A DYSLEXIC MOTHER & DAUGHTER OVERCOME THEIR LIMITATIONS
Twenty-five years ago when my daughter, Genevieve, was in grade two, I was called in for a meeting with her teacher. He told me he suspected she had a reading problem and he thought it might be "Dyslexia". I had heard the term when I was in university studying to become a teacher but I didn't know anything about it.
He wanted me to talk to the teacher in charge of the program for slow readers. She did some tests on Gen and told me she was setting up an appointment with a specialist for learning disabilities. More tests followed and I was told that Gen was very bright and most likely Dyslexic. She also said there was no assistance or tutoring help in the Northern California school system for her problem. I have since found this resistance to acknowledge Dyslexia and lack of funding is prevalent with school systems in North America. It was also difficult finding individuals in our education system who believed it existed.
When a child is assessed to decide whether they need special testing to determine learning problems and then what program they should be enrolled in the school system their school holds an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting. This is made up of teachers, principals, special education instructors, school psychologists, parents of the child and other family members or representatives for the parents. I was told at one of these meetings for my daughter my expectations were too high for my child.
MY EXPECTATIONS WERE TOO HIGH?!!!
I said if she couldn't read, write, handle money or do basic math where would she be able to get a job! My expectations were too high... can you imagine? I even had one school psychologist tell me about a girl with Dyslexia she knew in middle school who was a cheerleader, an artist and very popular. She told me the girl seemed very happy and wasn't concerned about her spelling and reading problems. I asked her how being a cheerleader, artist and being popular was going to help in the REAL world?
Realizing the schools would be of no help I started to look for tutors or specialists in the phone book. I found a couple of experts who assessed Gen and confirmed she was Dyslexic. It was explained to me she needed to have everything taught to her in whole and real images, not abstract. Also a Dyslexic sees the complete picture of something first and then the parts. Think of the expression "forest before the trees". People who are Dyslexic would need to understand what a forest is in its entirety before they could identify, see or visualize the individual trees. This is the key to their thinking and learning style, which is also what we call right-brain processing.
So I started to explain everything to her with real life concepts and when I taught her a new piece of information I gave her the whole idea first. I'll give you an example. One day Gen was working on a arithmetic sheet in grade three. The exercise listed specific amounts of money like $1.00, 75 cents, $1.50, etc. The directions asked what six coins (pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, etc.) would you need to add up to those amounts. This was too abstract for her. She couldn't begin to imagine what those coins would be. I got her a jar of change, poured the coins out in front of her. She knew what coins were because they were real, she knew what to use them for and how much they were worth because she had bought items from stores with me. I then said count up different coins until they added up to the amounts on her sheet. So a $1.00 could be 3 quarters, 2 dimes and one nickel. She understood immediately and went through the exercise sheet in minutes!
Suddenly after years of confusion she could be taught! This was the start of FINALLY understanding my daughter and how she thinks and how she learns.
From there I found some help from tutors who worked with Dyslexics, any books on the subject and anyone else who had some ideas. I started to come up with ways around how she was being taught at school so she could actually follow the teacher by knowing what questions she needed to ask to understand and comprehend what was being taught and what was expected of her.
I also developed methods to teach her spelling, reading, arithmetic, telling time, measurements etc. that helped her stay caught up with the class.
We had terrific progress!
Genevieve successfully graduated high school with good grades and the ability to go on to college successfully.
We also had the rest of my kids, my husband and myself tested for Dyslexia. We all have varying degrees of Dyslexia. Turns out my father, my sister, one of my brothers and many of my husband's family are also Dyslexic. We are all coping with it and many of us are using our "right-brain Dyslexia gifts" very effectively! I have discovered that being right-brained and Dyslexic can be an incredible asset.
Today my three Dyslexic children are adults starting their own families. They are all doing very well in their fields of work and have overcome the stigma of Dyslexia. They all can spell, read and write.
I am now making this knowledge available to parents of Dyslexics, their teachers and tutors and Dyslexic adults. I want to shed some light on this potential nightmare for you. I want to help you solve your Dyslexic learning problems and ultimately see the benefits of being a right-brained individual.
(By the way, today Genevieve manages our family fence construction business. She handles all aspects of the business which includes those skills she wasn't able to do back in elementary school when we first became aware she was Dyslexic. She is also married, has a husband and three children and somehow finds time to help family and friends with their work and life problems!
My middle son Casey works in Hollywood in the production of commercials and his right brain thinking style benefits him in his job. He has also noticed that there are many in the entertainment business that are Dyslexic or right-brain thinkers.
My youngest son Wil has been working for our construction business since he was fifteen. He is a welding fabricator, electric gate installer and crew supervisor. His ability to see the big picture and problem solve is invaluable in that business.)