This article (link above) hit home, and is one of the best and most honest accounts of the reality that many kids, teens, and adults with dyslexia face. Even a successful athlete, reaching the pinnacle of his sport (a Stanley Cup winner) Brent Sobel wasn’t immune from feeling “not good enough” and worse. As a child, demons developed in the head of undiagnosed dyslexic Sobel. In this article, he describes his successes, his descent into fear and anxiety, and his recovery from alcoholism. In addition, we learn about his current mission to help other kids from having the struggles he has.
It’s a lengthy, and at times searingly honest story, and well worth the read.
Below are some quotes with a comment or two.
“I couldn’t understand how schoolwork seemed to come so naturally to other kids. It made me feel so left out.”
-The beginnings of isolation and feeling apart.
The older I got, the more trouble I had in school. When I was in Grade 8, my teachers tested my reading ability. I was reading at a fourth-grade level. But again, nobody seemed to know what to do about it.
-We know so much about the benefits of early and appropriate interventions. And yet schools still leave many kids left out from identification. Early identification can lead to good treatment, inclusion and hopefully, an emphasis on discovering strengths and interests as well as remediation.
“Despite all my hours on the ice, I was never the fastest or the most skilled player — but I’d be damned if anyone was going to outwork me.” …”I appreciated how much work went into the day-to-day operation of the farm. It taught me that hard work is the foundation for success.
-One of the potential benefits of any challenge and struggle. As well as hats off to small farmers and ranchers!
“I always thought that was ironic. Here’s this kid who everyone thinks is an idiot and is only going to make it in life because he can play hockey. But when I was drafted into the NHL, my biggest asset was my brain.”
“All those times in between games when I was alone with my thoughts. For me, I hated being in my own head like that. Who wouldn’t if you had grown up questioning your mental capabilities every single day? Even achieving my dream of playing in the NHL couldn’t erase the destructive impact of not having gotten the right help when I was in school — I felt … out of my mind … or maybe that I didn’t belong.”
“I couldn’t take the sense of crippling loneliness that I was feeling when I was by myself. It exhausted me.
I turned to alcohol. It kept me numb.”
“I remember when my kids were much younger they would ask me to read them bedtime stories.”
And after his personal struggles come to dominate-
So I went to rehab for 45 days.
“I can say without a shadow of a doubt that those were the most important 45 days of my life. I believe rehab saved my life.
I’m not the same person I was before I went, and I never will be. Rehab helped me to understand what my life is now. I learned how to meditate, how to find peace. But there was one lesson that resonated with me more than any other.
To some, accepting yourself for who you are may sounds like words, but it’s a mindset. It’s a way of life.”
“When I came out of rehab, I realized the damage I had caused to my friends and family. The people I had taken for granted, the relationships I had thrown away — everything became black and white. My learning disorders led directly to my alcoholism. And after the loss of my identity as a hockey player, I just wasn’t operating at full capacity.”
“I don’t want anyone, no matter their age, to feel like they’re stupid. I don’t want somebody to feel useless because of dyslexia, dysgraphia or anything similar. My future is clear to me now. I want to dedicate myself to helping children with learning disabilities. I’m working on a children’s book based on the characters I created for my own kids, Pinky and Greenie. There’s tremendous work being done by people around the world to not only help kids, but also to help adults who suffer from learning disabilities.”
“In conjunction with this article, I am proud to announce the launch of my new website, which will highlight the extensive work I will be doing with several outstanding dyslexia and learning disability support organizations.”
By Sanford Shapiro