By a conservative estimate, there are approximately 15,000-20,000 dyslexics in Hawaii’s schools each year. Unfortunately, many go without the help they need, and worse without being fully understood.
I was born dyslexic and I will always be dyslexic. By the end of first grade, I was well aware of the fact that I was unable to read as well as my peers. I didn’t know why this was the case, but as a result, I developed feelings of inferiority that have haunted me for years. My life in school started out mediocre and remained so throughout my K-12 years. I’ll never forget meeting with my high school counselor and being told that I shouldn’t bother taking the SAT because, “It would be best if I would focus my attention on learning a trade that doesn’t require college.” Fortunately, my mother was there to build me back up. She helped me believe that someday I would make it to college.
School was a chore, but on the bright side, I excelled in sports, which became my outlet. Because of sports, I always worked hard enough to maintain the “C” grade point average required for eligibility. However, my biggest obstacle as a high school student was my attitude and lack of motivation. I was angry and rebellious, always finding ways to rationalize my mediocre school performance on poor teaching. But by the 12th grade, I had several very significant advocates, my mother, grandmother and my dean. I went on to eventually transfer to the local state university where I earned a BA and two MA’s before completing my doctoral studies.
My reason for sharing this is that I know there are parents dealing with the same anxieties my parents faced. I know that there are kids who will make many of the same mistakes I made along the way. Most importantly, I know that all kids are deserving of the same level of unconditional support I had as a young person.
Remediation for dyslexia is much easier if it happens during the early childhood years. I believe that dealing with the psychological impact of a learning challenge is the single biggest obstacle to remediation. One must believe that there is a future before one is willing to work toward that future. Unconditional support, guidance and acceptance from significant adults are the keys to nurturing confidence, resilience, and ultimately success.
As Head of Assets School, I’m passionate about making sure that children with learning differences get the help they need as soon as possible. We have recently opened the Assets Center for Learning in Kahului. Assets was established in 1955 to serve the needs of students who learn differently. The goal of the center is to help students from K -12th grade with learning differences, as well as their families and teachers who interact with them. Please contact us to learn more or to inquire about our financial assistance program.