CHAPTER SEVEN - PART A 

ADVOCACY

Intro to Advocacy 

 

There are many "camps" where grown-up difstypros/dyslexics spend time. That is not to say we will stay in one particular camp our entire life or that we won't find membership in multiple camps at one time.  I've moved around quite a bit. 

 

Here are but a few of the Camps:

 

1.) "Nothing You Can Do About It" Camp

 

It's a club no one wants to join, yet it has a roster with millions of individuals.  Membership is made up of people who directly or indirectly were led to believe as children that, "there is nothing you can do about it." Its members remain convinced of that unfortunate misnomer.  Funny thing is, this club is made up of brilliant people, if only they knew it. 

 

2.) "Maybe things Will Get Better” Camp

 

This group is a bit better off than the previous camp but have been lead to believe not to expect much of themselves.  They may have dropped out of school or chose not to pursue their potential in higher education or vocational training because it meant attending more school.  They take the little they feel they deserve and live with the thought that accepting one's station in life is the only chance they will ever have at happiness.

 

3.) "The Angry” Camp

 

I spent a lot of time here. Eventually, with the help of a few psychologists, I turned in my membership card.  This is not a good place and will cause one way more trouble than they could ever bargain for or want.  This club has free-flowing self-medication, alcohol, fighting classes, and an exclusive Get Into Jail Free Card.  It is true that many difstypros/dyslexics have an inherent entrepreneurial mind--It is also true that legitimate avenues for betterment that are more available to well-educated neurotypicals are not in abundance for neurodiverse individuals who faced academic neglect.  It should not be lost on the reader that crime, distasteful as it is, is an entrepreneurial pursuit.

 

4.) "The Get Out Of Our Way” Camp - AKA - “The GRIT” Camp

 

This is a camp that many of us dreamed of from the time we were just wee children.  It affords us a mission where we finally find the maturity to respect and keenly consider the ideas of others.  Membership comes with the full knowledge that we can take or leave those ideas, modify them, or tuck them away as a "maybe." We are finally ready to move full steam ahead with plans that we stirred up in our own noodle pot.  This club is made up of some of the most successful people in the world.  The club motto is: Think differently when you have to, act differently if need be, and approach problems/opportunities differently without fear. 

 

5.) Camp Self-Esteem is built on the fact that we're different, and we're finally glad for it! 

 

We forgive everybody who didn't see our potential and pay homage to those who did.  We're a gritty bunch who run the wheelhouse of our own destiny.  Oh, we still get knocked down and look terribly foolish as we fail miserably over and over again.  Life pulls the rug out from under us just like it does everyone else, maybe even more so.  The difference is that we spit out the foul taste that comes with landing face first in the muck, wipe our chin on our sleeve, and have at it again!          

 

Most of us will tell you that we could have never found this camp without someone in our corner cheering and advocating for us, regardless of their methods and even if they made mistakes in the process.   The only things that matter to us regarding our advocates are that they cared and they had a strong desire to foster our self-worth. Hindsight being 20/20 has allowed us to look back and realize that if we had those two things going for us, we would eventually figure out the rest on our own.  


CALLING ALL DADS

 

It is one of the great ironies of my life, and I'm sure it confounds others who know me or have read my books:  

 

Why couldn't my dad help me with my academic problems?  

 

Did he think this was a problem that couldn't be fixed in the schoolhouse and looked for a different kind of fix outside of school? 

 

Probably.

 

Did Dad blame himself for not knowing how to fix his own academic problems and then double-blame himself for passing "the curse" down the line to me? 

 

Probably.

 

Was everything he did for me, from teaching me to solve problems and shaking hands, to coaching me in the mastery of the pause a plan B?  Did he know all along in his heart-of-hearts that his plan A for me—the dream of a traditional education and then onto law school—was just a pipe dream?

 

Probably.

 

If so, I owe my father an immeasurable debt of gratitude for having a plan B.

