow a career in politics. He aims to correct a system that he feels is lacking: “The fact that I, through luck and the support of others, ‘made it’ in spite of social-economic barriers, shouldn’t justify our system and society.”

In appreciating the opportunities he was given, Carter will no doubt be a brilliant advocate for other children facing inequality at school and an inspiration for other youngsters and their parents.


Read more:
How I’m dealing with my child’s recent autism diagnosis

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