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DYSLEXIC WRITERS' & ARTISTS' CORNER

This section of our website is devoted to Dyslexics who are writers, poets, artists and photographers. We encourage you to email your creative selections to: khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca and we prefer that you don't have someone correct or change your work.

We will review your piece and we may post it on this webpage. Dyslexia Victoria Online does not pay for submissions that we publish on our site, rather we are creating a place to give dyslexics a chance to display their work.


 

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 Prairie is one of our students that we assessed for Dyslexia. She is doing well and as you can see is an incredible artist. She has her own website where she displays her work and I understand that some of her wonderful pieces are on gift cards. We encourage you to view her work.

The link to her website is: "Prairie"















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Nine year old Marina V is an imaginative story teller and talented artist. She draws, paints and makes wonderful sculptures and dioramas with modeling clay, especially dragons!

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Marina has a Dragon and many other creatures in this drawing!





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Marina has created a castle with a Dragon, Unicorn, and a Knight on horseback. On the right are lady bugs




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A DOG'S LIFE


"A Dog's Life" is a short story written by John Mills from British Columbia. He has been a very successful arbitrator in the province for close to fifty years. John has been telling us stories our whole life; some sort of true with a degree of artistic license and others as wild as a Mark Twain tale. He started writing as a hobby years ago and has kind of a spare "Hemingway" style.

This particular story about a man, his dog and life's passages brought our family to tears. I hope you appreciate it as much as we did.

Click here to go to the story



We were recently sent an email by a Dyslexic gentleman, John Rodrigues. He wrote to tell us about a book he is writing about his life. This is a first draft of chapter one. We enjoyed and were amused by his gentle humor and memories that reminded us of author Jean Shepherd and his laugh out loud short stories that inspired the 1983 movie "A Christmas Story". We are looking forward to reading how his story unfolds.


My name is John Rodrigues and I am a dyslexic I am putting together a book about my life called ........High School Dropout to Harvard ..........


"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work." -Mark Twain

{1}
Broken Glasses

 

I was born in Fullerton, California at St Judge hospital. I was a 10 pound baby boy, my poor mom. She still to this day will not let me forget how much pain I put her through when I was born. According to my parents, I moved around so much during the delivery that I cut my lip and my mom on the way out, we both needed stitches. Even back then I couldn't sit still.

Growing up something seemed off to me, but I couldn't quite tell what it was. It seemed like something was off balance or did not quite fit. Since this was only obvious to myself. I kept my mouth shut about my feeling and just went about my days trying to conceal any differences I might have with the other kids. My parents seemed to have very little patience with me. I seemed to always be breaking things because my ability to judge distance and how hard or soft to put something down seemed to be off. I think I must have set a new world record for the number of drinking glasses I cracked, broke or dropped as a child. It seemed that every time I reached for my glass of juice or water I would misgauge the distance, and close or open my hand too early or late. This would inevitably result in me tipping over the glass on the table or onto the floor. This was double bad in my house, because not only would I usually break or crack a glass, but I would also send a small wave of juice across the table towards the carpet. I would scramble to get a napkin to stop the liquid before it rolled over the edge of the table and onto the floor, but for some reason, I always seemed to be just a little too late, and all I could do was watch as it rolled over the edge and onto the carpet. This was followed by a chorus from my parents of "Why can't you drink something without spilling it?" my dad, and "Why can't I ever have anything nice in this house?" my mom.

These wonderful comments from my parents only increased my anxiety when I was drinking from a glass. I still to this day feel anxious when I reach for a glass. But, at home with my sweet loving wife, we use clear plastic cups from Crate and Barrel. They never break! I love these! I can't believe that something so simple would make me so happy, but they do. The anxiety and fear my parents created in me was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I look at the kids now with envy, with their fancy superhero and cartoon character plastic cups. Where were you when I needed you? We did not have anything like this in my house when I was growing up. We just had endless sets of promotion glasses from McDonalds, Burger King, and inexpensive glasses from Pic N Save and Longs Drugs. I would break these wonderful glasses just as fast as we would collect or buy them. Even now I get a rush of excitement when I deliberately break a glass. Could I be secretly Greek?

I grew up in Orange County, CA when it was mainly Orange Groves. We lived in a small town called Fullerton, 15 minutes away from the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. We lived in the suburbs in a happy little bubble. My brother Mike was a year older than me, and from the time we learned to crawl and walk we kept my mom and dad on their toes. We lived on Michael Street at the end of the block in a colda sack. This made it perfect for playing touch football and baseball in the street. There were a lot of other kids who lived on our block, so all my brother and I had to do was step outside of our house and we had a dozen other kids to play with.

My parents were an interesting combination, my mother was born in Baton Rouge, LA and my father was born in the Bronx, NY. My father was a product of tenement buildings in the Bronx, so he grew up very poor. He was physically and verbally abused by his mother and separated from his father who died when he was a teenager. My father had a stuttering problem growing up that made him not want to talk to anyone. My mother was the product of Louisiana; she was French-Creole, and American Indian, Choctaw and Creek. She grew up on a farmhouse in Baton Rouge with two brothers and two sisters. They had a small movie theater on their property where they would show second run movies and Saturday morning cartoons. My grandfather, did not believe in employing anyone in his movie theater who wasn't in the family, and would work cheaply or for free. He had all of his kids running the movie theater, my mom and her sisters ran the concession stand, aunts and uncles sold tickets, and her brothers, Jimmy and Harold ran the movie projectors. My grandfather was very frugal, or as some people say, cheap. This is a habit that my mom developed from him, and she was always been good with money, while my dad was not.