I learned in the last few weeks of Dad's life that he wasn't just an amateur problem solver having fun with coaching his son. He was a naturally gifted and highly regarded military fixer who saved his son using the same unconventional methods his military superiors recognized in him.

 

A Moment Of Clarity

 

Dad was ravaged both by cancer that resulted, in part, from radioactive fallout while occupying Japan after its surrender in WWII, and a double dose of medical radiation for that very cancer itself.  The medication that allowed him to escape the pain so he could die with dignity afforded him, at times, rare moments of clarity.

 

One of those clear windows gave me the opportunity to ask Dad.  "Is there anyone left that you would like to see?"

 

"Yes, find Doc Sterrett. I served with him during the war, and I'd like to see him. He was a big shot muckety-muck officer.  The last I heard he was President and Mrs. Eisenhower's personal doctor and lived down around Gettysburg. Find him, call him, and see if he'll come."

 

The internet was not what it is now, but I was able to locate the retired doctor and made the call on a September evening in 1999.

 

I soon learned that not only was this doctor someone Dad met on the other side of the word, but like us, Dr. William North Sterrett grew up in little Juniata County.  

 

He answered the phone with a friendly, "Hello."

 

"Dr. Sterrett?" I inquired.

 

"Yes," he replied.

 

"Hi, my name is Brons Lauver, I'm calling from Juniata County."

 

"Well I'll be darned, you must be related to Clair?"

 

"He's my father and the reason for my call.  He's dying, sir. I know it's a long drive, but he was wondering if you could fit it in your schedule to come to our home and see him?"

 

I was waiting outside when Doctor Sterrett arrived promptly at 10:00 the next morning.

 

We sat on the porch. I apologized for the fact that Dad was not having a good morning and probably wouldn't know him when we went inside.  

 

"My mom is trying to get some breakfast into him to perk him up a bit. If we could give them fifteen or twenty minutes, we might have better luck."

 

We chatted, and the doctor spoke in a soft yet authoritative voice as he told me a story about my dad that I had never heard. It was a difficult time in my life and I hope I can properly recount the details as the doctor told them to me. I have tried to research this story with little luck.

 

Dr. Sterrett started: "I was in the Pacific on the island of Tinian when I saw a report listing new arrivals. There was a kid from Juniata County, Pennsylvania. I thought, well heck, I have to meet this boy.  I and everyone else took a liking to your dad right off. We nicknamed him 'Junior' because he was the youngest guy in the outfit.

 

“He was so smart and resourceful that we could depend on him to fix any problem we had on the island.  Junior could size up any situation and boil it down to a simple, straightforward solution. He made us ask ourselves why the heck didn't the rest of us see that? There was no problem he couldn't solve.

 

Then Truman dropped the bombs. We had been gearing up for the bloodbath of invading Japan. Instead, we were suddenly in boats going ashore as an occupation force.

 

There was a need for doctors and medical teams in advance of the countless waves of soldiers who were on their way.  I knew we would need your dad, so I made arrangements for him and a half a dozen other regulars to come with us."

 

Dr. Sterrett told me that they landed several hundred miles northeast of one of the bombed areas. He described what he saw when the small landing craft hit the beachhead as "A world, unlike anything we could have imagined. Everything was utter chaos!

 

"We doctors got into a huddle to discuss our very loose orders instructing us to prepare a preliminary hospital of sorts. We knew the basics of what we needed but had no idea where to search.  It was like we landed on the moon.  Our huddle of docs started shouting 'Junior!' 

 

"I'll never forget his boyish face. Your dad looked like a little kid wearing a uniform.  Nonetheless I told him, 'Junior, we're doctors, and we need a hospital. Take these men and find us something suitable.' Off they went into this strange land.  All I could think was, Junior may be smart, but this isn't Juniata County.

 

“We expected he'd find some type of large building, perhaps a warehouse or manufacturing plant that we could re-fit as a hospital. Instead, your father, nineteen-years-old with just a half a dozen men, went into one of the cities and without a lick of violence, commandeered a real hospital!

