Teen wins dyslexia award, now advocates for others

Ainsley Proctor understands the challenges that many kids with learning differences face — because she’s faced them, too. Proctor has dyslexia, and when she was younger, she thought it might stand in her way. Instead, her experiences have led her to action.

Proctor, a high school sophomore, has been working to inspire students with dyslexia and bring about change in schools. Now, her efforts are being recognized. Proctor has been awarded the Remy Johnston Certificate of Merit for 2018.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) gives the annual award to a student with dyslexia who serves as a role model for others. The group looks for students who show resilience and who are involved in their community.

Proctor says she’s honored to receive the award: “When I got the letter in the mail, I was thrilled!”

As a young child, Proctor didn’t think about getting awards or recognition. She worried that she’d never be able to succeed at school. But that started to change as her reading skills improved with specialized instruction designed for kids with dyslexia.

By high school, Proctor knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids with dyslexia. She got an internship with a Virginia state senator who was lobbying for stronger dyslexia laws. She became the only student member of the special education advisory committee of the Virginia Beach school board. She’s also a founding member of the Hampton Roads chapter of Decoding Dyslexia.

Proctor may not have always had the confidence she does today. But she had a positive attitude and a desire to succeed, according to her mother Lynn.

Lynn wanted to make sure her daughter had the support she needed to achieve that success. The school was providing accommodations and services through an . But Lynn was concerned that it couldn’t provide the type of instruction that’s best for kids with dyslexia.

She was able to hire a reading specialist trained in the Wilson Reading System. This program is one of a number that use the Orton–Gillingham approach to teach struggling readers. Wilson is used in some schools, as well as by private tutors.

Having the right type of support and instruction allowed Proctor to overcome many of the obstacles created by dyslexia. It hasn’t been easy, but Proctor says having dyslexia has taught her many things. “It’s helped me develop a work ethic, she says. “It’s taught me the ability to stick with things that don’t come easy.”

Get inspired by more dyslexia success stories. For instance, learn about a “teen hero” with dyslexia who met Kate Middleton and Prince William.

About the author

About the author

Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.