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Aaron's Story

Posted on May 24, 2016 at 8:10 AM

I would like to share our dyslexia story in hopes that it will raise awareness of the need 20%, or 1 in5 of all children in school have for recognition and help in their education; and with that awareness, change how public education and educators are enabled to help these children.

Aaron was born in 2002, the 11th child in our family of 13. He was a beautiful baby with big, blue eyes, dark hair, and curly eyelashes. How we loved his sweet baby ways, and as he grew, watching his own special gifts and talents develop.

Aaron loved music, and could hum back any tune and add his own words to the familiar hymns we sang together. He loved animals, and outdoors, running and playing, and doing puzzles, which he could do faster than me.

And then we started school. Until his 8th grade year this year, I homeschooled Aaron. I had always used a phonics based approach to reading, and this is where I first saw that Aaron was different. It was a simple, progressive program that had worked well for my other children, but no matter how many times we did a lesson, it was like he had never seen it before the next day. Words and letters and sounds seemed to have no connection and only be repeating over and over and rote memorization, was Aaron able to learn to read. Even then it was choppy and oh so hard for him. Writing? Even worse. Although he learned how to form the letters he could not spell. He loved to be read to and could easily comprehend a story, but he could not put his own thoughts on paper. This was a source of daily frustration for both of us. We struggled on. He excelled at math, doing a lot of the work in his head and getting it right, but unable to do it easily on paper. What was wrong?????

I shared my frustrations with another mom, and she told me, “maybe he has dyslexia”.Dyslexia? What’s that? Never heard of it. Her son went to public school, and did very poorly. I’m not sure where she heard of dyslexia, but the school did not recognize it unless she would have him privately tested at their expense, which they did. She was then able to convince the school to use some book fair money to purchase a SusanBarton program for dyslexia, and they provided an aide to tutor him at school.  It made a huge difference for him. Hmmm….

Back to Aaron. We often went to the Morton Public Library where I began to see notices posted for a dyslexia support group meeting and decided to go. I met the tutor, Melissa, and after some time and several other discussions and research on my own, decided to try tutoring.

By this time, Aaron had low self-confidence and often said, “I’m so dumb”, which broke my heart! I could not convince him otherwise. He did not want to go to tutoring. I’m sure it was out of fear of exposing his weakness to yet another person. I gave him no choice, and we went.

He didn’t want me to leave him, so I sat through the first few months with him. Eventually, I sat outside the room where he could see me, and as he progressed and began to be more comfortable and confident, I stayed at the library or ran short errands. He blazed through his sessions, working so hard! Aaron, by nature, has a bulldog like tenaciousness at a task if he likes it, and a mind that was always grasping at the how and whys of the way things worked.

Finally, he had a key to the how and why of language, and it was like opening a prison door and setting him free!!

He went to public school for the first time this year and he has amazed me! From hardly being able to write a sentence, to all A’s this past 9 weeks, and I know without a doubt that if he hadn’t gotten the key to unlock the mysteries of language to him through an Orton-Gillingham based tutoring program, and having one of the best tutors in the world, Aaron would not have had the chance he needed to show himself and believe himself that he’s not, “Just so dumb.”

There are ever so many other Aaron’s out there, struggling, sinking, crying out for help. They need our support as parents and educators, to give them the help and the tools they need. It has made such a difference for us.


 


 

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