 

“He made arrangements for treatment of Japanese patients in one area of the hospital and space for G.I.'s in another.   A nineteen-year-old kid did that!"

 

As I listened to Dr. Sterrett tell the story, I thought back on our father-son team as fixers.  Suddenly moving a big safe in a bank basement or figuring out the best way to oil and chain didn't seem like such a big deal.

 

I invited the Doctor into the house where Dad was now sleeping in a recliner chair.

 

I knelt on one knee to try to get him to open his eyes and say hello to his visitor.  I wasn't having much luck.

 

Dr. Sterrett said in a slightly elevated voice, "Junior, I need a hospital."

 

With that, my dad jumped up as if he were a healthy nineteen-year-old again!   

 

Dad was so clear headed that he and the doctor spoke like friends who had just seen one another yesterday, instead of fifty-some years ago. 

 

Dear Dads,

Over the years I have had luck at getting fathers to open up and talk. Many dads with kids who don't do well academically have told me that they feel guilty because they had the same type of problems in school.  Moreover, they think that they may have "passed the curse along."  There are some shreds of truths but many fallacies in such thinking.

 

Truths:

1. They, if they are like my dad, did pass it along, but it's not a curse.

 

2. They feel guilty.

 

3. They avoid the very uncomfortable thought that they may somehow be the reason their kid is "dumb."

 

These truths raise a few questions and therein reveal the fallacies of this thinking:

 

1.  Do you think Steven Spielberg's father should have felt guilty if he passed a "cursed genetic code" on to his son that made him a "dumb" filmmaker?

 

2. Should Sir Richard Branson's father shudder at the thought that he somehow cursed his "dumb" son into the life he enjoys as a billionaire business icon?   

 

3.  Should the fathers of Cher, Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, Henry Winkler, Magic Johnson, Charles Schwab, Erin Brockovich, Thomas Edison, Woodrow Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, Nelson Rockefeller, Harry Belafonte, John Lennon, Ansel Adams, Walt Disney, and George Washington be ashamed that they may have cursed their children?   It's a rhetorical question, but I'm going to answer it anyhow. No!

 

Dads, have you ever stopped to think that you have a brilliant mind? 

 

Perhaps you don't recognize your abilities because during your time as a student you were too busy navigating the alligators swimming in your swamp.  

 

Do you think you passed gifts on to your kid, and they don't know it because you don't know it? 

 

Is it possible that the only curses you sent downline were the limiting self-beliefs that you aren't very smart because your report card from 20, 30, 50 years ago had more C's D's and F's than A's and B's? 

 

Did someone tell you that you weren't college material?  

 

Did you experience all that ignorant nonsense and take ownership of it?  

 

If so, STOP!  Stop right now because it is just a bunch of baloney.  

 

I'm sure some of the people who lead you to that thinking were very nice, even lovely, well-meaning people who didn't want you to get your hopes up only to have them dashed.  For the love of God, forgive them and see yourself for who you really are.  

 

If ill-conceived notions, born of ignorance, taught you not to set your sights too high, STOP THAT THINKING!  STOP RIGHT NOW! 

 

The fact of the matter is that you were probably in a situation where no one knew how to reach or teach your unique mind.

 

Okay, Dads, Now, Let’s Get all That in Your Head and Roll Up Our Sleeves

 

We need you! Your kid needs you.

 

Firstly, no one understands the situation like you do. 

 

Secondly, moms can't do this alone! 

 

For decades, moms have been carrying the water.  They navigate the unnecessarily complex world of special education and the myriad of IEP meetings, phone calls from the school, and parent-teacher conferences.

 

If you are a dad who is attending IEP meetings and are in lockstep with mom on the educational needs of your kid, well then, you're already my hero!  

 

I was twenty-nine when finally identified as difstypro. My father spent the rest of his life apologizing to me.

 

That is not to say that all difstypro kids inherited their brain wiring from a parent, but it is common to see it run in families.

 

So, Dad, by your very nature as a male you are a fixer. If you have a difstypro mind you're probably a Super-Fixer!  You hunt down problems and smack them over the head with solutions.  Get in the game; chances are you know something about wrestling alligators.

