3.11.2013

Watching For Dyslexia

Matt is dyslexic. It's a big part of who he is, yet isn't something that most people know. Why? Because his parents hired specialists, tutors, and did everything they could to give him every opportunity to succeed, to ensure he didn't get lost along the way. So, I don't really think of it very often. But, I know it's always on Matt's mind, especially now with three little kids.

It started with W. Matt would admit he was worried about passing on his dyslexia. The common belief that boys are more likely to be dyslexic than girls (though this is not actually true) was his first concern. And then when W started showing that he was right-handed, Matt sighed with relief that his chances of not being dyslexic were that much better (lefties are more likely to be dyslexic than righties). And then B was born... And it started again. Now with A, the wheels are turning again...

Neither of us know what's buried deep in our kids' genes, but the concern is always there that they could inherit some of our traits that we hope were strained out along the way. Yeah, they might be dyslexic, but it could be worse. And, let's face it, special education has come a long way. But to Matt dyslexia will always be the memory of him as a little boy sitting in class, frustrated about being forced to read out loud or recite a multiplication table. For him growing up as a student with dyslexia in a rural school meant being kept inside at recess time with a girl with a lisp and a speech therapist. The school had to offer him services and that was their version. And it's the voice of that little boy inside of him that freaks him out that our kids might feel what he felt for even a second.

I'm no expert on education or teaching, but we all know that schools don't teach in a way that benefits children who aren't mainstream learners. Memorization is one of those things that didn't come easily to Matt. He had a third grade teacher who told him that if he didn't memorize the months in order he would never get out of the third grade. Guess what? He still struggles with reciting the months in order. And he graduated from high school, earned his Bachelor's, then went to film school for grad school and graduated from there as well. Today he works in a job that revolves around television schedules every day.

So, even if our kids struggle, I'm assured they'll have a terrific role model in their dad. They're lucky kids already

This post was inspired by Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison. Parenting is a challenging job, but what challenges does a parent with Asperger's face? Join From Left to Write on March 12 as we discuss Raising Cubby. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.