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Emirati Teen’s Struggle

ABU DHABI // Mohamed Al Nowais spent most of his childhood moving from school to school.

He was slow to catch on to subjects and lacked concentration, especially when it came to maths.

The Emirati, from Abu Dhabi, even had to repeat a year because he was so far behind in his studies.

His teachers thought he was lazy, but it was later discovered he has dyslexia, a learning disability.

“I still suffer a bit but I overcame my issue,” said Mohamed, now 18.

“I hated reading in front of people as I was embarrassed. I couldn’t read as fast as the other students did and had to take my time.”

Mohamed’s first years in school passed in silence. He did not speak in class or to his classmates.

“I was very shy and very quiet, I rarely spoke in class and was hesitant to answer any questions,” Mohamed said. “I was extremely conscious of speaking in front of the class.”

It was suspected his problems stemmed from poor vision and he started wearing spectacles when he was in grade 4.

“But that didn’t totally fix the problem,” Mohamed said.

It was not until he was 12 on a family holiday to the United States that his family discovered the root of his troubles.

After visiting an educational centre and taking a series of written, reading and visual tests, he was told he had dyslexia.

“They started working with me to develop my skills in writing, pronunciation and how to spell,” he said. “From then on, I challenged myself to become better.”

Mohamed began a two-month programme at the US centre, specifically designed for his needs.

Six years on, he said he had changed for the better.

“I changed completely. I became more social and the top of my class,” he said. “My relationships with my teachers helped me. I was confident to walk to their offices and ask for help.”

Mohamed is ready to continue his higher education and hopes to study international relations in the US.

“I have good communication skills and I’m no longer shy – I can interact with people,” he said.

He fully supports his mother in opening the Ta’leem centre for dyslexic youngsters.

“That is what I want to do,” he said.