 

However 

 

Difstypro/Dyslexic or not, many mothers point out that some fathers just don't get involved because they feel this is a mom job.  If you are one of those dads, please rethink your position for obvious reasons. Mom needs you. 

 

 

WHY EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD BE AN EDUCATION ADVOCATE

 

1. Relying on data provided by the organization Decoding Dyslexia that 20% of the American population is Dyslexic/Difstypro. 

 

2. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are approximately 50 million K-12 students in the US, meaning that we can estimate that there are roughly 10 million Dyslexic/difstypro kids in America.

 

3. According to the US Bureau of Justice, the prison population stands at around 2.2 million individuals.

 

4.  A study by the University of Texas estimates that approximately 48% of the prison population is Difstypro/Dyslexic.

 

5.  The graduation rate of all students in America according to the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) stands at 83%.  

 

6. I feel safe in hypothesizing that academic neglect of dyslexic/difstypro student makes a significant contribution to the 17% dropout rate. 

 

7.  A 2009 article in the New York Times reported dropouts are almost a third more likely to end up in prison than students who graduate from high school.

 

8.  According to the Bureau of Prisons, the cost of incarceration per individual in the U.S. is currently teetering at around 31k per year.

 

9. If it costs 31k per year to incarcerate a prisoner, and 48% of prisoners are dyslexic/difstypro, that adds up to about 33 Billion Bucks! 

 

10.  Now let's stick all this information in a kettle, stir it around, and boil it down.  Let's aggregate the data as we ask a few very important questions!

 

11.  Can we significantly slow the school to prison pipeline by providing the proper education to dyslexic/difstypro students? Would this cut the dropout rate? And if we cut the dropout rate could we cut the number of dyslexic/difstypro prisoners by half?  

 

12. And if so could we put that money into the pot for adequately educating kids destined for prison and send them to college or trade school instead?

 

13.  I think my theory holds water.  It seems much smarter to spend money on curriculum, technology, and teachers instead of metal bars, prison food, and corrections staff.

 

14.  Thirty-three billion Dollars?  It's just a drop in the academic neglect bucket. 

 

If You Think Those Numbers are Big, Check this out!

 

One of the greatest things, next to plain old ignorance, that keeps difstypro/dyslexic kids from being exposed to expert instruction and proper curriculum is the unwillingness of society to bear the cost. 

 

Of course, there is a per child expense for Orton-Gillingham based curriculum, and teacher pay is a big bill, collectively speaking.  But if we want to look at some staggering numbers, let's look at the cost of not providing appropriate instruction for difstypro/dyslexic kids. 

 

Question: What happens when these kids grow up and go out into the job market? 

 

Answer: Because of academic neglect, they earn significantly less money than their neurotypical counterparts. 

 

I asked NYC based mathematician and finance expert Sean Redding to take a look at the costs analysis I prepared using my cell phone calculator.   Mr. Redding whipped out a laptop, pulled up an excel spreadsheet, and in less than five minutes confirmed that I performed my calculations correctly.

 

Looking at stats from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor statistics, and a multitude of government reports on earnings, I conclude that if we do nothing at all for dyslexic/difstypro kids the U.S. experiences lost tax revenue in just one year of 188.5 Billion Dollars! That is 188.5 billion dollars that never goes into the U.S. Treasury.

 

Looking at it another way, 188.5 billion dollars per year is enough money to:

 

1. Pay the salary for all 535 members of Congress for slightly over 2000 years!

 

2. Fund the current annual budget of NASA for a decade!

 

3.  Reduce the average annual property tax bill on every home in America by roughly 70%!  

 

It's a lot of lost money! And remember that is just one year of lost tax revenue!

 

So, how do we make sure that money does go in our coffers?

 

1. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics again confirms the current number of students in public school at around 50 million. And again we will juxtapose that number with Decoding Dyslexia's 1-in-5 Initiative to come up with 10 million school-aged difstypro/dyslexic kids. 

