Dyslexia: The Superhero Returns

In Donesa Walker, Kiddos by Lola Magazine

The jumble of letters and symbols wasn’t getting any better no matter how long he looked at it. It didn’t seem to matter how strong the medicine was that his doctor prescribed, his mind still couldn’t focus on these archaic symbols and understand their meaning so once again, he gave up with a headache and a sigh of frustration. It was now an everyday occurrence and he was tired of fighting to try. Kevin* begin to try to think back to his whole school career and when was the last time he truly felt successful in school. He still loved building and he remembered his kindergarten class…that was it…the last time he felt happy at school and excited about learning.

Kevin watched his Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Baker. She was so pretty and smart. He wanted to be just like her when he grew up, well, really, just like his daddy, but smart like Ms. Baker. Ms. Baker was making some pretty markings on the board and wanted him to make them on his paper too. One of them looked just like a bridge tunnel. He liked to build bridge tunnels. Then she handed out papers to color of the bridge tunnel. She called it something else, a fancy name like N, but he was confused about that. For now, he just wanted to think about the bridge. He really liked building and he could make this bridge really cool with his colors, so he began to really enjoy that. He thought about Batman fighting the Rock on the bridge tunnel while he was coloring and suddenly, he heard his name being called. The class was going out to recess and Ms. Baker wanted his paper, but he wasn’t finished making it pretty for her, so he stuffed it into his desk. He would give it to her later after lunch when he had time to finish the pretty bridge.

Kevin never finished his bridge tunnel coloring. In fact, it wasn’t long after that his mother came to visit the school and talk to Ms. Baker. Ms. Baker told his mother that Kevin had trouble with attention and couldn’t complete his work and focus in class, so his mother took him to the doctor, and he got some medicine. The problem was that the medicine did not make the jumbled symbols and letters make sense either. Kevin wasn’t sure what the medicine was supposed to do, but mostly, it made him tired and he just didn’t feel like doing too much anymore.

Thinking back to that day, Kevin wonders why it was so easy for the other kids and why he has struggled so much. Kevin has been on medicine since Kindergarten and he still cannot read. He is in special classes to read and he had even memorized some words, enough that most people think he reads just fine but to Kevin, words and sounds related to symbols on a page are still a mystery.

This is one story of a dyslexic child. Dyslexia is not a disease nor really a dysfunction as some may define it but rather an inefficiency of the brain to decode the symbols called letters when grouped together into sounds and to code those same groupings into words. There are many different types of dyslexia and most are overlooked. It is obvious when students struggle with sounds and reading that there is a reading problem and that is one reason the National Center for Learning Disabilities has determined that 1 in every 5 children struggle with a learning disability. The scary thing is that it is higher than that, as 2 in 5 children struggle with reading specifically and only one of these will be correctly diagnosed and treated. More often than not, children are incorrectly diagnosed, and proper treatment is rarely applied as in a typical school system, struggling students continue to grow to hate learning.

I often am asked why so many who come to my learning center are dyslexic or struggle with reading. It is because their parents have finally found a place to make a difference in their child’s life and have chosen to take that step. What makes brain training different than the other interventions of the educational world specific to dyslexia? The one to one intervention. The sequence of the skills delivered simultaneously. The addressing of all the underlying skills that cause dyslexia and not just the auditory weaknesses addressed by an interventionist or speech therapist in a group setting. Training the brain to tune into the important aspects of learning. Showing the brain how to code these sounds into a pattern of language. The intensity of the sessions that allow the brain to automatically discover that neurons that fire together, wire together. The constant feedback from the personal trainer who cares about every aspect in the child’s life and can incorporate these frustrating details into the pattern of training for that day, demonstrating to the child how to channel that frustration and anger into a usable skill for learning. This is the difference.

Kevin came to my center in middle school. He had given up on learning and was perpetually beat down. His parents had tried everything and had given up hope, worrying that Kevin would never be able to stand on his own two feet. He loved sports and he was good at it. He loved drawing and building and her was good at that. He even loved his classmates and teachers, but he was not good at school. Through the years, he had had teachers who really took that extra time and he had struggled on. This year, he was just too tired of it all and he began acting out which got him into further trouble. Kevin came to my center as an undiagnosed dyslexic young teen. He came angry at the world and had given up on learning. Weeks later, I watched Kevin begin to read for himself. At first, it was a struggle, but he now understood the code and he felt confident in himself because he now knew there was a team of willing people supporting him, coaching him, cheering him on. His teachers, his personal brain trainer, the staff at LearningRx, his parents, everyone around him began to see this amazing young man come out of his shell and thrive. As I write this, I just received a text from his mother a few days ago. He is serving our country in the armed forces as an officer. He has graduated college and is married with a child. He is thriving and has chosen to go back to get his Master’s degree so after the military, he intends to help others by building the bridges he dreamed of in Kindergarten.

This is my why.

LearningRx is a passion for me. It doesn’t make me a lot of money nor does it make me a superstar on the scene in the community. All the Kevins out there are my why. For they are my future and I am theirs. The superheroes in this story isn’t Batman, but rather the parents who brought their son to LearningRx, Kevin himself for sticking it out until he could get help and all of the brain trainers who give their lives to changing the lives of others. I salute my staff and am grateful for the opportunity to change lives daily. Today as I write this, we celebrate 11 years of changing lives one brain at a time.

*name was changed to protect privacy of this particular individual, but this is a true story based on a real client of LearningRx in Shreveport, LA.