My Parents met at a party in Fullerton, CA. They both worked in the hospital after attending college, my dad became a male nurse and my mom as a lab tech. When my parents decided to get married, the first thing they did was scrape up enough money for a down payment on a house. One of the cheapest places to live at the time was Orange County, CA, because it was mainly Orange groves, and not that well developed. My parents bought a small house on half an acre of land. They only had enough money for the down payment not much more. The house was in such bad shape, that my mother sat on the back porch and cried the first time she saw it. Now that my parents had a new house they were faced with a challenge, how to furnish their new house without any money. In Orange County at the time, most of the houses looked similar, but inside our house was an assortment of mismatched furniture and silverware and plates that made our house look like something out of a bad movie. My brother and I joked if something matched in our house my parents would demand that we change it, or remove it immediately."

Most of the furnishings were mainly discovered in second hand stores and garage sales. This is why everything in our house didn't match from chairs to sofas, to silverware, to end tables. The only thing that did match in our house was the green shag carpet. This was in most of the rooms. Our house was a pirate's paradise. It was filled with treasure from all over Southern California. Our house would have made Fred G. Sanford proud.

If you can believe it, for many years growing up, our living room table was a picnic table/ park bench. One day my dad just showed up with this picnic table and moved it into our dining room. My mother never said anything or asked where it came from. Growing up I always wondered is there a park somewhere with a missing a picnic table. This picnic table sat in our dining room for many years, as the center piece to our empire. Years later, the bench was moved into the back yard, when my parents bought a traditional dining room table with matching chairs. I missed that old table when we got the new one. I always felt closer to my family on the picnic table than in individual chairs.

Growing up it was me and my older brother Mike, We had one car, a white Volkswagen van in the driveway. In the summers my parents would load my brother and I in the VW camper and we would drive across country to places like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Texas, or Louisiana. The one thing I could always count on during these trips is my dad talking to everybody; in gas stations, diners, camp grounds, state parks, you name it. The interesting thing about my dad striking up conversations with new people he met along the way is that he would be so caught up in the conversation that he would forget things and it would not be until we were miles down the road that he would remember. One thing that would help jar his memory is when cars pulled up alongside ours, and pointed to the back of our car. Sometimes these same cars would, roll down their window and yell, "Your gas cap is missing!" "Your gas cap is missing!" "You have no gas cap!" My dad would pullover on the side of the road, and sure enough, the gas cap was missing.

This happened so often that we spent a lot of time on our family vacations going through old boxes of lost gas caps until we found one that fit. The funny thing about this is that my dad was so excited about being out with the family on vacation that he wanted to meet everyone and introduce us to everyone. I still remember my mom saying after this happened for the third or fourth time on one trip, "For god's sake Doug, not again"

I Loved Kindergarten and my teacher Mrs. Green. I have many distinct memories in my life, and one of my first memories in school was in Mrs. Green's kindergarten class. She was so great, in her class we had art, music, colors, shapes and building blocks to work with. I remember her class vividly, building with red cardboard blocks, sitting on the carpet singing and napping, climbing to the top of the eagles perch on the monkey bars, and letters pinned to our shirts. My parents still have a clay hand print I made when I was five.

I think that kindergarten was my crowning glory in my K-12 twelve education. Everything after that was never as good as kindergarten. From first grade on it was all downhill, it wasn't until I reached college that I began having the same amazing experiences as I did in Kindergarten. This is why I liked college so much and did so well. I think that kindergarten and college are similar because you are able to explore and follow your educational curiosity in whatever direction it takes you. Visual thinkers thrive in this environment. In 1st through 12th grade the system is so regimented that it allows little room for an individual's academic curiosity. This system also judges everyone based on a narrow linear system, which doesn't take into account different types of intelligences.

Abraham Schmitt in his book Brilliant Idiot stated it best when he said, "My entire world collapsed at that moment. There was no other measure of a person's worth or intelligence than success in school" This is what happened to me.

I was a happy, confident, fun loving little kid until the first grade. In the first grade everything changed for me. First grade was not fun and interactive, which is the perfect environment for visual learners like me, it was boring and repetitious. We sat still most of the day in rows and did drills in the various disciplines. I hated this method because it went against the way that I naturally learn and I did not like to sit still. It was frustrating and boring for me to do this all day every day. I was a fun energetic kid who learned best by hearing, seeing, touching, and interacting with the material. Now I could not do any of these things. I hated first grade, I felt like someone had pulled the rug out from under me. How could kindergarten be so much fun and first grade be such a nightmare. This made no sense to me. Even worse than that, I couldn't keep up with this linear method and I always felt like I was swimming against the current, and always struggling to stay up with the other kids. My self-image which was huge in Kindergarten plummeted. I went from being the best student in Kindergarten to being the worst student in first grade. I failed first grade and had to repeat it. So, began my painful relationship with our K-12 public education system. This was supposed to be the launching pad for my academic career and I fell flat on my face.