 

2. School is in session 180 days per year.  

 

3. Average class size of approximately 22 students is normal according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  

 

4. For good measure, let's make an Orton-Gillingham class size just six students because we know this size is very effective. 

 

5.  Teacher pay of $60 per hour (one hour per day) of specialized instruction x 180 days per year = $10,800 per year. Now let’s spread that cost over a class size of 6 students = $1800 per student per year x 10 Million students =  18 billion per year. 

 

6. That's means that one year of lost tax revenue will provide roughly ten years of proper instruction for every difstypro child in America.  Let me clarify, for every ONE year of lost tax revenue we can provide TEN years of proper education to every difstypro kid in America.

 

7. My calculations are based on no dyslexic/difstypro child receiving proper curriculum and instruction to demonstrate my point.  I must clarify that some students are receiving proper instruction, but only a small percentage of working age adults, schooled in the past, have.  

 

It’s A No-Brainer 

 

Why doesn't society see education for all students as an investment instead of an expense?  Oh, and did I mention it would lower your tax bill?

 

Skeptical Of My Math Skills?

 

Let’s say my number are all wrong, and I don’t know what I’m talking about.

 

At this point, I can almost hear the voice of my late father whispering in my ear: 

 

Dad: "Do you see it, Nelson?"

 

Nelson: "Yes and no, Dad. Like I said, I have no data for calculating an accurate number for how many children are not getting the instruction they need."

 

Dad: "All right, Nelson, let me ask if you think it is it fair to estimate based on a hypothesis?"

 

Nelson: "Yes, Dad, that’s fair, and to further the interest of fairness in calculating the scope of the problem, I will be very conservative in my hypothesis. My educated guess, percentage-wise, is that 30% of the 20% of America's difstypro/dyslexic children are being denied their shot at The Dream by not being taught to read and write to their highest and best.  Or, Dad, if we look at it in numbers of beating hearts, we have roughly 3 million school-age kids who are being set up to enter society as functionally illiterate adults."

 

Dad: "Okay, Nelson, let me play the Devil's Advocate. What if your estimate is still wrong, what if your 'conservative' estimate is high?"

 

Nelson: "Sure, Dad, it's a fair question.  So, let's say I'm all wet. Let's say my 'conservative' number is anything but, and to that end let's go with the notion that I'm clueless concerning this subject and lack any basic math skills. Let's cut my estimate in half.  Do you know any good and decent Americans who would be comfortable with 1.5 million kids going to school and not learning to read and write to the best of their ability?"

 

Dad: "No, Nelson; I don't know anyone who wants that."

 

Nelson: "But for the sake of entertaining even the most skeptical amongst us, Dad, let's half the number again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and keep halving it until we get down to one student. And 'Student One' is an eight-year-old little girl in the Midwest whom we will call Susan Rodriguez.  Suzy is the only child of a single mom who was widowed when her husband, Army Private Hector Rodriguez, lost his life in Iraq. What do we do about that one?"

 

Dad: "Well, Nelson, I think we champion Suzy's cause, and the millions of other kids that need us."

 

"Thanks, Dad, I'll call you if I need you."

 

 

POUNDING THE TABLE IS A POOR STRATEGY

 

There is a saying in the business world: "When you have the facts, pound the facts—when you don't have the facts, pound the table and make a lot of noise."

 

I learned the hard way as a younger man that the only thing I got by pounding table was a sore hand. I've never been more humiliated, defeated, or felt like a bigger knucklehead than those times when I shot my mouth off in a business negotiation and pounded the table because of poor preparation and lack of facts.   

 

This saying also holds true in education advocacy and negotiations.  Generally speaking, there are two kinds of difstypro/dyslexic students:

 

1.) kids who do well academically.

2.) kids who don't.

 

That is to say: 

1.) some kids have a strong advocate.

2.) some kids don't.

 

There are those who think that when an academic problem arises, the solution is to go straight to the principal's office, pound the table, scream, make threats, burn down the school and crucify a half a dozen teachers.  No matter how angry you are or how good any of those actions may feel at the moment, they do little to champion your cause.

