Teachers and educational psychologists say my eldest son is dyslexic. What does that mean? It means that from an early age he struggled to read, to comprehend, to spell and write. We knew there was something special and unusual about him when he was about 2 – 3 years old. Whilst he has curious and great with stuff like using remote controls to work the television and VCR we noticed that he struggled to use words to voice what there was there for him to voice. Somehow it never came out right.
At the age of 7-8 it was official: your child is dyslexic. That did not worry me as I had chosen to put him in a Montessori School from the age of 5. And if there was a schooling method and system that would help him then the Montessori method and associated school would help – I was totally confident. We (my wife and I) searched out all manner of ‘quacks’ that offered hope of helping our son and spent quite some money. Why? We were open and committed to the Possibility that our son would read, comprehend, spell, write and would not be limited by the way that his brain is wired. On top of the private Montessori school we found private teachers who specialised in helping dyslexic children. Why did we make this effort? We love our son. And because he is smart when it comes to the three dimensional world – the real world: he struggled only in flatland (two dimensional world of reading and writing).
When our son moved from primary school to secondary school he went from the private education system to a state school. This is when our ‘battle’ with the education system began: in theory (and under the law) our son should have got specialist teachers, in reality he did not. At the age of 12 his reading age was around 8, his comprehension age was around 6.5 years – this meant that he was unfit for and could not cope with being in a secondary school. Even in subjects like mathematics or business that he is good in he struggled in exams because he could not read, understand and then write answers to questions!
After fours years of fighting and a mountain of paperwork we finally won our case in Court and our son got the specialist teaching support that the law said he should be provided with. In the meantime I spent considerable time, energy and money in finding all kinds of material to help me: computer, software, books….. And I spent quite some time ‘teaching him’
By the time my son had left school he had done much better than we had expected in many subjects including getting several A grades. That was a relief. On the other hand his reading and comprehension age was around 11 years. And most importantly he hated reading and rarely read. Once I had stood for the Possibility that my son would be competent in reading, comprehending, spelling and writing. By the time he left school I was utterly defeated – I accepted that my son would never read, comprehend or write at a level to reflect his age. The Possibility that had been so strong and for which I fought fiercely had died and instead resignation reigned supreme.
This week I found a book in my son’s room. Not only that he told me he had read 15 pages the first night. The other night he told me that he had read 50 pages and was going to bed early so that he could read more. My reaction: what a marvellous miracle! Who would have thought my son would voluntarily read and enjoy reading? What made the difference? My son loves business and he is great at it. He loves watching Alan Sugar and the apprentice. He works in a charity shop and the people around him recognise his passion, his skill and the contribution he makes. One of the good folks gave him Alan Sugar’s autobiography!
Lesson 1: when you and I are intrinsically motivated, because your heart is called into play, we can do the most amazing stuff
Lesson 2: be open to Possibility, be open to miracles, never ever give up on your dreams!