Gustavus Adolphus student Anna Pozdnyakov, 19, of Saint Peter, Minnesota wants media outlets and peers to stop speaking down on people living with dyslexia such as herself.
“It's also looked at as something funny,” she said.
Many young people in Generation Z heard about dyslexia initially through a 2011 ad on the Disney Channel in which a young TV star of the network, Bella Thorne told audiences about how dyslexia affects her.
Anna shares her experience in relation to the ad, “we all genuinely laughed about it, because it was a funny commercial. Then in the following years, I got diagnosed.” She explains, “when I told my sister, she laughed about it. She was just like, ‘Oh you're like Bella Thorne.’”
This widespread message that Disney Channel sends out affects the public’s perception of dyslexia, especially for Anna. She shared that even today, when people find out she has dyslexia, there tends to be one of two reactions. People tend to either laugh it off like dyslexia is not something serious, or they take it to the other end of the spectrum, labeling her and making sure they don’t give her anything to read for fear of challenging her.
For Anna Pozdnyakov, she urges news and media outlets to think before addressing those with disabilities. “There's always a weird stigma that we aren't human and that there's something else wrong with us and that we aren't people,” she said. “Make sure that schools are following good accommodations that actually help their peers and students. Rather than just be like, ‘Go sit in this room, and do your homework by yourself.’ Because that's what a lot of accommodations are.”