Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Dyslexia...a success story!

My sister phoned me yesterday with some sad news and some...well, good news (I think).  She's moving away for a while with husband. That's the sad news, because I know I'm going to miss her.   We're very close and she's my role model because of Ben. Ben is my beautiful nephew, who is sweet, shy, funny, clever...and dyslexic. He has overcome hurdles and worked incredibly hard to put aside his problems to get where he is.  He's focused, motivated and has developed his own strategies to overcome his difficulties and I am proud that he graduated from university this year with a Bachelor of Science!  No mean feat for someone with learning issues.

Ben was diagnosed with dyslexia at 7 years old. Sis had a feeling that he was, because as she said
"I showed him flash cards from when he was born, I bought him puzzle alphabets, and every educational toy I could lay my hands.  I sent him to Montessori nursery from the age of three, and do you know what his teacher said at the parents evening?  That he was very immature! I knew then we had a problem!"

For the first couple of years Sis tried every crackpot idea going. She spun him in a chair, in the hope that his brain would somehow engage, (recommended by someone). Ben had to wear yellow tinted glasses at one point (not a cool look!), she even played tapes to him while he was sleeping!

After a while, Sis knew that the only thing that could help Ben was confidence.  The confidence to be who he wanted to be, to concentrate on the areas he was good at, but to ensure that his education didn't lack. Finding his "talent" was the key to his confidence and it wasn't long before she realised that he was an excellent sportsman. Luckily, Sis hit the right notes and pushed Ben in those areas. He went on to play rugby & badminton for the county and school, and not only that, his school work improved. He knew that the only way to get on in life was to put in the work. Playing sport improved his concentration, and gave him confidence in the class room to do his best.  He said to sis " If I have to practice at sport to get better, then it's obvious that I have to practice at overcoming dyslexia".

The school were excellent in their approach.  They already had several children with dyslexia and twice weekly the children were sent to the specialist, who showed them ways in which they could recognise their weaknesses and work around them. His form tutor instilled the importance of writing down immediate thoughts without the worry of spelling errors.  The theory being, that by concentrating on spelling the creative input would be stifled.  They would then only use the words they could spell and not the words they knew!  The  dyslexia will always be there, but to him it's not an issue anymore. He studied his passion (sports) and already has a following of loyal disciples!

Oh..and the good news?  Ben wants to move in with us for a while.  The boys are going to love having him around and I think Miriam (the au-pair), will too.  He's very pleasing on the eye..oh and he's promised to kick me into shape, so I'd better dust off the trainers and try on my tracksuit, but I have a horrible feeling it may be a bit snug!

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