Everyone recognizes Dr. Seuss, right? To a dyslexic, rhymes can be such a struggle — even impossible. Many don’t hear the letter sounds like you and I. My daughter Taylor never learned to rhyme. Taylor, for instance, is an 11th grader who hears sounds on a 2nd grade level. Her reading comprehension is that of a 5th grader, however her verbal comprehension is at the end of the 12th grade. Early on in our “battle”, I realized you’re not either someone who excels or else you’re special ed – well, what if you’re neither? What if you’re not black or white — you’re gray? What if you don’t learn like they teach? I decided I wasn’t going to wait on the school district to determine my child’s future: I WAS!
Kindergarten was when we first began to realize that something just wasn’t right. It was then that I knew the only time Taylor would be in the “advanced” reading group would be when she “walked through it to get to hers” on the other side of the classroom. Kindergarten was supposed to be about reading fun books, coloring and crayons, but to Taylor it was an all-out battle to learn to read! She spent her entire year of kindergarten staying after school; she had tutoring, just to keep up with the other students. At the end of the school year, she was “most improved reader!”
Being your child’s best advocate
It was then that I devoted my life to my daughter’s education and knew I would always be her best advocate. I am a writer and I knew my most important subject would be her. That is when I began writing her life story (Living “Lexi”: A Walk in the Life of a Dyslexic), about being a dyslexic. I knew her story should be told so other dyslexics and their parents could be encouraged. We (Taylor and I together) have taken a negative and made it a positive, Life is, however, what you make it, and what you put into it! I have always taught Taylor that our cup is overflowing; it is not half empty or half full. Taylor is a proven statistic that encouragement truly makes a difference in self-confidence, drive and determination. Through my encouragement, Taylor has been able to encourage other dyslexics, so much that her previous teachers call on her to come encourage their dyslexic students. She became her own best advocate! I encourage you to recognize your child/student’s uniqueness (notice I didn’t say weakness). I encourage you to be an advocate for your child/students. Children will look to someone for guidance, for direction in their lives – shouldn’t that be a person like you?
I must warn you, especially for the parents, “if you get your sword out and go to battle for your child/students and someone ends up falling on that sword, make sure it’s you and not your child/student.” Sometimes there is a fine line between what you can do and what you can’t.
Where Taylor is now
Happy to us is sounding out a letter or a blend, then reading a word, reading a sentence, reading a paragraph, reading a page, then reading a book and smiling a huge smile that she did it!
Taylor and I always laughed and said she would have to have a career where she didn’t have to read. She has always been very creative, very visual and an out-of the-box learner and thinker. She found her niche and her passion in photography. Taylor’s journalism teachers say “She can just SEE the picture! Her special brain is what makes her pictures so special!” “Photography has been an excellent vice for building her confidence.” “Photography has been an outlet for her. I’m so proud that she is determined to be successful, despite her learning disability. She knows it will always be a part of her life and she has figured out how to be successful despite it.”
Taylor takes amazing pictures! Her photography reflects what she sees without the camera. You can tell what kind of person she is by the photographs she takes. Taylor celebrates life with her camera. I am one proud momma!
Shelley Trammell is the author of Living Lexi: A Walk in the Life of a Dyslexic which can be purchased on her website, www.shelleytrammell.com.