Hate to Read?

angry-readerSome people hate to read.  I understand that now.  Are you a reading hater?  That’s okay.  I am friend, not foe.  Please don’t stop reading this column.
I always thought I was smart.  Teachers told me I was smart.  My grades told me I was smart.  Every year, after achievement testing, the public school told my parents I was smart.  The problem?  It wasn’t reality.  While I’m extremely gifted in some areas, I’m sadly lacking in others.  Bottom line?   I love words.  I always have.  I can read well and write well-formed paragraphs.  I don’t remember learning to read.  When someone showed me those beautiful letters and the way they could be pieced together to build ideas, I was hooked.  I was home.  I can now use those 26 letters to make people laugh and cry.  But I cannot build a bridge.  I cannot understand calculus.  I cannot put a puzzle together or even understand the importance of quantum physics.  The irony?  The ONE thing I CAN do is the one thing that made me look so smart in school. But all is not as it seems. This is my story.  Our story.

Our youngest son was introduced to letters at an early age.  But they were never his friends.  When he looked at the letters, he couldn’t clearly see how those letters made words.  He couldn’t read the words well or spell the words.  No one could explain it.  After our own research, we now know that he probably has dyslexia.  Dyslexia has gotten a lot of national attention and many school districts now have specialists who have been trained to help dyslexic students unlock the complicated wiring differences which can lead to reading success.  Unfortunately, our district does not currently address this issue.

Some of you may have dyslexia.  If statistics are correct, a lot of you have it. Maybe you always hated writing, spelling, and even reading.  Maybe you felt stupid.  It didn’t matter that you had a gift for science. Science class was all about reading Chapter 7 and writing a well-organized paragraph about photosynthesis.  You hated the thought of spelling “photosynthesis” much less writing a paragraph about it.  Despite your love for the plant world, your hatred for letters made even the study of plants miserable.  Some thought you weren’t very bright.  Unmotivated.  Lazy.  But the ability to put 26 letters together is not intelligence.  It never has been.  And if no one ever told you that, let me be the first.  I made an A on the photosynthesis report.  I couldn’t tell you one thing about it.

Our son can do lots of things I can’t begin to do.  He can take a box of Legos and build a bridge.  He can look at the puzzle pieces hatereadingand see them fit together.  He can see movie scenes that were not engineered correctly, saying things like, “You would never build a space ship like that.  The solar sail would never fold backwards.  It wouldn’t work.”  He’s creative and imaginative.  The problem?  There’s not an academic place for 12-year-olds who can barely read but can understand about solar sails.  Are we discouraged?  No.
Thankfully, our son’s current life with all the paper, pencils, and endless work sheets is not the real world.  It doesn’t define his academic future.  Adulthood can be a place of great success for critical thinkers and those who learn to overcome obstacles.  If your story is our story, don’t be discouraged.   It’s not too late. Your gifts just didn’t fit the mold.  Oh, and if you still can’t spell “photosynthesis”, worry not.  A good computer program can spell.  But thinking?  No.  Only a sharp human mind can do that.