 

Be a capable advocate by understanding the law and a child’s rights. Get in it for the long haul. Above all else, understand the facts, then skillfully articulate the facts instead of foolishly pounding the table. 

 

While federal laws are geographically consistent and take precedence over state laws, state laws and local procedure often flies in the face of those made in Washington and confuse matters. Regardless of what government body makes the law, you will be hard pressed to find an enforcement agency willing to guarantee your child's legal right to an education.  The way legislation is written leads parents to believe that one phone call to the "academic cops" will bring out the cavalry.  When reading the laws, it sounds as if uniformed authorities will come out and demand services for your kid, OR ELSE!  I have yet to see it happen.  So many frustrated parents beat their heads against the wall. The ones that succeed are those that take the long view and stay the course.  Some become the ultimate enforcers by spending their own money to go to court against a school system that won't provide services.  The "lucky" parents are the "fact-pounders" who work so hard at understanding the law that they become highly articulate and effective advocates without going to court and spending their life-savings. 

 

Better Luck Advocating As Friends

 

Dear parents,

 

Teachers are not the enemy. Are there some bad ones?  Yes, but chances are if you look deep enough into the eyes of a teacher, you will see a very caring, tired and overwhelmed human being who is invested in hundreds of kids this year alone. 

 

Dear teachers, 

 

Parents are not the enemy. I know they make you angry sometimes, but most of them are good people. Can you imagine if they have a kid like me at home? You have "me" for a few hours a day—They have me the rest of the time!  Yes, maybe they could use parenting classes between their full-time and two part-time jobs while looking after elderly parents and Aunt Mary.  Many of them shake the shoebox at the end of the month and pull out a bill at random to see if they can pay it. Are they perfect? No, of course not. I've never known a time in my life when people have been pulled in so many directions. 

 

Dear teachers and parents,

 

Admins aren't the enemies. Sure, there are jerks in every profession, but for the most part, these folks are in the business of trying to please everyone with the bag of money handed to them at the beginning of the year. They take orders as to how to divvy up the cash, and in many cases, the people voting on the split have their own agenda of pet projects.  Those projects may include new astroturf on the athletic fields, a second swimming pool, a new building, reducing teacher pay, a notion of returning schools to 1954 or advancing them to the year 2054.  A few are oblivious to the needs of the children we serve.  We must work very hard at getting them in the loop and keeping them in the loop.  For the most part, school boards are made up of good people who may just need awareness from our advocates.  If they don't have our voices in their ears, they will have all the more time to entertain the voices of those nice people lobbying for a second or third swimming pool when one swimming pool will suffice. 

 

Be a strong advocate but keep a leash on your inner Rottweiler.  Far more effective than any vicious dog is a diplomatic parent at an IEP meeting who knows special education law inside-out and backward.  They are the backbone of law enforcement concerning education. 

 

 

ONE SHEET OF COPY PAPER MAKES YOU A BETTER ADVOCATE BY GIVING YOU A WINDOW INTO A KID'S SOUL 

 

Inspired by Wendy, a nurse from Georgia who wrote to me and said:

 

Dear Brons,

 

We barely got my son through high school, and then we were able to talk him into attending community college.  It has been very hard. Last year he failed every class but one. My son is twenty years old and has struggled all his life; we feel so helpless. 

 

He tried college and failed three of four classes first semester, even with accommodations. I pray every day it will get better.

 

Sincerely, 

Wendy

 

I wrote back, dying to know:

 

Dear Wendy,

 

Tell me everything about the class your son DIDN'T fail. 

 

Best,

Brons

 

Dear Brons,

 

English, he made a C, but the teacher helped him thru a lot of it. He failed college 101, intro to college, then military science, and reading remedial. 

 

It breaks my heart for him. He has ADHD and dyslexia, but he just seems to always have a hard time ~ nothing is easy for him. 

 

It's crippling in a way, to say the least.

