About 66% of parents of children with learning disabilities believe that kids with learning disabilities are bullied more than other kids. Unfortunately, that was true for 17-year-old Haili Allende. Even though Haili experienced bullying because of her dyslexia and speech impediment, it isn’t stopping her from feeling beautiful.
The Harold T. Branch Academy for Career and Technical Education senior says that her learning disabilities and even her overall appearance were enough to cause her classmates to tease her when she was younger.
Haili spoke with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times about her past with learning disabilities.
“I do have dyslexia and a speech impediment. That doesn’t make me any less than anyone else,” Haili said. “It shouldn’t give people the right to judge me.”
Haili said she was bullied and teased so badly that she wouldn’t eat and would wake up extra early during the week to put makeup on and straighten her hair. However, the habits quickly changed after a loved one told her that everyone and everything has some beauty. She realized that she needed to make a change in her thinking, not her appearance, and no longer let what others were saying about her get to her head.
The average American woman will change her hairstyle hundreds of times over her lifetime, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with a makeover. In fact, about 61% of women say they have changed their hair style simply because they “just wanted a change.” Of course, that doesn’t mean teens should feel pressured to change their appearance just to fit in.
Now, Haili doesn’t wake up early to do her hair and makeup. She realized that there is nothing wrong with having a learning disability and that her brain was just wired a different way.
By changing her attitude and overcoming issues, Haili was awarded the honor of being named a 2017 Caller-Times/Citgo South Texas Distinguished Scholar in the Spirit category.
Patricia Villarreal, a social studies teacher at Haili’s school, said that the award is usually given to someone on the drill or cheerleading team.
“But as I mentioned in my nomination essay, there is more than one type of spirit and Haili exhibits the type of spirit that we rarely see in a person who has faced demeaning bullying,” Villarreal said.
Haili wants to get involved in the medical field, but also wants to be a part of the Air Force. She has a grade point average of 3.83 and is currently ranked ninth in her graduating class.