of Dyslexia Springs Hope
Determination to find help for son prompts one mother to
reach out to other kids in need.
Gail Opper, Detroit News, October 16, 2005
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"I can't keep
him in my class; he's not smart enough to be here."
Incredibly, a teacher had just spoken those words in my presence
and within hearing distance of my son; and I was too overwhelmed
to respond. The last few years had been a nightmare for him and
me, and these words were simply the icing on the cake.
But every knife that pierces a soul either destroys that soul or
motivates it; and, in this case, hope was unknowingly just
around the corner.
Sitting in the library that morning among a stack of books,
there, finally, was the word I had spent years searching for --
It was a word even good teachers didn't understand, and nor did
I, but it described my son's condition to a "T."
Of our three children, he was the one who absolutely would not
sit and listen to me read. He could not learn his numbers -- "6"
was always "9" and "13," "11."
Though thankful for a diagnosis, it was only the beginning. What
I desperately wanted was a cure for this condition that left a
bright young boy with a potentially hopeless future -- a
condition that prevented my child from learning to read.
More research led me to a new, frightening fact: Most of our
prison population is dyslexic. Fear gripped me. One day, would
my son be one of those statistics? After all, if you can't read,
what in the world can you do? You can steal or sell drugs, can't
The answer for my son would come in the form of a special
program for dyslexic children called "Orton Gillingham." It is a
multi-sensory program with a proven track record that is 96
percent effective in teaching reading to dyslexics.
Special education was not an answer for my son. Tremendously
caring teachers simply weren't trained to help him. It became
very clear that I would have to put up a tremendous fight for
his "civil right" to read ... and fight I did.
I threatened a lawsuit against my school district (who was my
employer) and I won.
Orton-Gillingham classes began for my son in fifth grade. His
confidence blossomed. He was soon cast in a school play,
discovered a talent for singing and won culinary awards galore.
His senior year he made the "All A" honor roll and took a
culinary course in college before graduation. Today he is a
successful youth director.
Young people's lives are changed one caring person at a time.
Sometimes parents have to fight for their children who have no
One man in my community, knowing my story, saw potential to help
children with academic problems. He and I along with a
remarkable teacher and dedicated volunteers began a summer
school program, making a tremendous difference in the lives of
children -- some of whom have dyslexia.
During the summer of 2004, our program had a 100 percent success
rate. This summer we added another teacher and 13 more children,
and we watched the miracle of learning grow every day in our
The horror of dyslexia for one family has become the gain of a
community. I couldn't have imagined that all those many years
ago nor could I have foreseen that a teacher who said my child
wasn't smart enough would forever motivate him to prove her
wrong and would lead this mother to change the lives of others.
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