And so it was a full year before we decided to make that appointment to have our son diagnosed.  The two boys presented very differently and because I still wasn’t totally on board with the idea of dyslexia, despite how much I had researched at this point, we chose to make appointments with two separate, reputable professionals.  One was Kelly Arnold of the Northwest Dyslexia Center and the other was Cynthia Arnold,  a wonderful neuropsychologist just outside of Portland, Oregon.

Guess what?  They’re both dyslexic – one moderately and one profound.  The moderate dyslexic READS.  It is a myth that they will not.  As a matter of fact, when tested he read above a 12th grade level – the highest level available for the given test.  But, upon further testing of reading nonsense words, we found he actually could only decode at a 4th grade level.  He was reading purely from memory.

So I asked her, “What’s the harm?  If he reads at this level then what is the point of remediation?”  She explained to me the brain is very much like a computer.  Let’s say your computer is running a huge program.  It bogs down.  It isn’t running optimally, efficiently.  So, while your child finally catches up “reading” around 3rd or 4th grade most often and does generally well through middle school, you’ll find that he will hit a wall again in high school.  Why?  Well, when that brain is running that giant DECODING program with new vocabulary (for example, in Biology) then another program that runs in the background is bogged down. That program is COMPREHENSION.

These kids CAN read.  But when you ask them, “What did you read?” Often they either can’t tell you or they don’t pull as much information as they should have.  In schools you’ll hear from their teacher, “He reads well, but his comprehension isn’t where it should be.”  Ya’all this is textbook.

Let me stop here for a moment and explain something the way it was explained to me.  The dyslexic brain is THE brain to have.  It is the brain of military giants, political leaders, gifted scientists, inventors, mathemeticians, astronomers.  Before the existence of the printing press, these were the people who ruled the world.  They are often highly gifted.  As a matter of fact there are people who believe, reading aside, you could “diagnose” dyslexics based solely from their unique gifts.  I absolutely agree.

My oldest son is past his hurdle of learning to read.  It no longer stymies his academic prowess.  He is intellectually gifted.  It is pure joy to see him succeed now, as a junior in high school.  He has all the gifts that accompany that beautiful dyslexic brain and the reading challenges no longer hold him back.

I cannot encourage you enough – remediate the reading skills.  Don’t let a child question whether he is bright or not based on his reading ability.  Do not allow that to be the measure of him.  Most people who are dyslexic have elementary stories – tales of being in a separate “slow” reading group, being held back in school, being called upon to read aloud much to their shame and consternation.   As a matter of fact, science is currently estimating 50% of prison inmates are dyslexic.  How much did their early academic experience scar their outlook of themselves?

We CAN fix this.  Please join  your state’s Decoding Dyslexia page on Facebook so that you are aware of the legislation going through your state’s House of Representatives and Senate.  Be active.  Be an advocate for your child.