North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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October 12, 2010

Family learns together about dyslexia

NORTH JEFFERSON — Editor’s Note: This story is is the first in a series and details one local family’s struggle with dyslexia. October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month.

I wanted readers to be more aware of a reading disorder problem that could be seen as a lazy, literacy or simply an LD “learning differently” problem.  

What would you think about a child in the middle of the third grade just learning all of their ABC’s?  

My child, JT, knew his ABCs by the ABC song but as far as “knowing” the individual sound that each letter made, JT did not; and knowing that those constants and vowels made a word, he did not.  

Imagine his surprise when he found out that “n” was an individual letter and it was not “LMN.” No wonder he could never read or write words like no, on or mom.

If anyone reading this starts thinking “OK, this child is stupid or dumb or just lazy,” they would be thinking the same thing as parents, teachers and even JT was thinking during his first four years of school.

First of all, one might ask, ‘How did JT make it to third grade?’ The answer is memorization. (This may also explain why some high-school students or adults have a third or fourth grade reading level).

JT could visualize and memorize words. His speaking vocabulary was phenomenal and when testing verbally, one would not be surprised to find out that he is really intelligent.

But to hear him read, especially a word like “the” or “this,” JT had no idea what the word would be. Even as a parent and making him write the word 20-30 times to drill it into him, five minutes later when he came to the word “the,” it was like he had never seen it and could not read it or even sound it out.

JT’s third grade was his time to be great in the math and science areas. He was even good in social studies, as long as he could take his test verbally.  

But more problems became evident when trying to read his writing or when JT would come to tears when trying to write. He knew what he wanted to say but just could not get it processed to come out on paper.  

Of course, medicine was suggested to get his mind to slow down so he could concentrate better. But even on medicine, I could not make out the words he had written. Nothing was spelled correctly. What was wrong with JT?

After showing some of his writing to some friends, one immediately said it looks and sounds like one of the 12 types of dyslexia. One trip to Scottish Rites in Birmingham, and JT was found to be dyslexic.

“Wow. I am not dumb or stupid but really smart,” said JT, and through his tears he said “God just made my brain to learn in a different way.”    

Problem solved? No; just more hard work and time for understanding. But first it took time for JT to get over his madness of having to relearn everything the way a dyslexics’ brain learns.

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