Hey, Mrs. Harris, I have dyslexia!!

Three of my former students are brothers, I taught each of them in 7th grade.  The youngest 3 years ago, the oldest about 9 years ago.  I taught 2 at my former school and the youngest at my current school.  But this is about the middle boy, Will.

Will is now 19 or 20 years old.  In the past couple of years he has dropped in to say hi to me in my classroom.  I was at his high school graduation and got a big hug from him and his mother.  I saw him in June, he was riding past the school and stopped to tell me how his brothers were doing, how his cross-country running was going and about community college.  He was serious about school, told me about his plans and mentioned that he was struggling a bit academically but he was working on a transfer to a 4 year state school.  All good.

Before school started this year he dropped by – actually rode over to my classroom.  He looked good, tanned, in great shape, and with a big grin on his face. “Mrs. Harris, I have dyslexia!” he blurted out.  And then rambled through a great story.  Will admitted that effort was not his strong suit in high school but in community college he started to work hard and has a career plan to be an industrial engineer/designer. But he was struggling academically.  He is a lucky guy and has several adult mentors, including a former high school teacher.  These mentors and a couple of community college teachers urged him to be tested at school and he finally did so.  A free service at school.  They discovered his dyslexia and, although, he didn’t have the right ‘nomenclature’ it sounds like they wrote him a 504 plan.

Will listed all the services he can and will use: a note-taker will give him copies of class notes, he can use a laptop in class even if other student can’t, he can have extra time on tests or take them in another room, he can get audio version of all his textbooks, he can preferential registration times for courses, …   I’m sure there are more, he was bubbling over with information.

He has such renewed energy and hopes for success.  It lightened my whole week and as I write I am again buoyed by his optimism.

The downside – damnit why didn’t we send him for testing in elementary/middle/high school???  How many other kids have we missed who didn’t have Will’s resilience and never realized their disability?

Just a thought.  BUT I still feel his excitement and see his grin.  It’ll keep me going for quite a while.


1 Response to “Hey, Mrs. Harris, I have dyslexia!!”

  1. 1 The Space Between the Numbers August 20, 2011 at 8:47 am

    I love that he was energized/enthusiastic about learning about his dyslexia. Instead of the negative response I have seen from students who are worried about being labeled as different (and therefore “less than”) he saw this as the answer to a long-held question: why am I struggling so much? and as a road map to future success: now I have the tools I need to be successful. Such a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

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