A Dyslexic’s Success Story: How My Son Got Into UC Berkeley (Part II)

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For Father’s Day, I wanted to share the rest of the story about my son.

He’s got something in common with Charles Schwab, Picasso, John F. Kennedy and George Patton.

He’s a dyslexic.

I don’t know if dyslexia is a problem in higher ed. I imagine it probably is for some. But most kids get discouraged and weeded out before they can get a shot at college. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I know that because my family was told as early as my son’s third-grade year that he’d never be a good student. All because of the way he sees the world.

To a dyslexic, words are alive and out of control, coming at them too fast to comprehend and understand, unless they have help. Dyslexics are visual and can see letters and words from all sides.

But like a ballerina who can focus on a point as she pirouettes to keep the world from spinning out of control, the Davis Method helps dyslexics find solid ground.
That was our secret: The Davis Method.

Developed by an artist (as many dyslexics are), the method uses clay to help make letters, words and phrases become concrete. It allows for a dyslexic’s mind to focus and see words long enough to give them meaning. It gave my son a way to read, comprehend and succeed in school.

Ronald Davis is considered somewhat of a renegade when it comes to treating dyslexia. His books are readily available on Amazon. If you are dealing with dyslexia and haven’t at least checked them out, you should. His books would provide more help than most special ed teachers, whom we found to be lagging on the latest research and unable to deal with new ways to deal with reading issues.

Working with a certified Davis tutor, the sessions brought on a complete turnaround in our son.

To a non-dyslexic, pro-phonic guy like me, what the tutor did doesn’t appear to make sense. But my son found it comforting to work with the clay. In fact, the clay actually helped make the letters and what he saw uniform enough so that he could see them the way normal readers do.

Sound like bunk?

By using the Davis Method, my son’s school performance improved immediately. He went from failure in the third grade to a straight-A student by the eighth grade.

Let me be clear: It’s not magic. It’s hard work. And if my son has to work harder to overcome his dyslexia, so be it. He knows what it’s like to be a minority who wants to succeed. It might take him three times the effort, but he gets it done.

While my son had his 504, intended to be the magic equalizer from the American with Disabilities Act, his good grades became so routine, his teachers often doubted he had an issue and even questioned any need for accommodation. One school even stopped filling out the form.

They didn’t understand. The condition doesn’t go away. He learns how to use it to his advantage. And despite being fine in a one-hour class that has breaks in between, longer sessions like the SAT are another matter.

Despite my son’s 504, he was not granted any accommodation for the SAT.

Fortunately, it didn’t matter.

By the time my son graduated from the intensive academic International Baccalaureate program in high school, he had a weighted 4.3 GPA and an acceptance to UC Berkeley.

For those of you dealing with dyslexia, as a parent or teacher, there really is a better way that can work for many dyslexics.

If you’re a student in high school or college, it can offer real hope.

But when the solution is outside the establishment, most people who might benefit don’t even know it exists as an option.

So I offer this unsolicited testimonial because I know how frustrating dealing with the “formal” educational system can be.

A dyslexic can get a 4.3 GPA and admission to Cal—with a little hard work and the right approach.

That’s what happened to my son, a dyslexic, once he was exposed to the Davis Method.

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