By this time in June, everyone should have a special graduation story of their own, but I wanted to save one to share with you.
A few weeks ago, my son graduated from a public high school in California and will begin his freshman year at UC Berkeley in the fall.
I share this information not to brag as a proud father, but to be instructive and hopeful — especially if you have a child who is dyslexic.
That was my son’s hardship. Half-White, half-Asian, with a Latino last name. Racism? Diversity? That was no problem for my mixed-race son.
But dyslexia nearly sank him.
Indeed, we were told he would never be better than a C-student, let alone be accepted in the top public university in California.
My wife and I were told as early as my son’s third-grade year (and by more than one teacher) that he would never really read well enough to succeed in school.
They were essentially saying he wasn’t college material.
Mind you, my son wasn’t dumb. IQ tests showed he actually was quite bright, but with a variation in how the brain perceives the world.
We also had the misfortune of being in a small, predominantly White suburban school district. I don’t think the impatience we found there was a matter of racism or indifference. It was more a matter of the teachers there having just one or two tools to deal with reading disabilities when phonics fail. When established solutions don’t work, then what do you do? Saying “keep trying, Johnny, you’ll get it eventually,” isn’t a solution, unless you believe in Einstein’s definition of insanity.
My wife and I became proactive and got a private tutor who shared with us a method that is a bit of an open secret. In other words, it’s out there and well-known, but you won’t find special ed teachers embracing it so readily.
That’s even though it works for many dyslexics.
If you don’t know what dyslexia is, let me share with you what it’s like.
Spin around like a dancer pirouettes, maybe three or four times. And then stop.
If your world spins with you, imagine seeing the words and letters on a page spinning as well.
That’s the way my son saw the written word.
Next installment, I’ll share with you the method that changed his life.
Thank you for sharing your story. I am a special education teacher with a son and father with dyslexia and ADHD. I also have characteristics of LD and have ADHD. It is a frustrating world, the world of education. I find so many teachers, even special education teachers just do not understand those of us with Learning Disabilities and ADHD and especially the potential or what works. Really want to hear the method you are speaking of!
June 11, 2013 at 7:40 am
Thank you for this story. I too have dyslexia & completed an EdD just 1 year ago. It is possible to achive academically with dyslexia … & yes it takes more than well intentioned ‘support’ from friends, family, & teachers.
All the best, C2
June 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm
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Could training in implicit bias be helpful at your institution?