 

We live in GA, and he had an IEP in high school.  The college actually does a lot of accommodations.

 

Thanks,

Wendy

 

Dear Wendy!

 

A "C" in English is a pretty big deal for someone who is dyslexic;  let's explore how he got that grade. He had one-on-one from a teacher that obviously cared a lot about him. Did his desire to do well come from that relationship?  I can't think of anything more motivating than working hard to please a great teacher/tutor who cares. 

 

In the 'failed' subjects—ask him, and listen very closely—"what did you get out of those classes?  What do you remember?  What did you like about those classes?"

 

He may have 'failed' by college standards, but if he got something out of the class, it will give you a window into how his mind works.

 

I'm positive that he can learn.  I am also positive that we have not yet figured out how he learns or how to teach him.

 

One last thing, Wendy; Stop pitying this young man for his perceived weaknesses and start celebrating his strengths! 

 

Best,

Brons

 

Our conversation inspired this advice to her.  I now use it as a breakout session.

 

ONE SHEET OF COPY PAPER = A WINDOW INTO A KID'S SOUL

 

As a parent or teacher, please take a regular sheet of white 8 1/2 x 11 copy paper, turn it sideways and draw six columns (three on the front and three on the back).  Label the columns:

 

1. Favorite things (about this kid).

2. Annoying things (this kid does).

3. Obsessions (this kid has).

4. (Things this kid) Does well.

5. (Things this kid) Doesn't do well.

6. Words of encouragement. 

 

Prioritize each item in each column with an A, B, C.  For instance if he or she excels at singing give that talent an "A." If he or she is okay, but not great at soccer, give that a "C." Get it all down on paper where you can really think about the details and what it all means.  

 

Fold this sheet of paper in three and tuck it in a safe place.  Don't show it to the child. Study it for a few minutes every day — and I mean every day. Re-write and re-organize it as your understanding grows. Re-prioritize, add new things, move things from column to column when necessary.  

 

Look For The Strengths - You Might Not Recognize Them At First

 

I'm hoping this exercise will instantly give you a better understanding of your kid. I also hope that it will help your understanding grow over the months and years to come. 

 

Look for the good. Look for the sparks. Keep asking yourself "how and why" and "why not." The information in each column is important, but the two most important columns are "Obsessions" and "Annoying things."

 

These two columns cover the greatest of things causing the crucifixion of difstypro/dyslexic kids — and it kills their self-esteem.  I’ll say it again, we can always find a way to carve out the time to teach in a week, a month from now, next time. But finding time to repair self-esteem, well, again, how many years do you have available on your calendar?  What is your capacity to deal with heartbreak that is so crushing that chances are it can never be repaired?   A real downer, huh?  The good news is that these are also the two columns that, given time and patience, will probably reveal your kid's inner genius. 

 

As you examine your sheet of paper think, think, think. Open yourself to every possibility. Be tolerant. Ask your kid (with a smile on your face) probing questions that will help you understand the inner workings of his or her mind.  These kids have very different wiring in their brain so don't be critical of what you don't understand.  DO NOT dismiss certain items on the list as laziness or lack of motivation.  

 

It is important to remember that your kid is one-of-a-kind. While there are many similarities, there is not a one-size-fits-all difstypro/dyslexia T-shirt.  

 

Read everything you can about dyslexia, watch YouTube videos and talk to other parents and teachers. Join the local chapter of Decoding Dyslexia, the International Dyslexia Association, Headstrong Nation or any one of a thousand groups that meet around someone's kitchen table.  Don't accept everything you are told, hear or read as the gospel.  Remember Daffney's statement: "If you meet a difstypro/dyslexic you have met just one difstypro/dyslexic." 

 

Most importantly of all, find ways to encourage your kid and do everything possible to boost their self-esteem. The world needs these kids and their gifts!  Moreover, the world needs you to foster what is good and powerful in them. We need you to deliver your child to the threshold of tomorrow.  The future is waiting for their fabulous talents and abilities. We're depending on them to make the world a better place and, that is to say, we’re depending on you!