Recently, the National Center for Learning Disabilities website published an interview with new high school freshman, Jack. NCLD interviews Jack, who is dyslexic, as a real success story. And while that’s true, there’s a story and history to Jack becoming so well-spoken and such a good self-advocate.
I was Jack’s literacy specialist during his 3rd grade year and again in fifth grade. As the article/interview notes, he was always a great “puzzle” kid. He’d create the most inventive Lego designs I’d seen in a while. He always had a good thirst for knowledge. In addition, he was lucky enough to have parents who saw the better in him and I’m sure that helped as well. Jack always displayed a sensitive and generous nature, but there’s two other qualities I noticed in Jack that I’m sure have been an integral part of his success.
1. He had a willingness to trust his own judgement.
He seemed to trust his own sense that besides the Orton/Slingerland styled reading and spelling training I was giving him, I was interested in his overall well-being and his “mindset.” I suggested to him once, that he would enjoy and benefit from talking on the phone with some stranger (to him) from back in CT, who was also dyslexic and knew a fair bit about computers and how technology can help. The stranger was Richard Wanderman, founder and previous owner of this site, LD Resources, and a friend and colleague of mine. I had a hunch that if Jack was willing, he’d benefit from hearing some advice and story from someone who’d been through some of the same angst and struggle. I knew instinctively that hearing from someone who’d lived through the disentangling of intelligence and reading speed would be a good thing. Jack and Richard did speak on the phone one day from my office, because Jack was willing and open to the experience even at a young age. They did have a pretty cool conversation about the benefits of word processing and other similar subjects.
2. Jack’s willingness and particular type of fearlessness.
As fifth grade got underway, I suggested to Jack that he do a presentation to his class on dyslexia and how it affected him personally. At the time, I think he was having a little bit of internal struggle about using his laptop to help him through some of the novels being read and for writing. He wanted his peers to understand why these tools were useful and necessary for him. He thought the presentation idea was pretty good. So, he made this awesome multi-media presentation to his class and the administrators who saw it were duly impressed. His peers got it, his social status went up actually, and his teacher was thrilled.
So glad to see Jack’s continued to move forward and set examples.
Right on Jack.