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Someone Like Me; Someone Like You

Someone Like Me; Someone Like You An Article describing my personal experience of a specific learning difference.

This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Learning Styles, Educators

Tags: Dyslexia SEN Learning Styles Assessment

Leaky Bucket

He's two years old and learning to talk. But when he picks up a new word he drops one he already knows. It's like a leaky vocab bucket that can hold only ten words. He'll remember 'boat' then forget 'spoon'. But 'boat' disappears as soon as 'nose' comes along. Later, at school he has to read and write and spell and listen to words and words and words and more words. All he wants to do is build and make and build and make and build. This is torture. This is wearing shoes a size too small. This is a boy whose parents are told 'Well, not everyone can be clever', and this is my son.

Since before pre-school, my wife and I felt that something wasn't quite right for him. Just a feeling at first and then a slow realisation as he started and finally school. But despite these bells ringing inside, we were assured that 'nothing was wrong'. It was his grandparents who discovered his gifts...

Rogue Gene

There is a rogue gene or two in my family so we figured he may have a specific learning need. But then, one Easter, he spent a few days with his grandparents and they noticed something more. Phenomenal problem solving, building, making, construction. 'He's a bright one you know, amazing.' they told us. Maybe we were too close to see...

At age 3 not just a Lego house but a Lego skyscraper anchored to stairs and walls. At 6 not just a string washing line but a Playmobil abseiler and tightrope walker. We now saw him in a different light and took action to seek help.

Official assessments confirmed traits of severe dyslexia and the start of every new school year became a weary struggle for us as we tried to explain him to the new teacher. When he started secondary school his spelling matched that of a typical 6 year old and his fluid intelligence was in the top 5%.

During summers at home he flourished then he would struggle during the next school year. Aged 13 his spelling was in the 4th percentile; his visual intelligence in the 99th. By and large school is not set up for this.

He had some fantastic teachers over the years - those who really understood both his gifts and his frustrations. And we've had some wonderful support from professionals who've known what we should ask for and how. But even they were beholden to a system that only really values a narrow set of skills and achievements. However you look at it, if you fit the mould, if you've linguistic and numerical gifts, then you'll do very well. If not, well, you should have; what's wrong with you?

My son is now at a stage of education beyond written exams where he can spend time doing what he loves; what comes naturally to him. I don't think he's ever read a book out of choice but he's one of the fastest, most innovative and visual problem finders and solvers I've ever met.

Amazing Dyslexics

Recently I went with him to a book launch for 'Dyslexia and its Amazing People' (see my video review here). It was wonderful to meet so many folks who see the world in unique ways - and to hear how they succeeded because of their learning differences. But my son, ever wise, stepped out of the event at one point for a breath of fresh air. I went to find him to check he was OK. Here's what he said,

'This is great Dad, it's OK for people like me and those ones in there. They've got people on their side who get them and can help them. What I care about is the children who don't have anyone. The ones like me who don't have someone like you.'

And there, in a few words, is my motivation to do the kind of work that I do. I believe that everyone is intelligent (but in diverse and unique ways); that everyone's skills and talents are of value; and that everyone can succeed. Sadly, for many children today, the system that is supposed to give them wings has done a very efficient job of clipping them. Why must a dancer write or a writer dance? Why make a mathematician sing or a singer do maths?

Every child has the right to leave school believing that the things they do best are valuable and that these gifts are their unique way to contribute positively to the world around them.

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