I tried several learning programs. Nothing helped. Nothing interested her. Reading was exhausting and confusing. I really began to feel like there was something wrong with my second child, and because we were homeschooling I blamed myself. I was afraid to talk to anyone about Anna's problem with reading. I never suspected dyslexia. I thought I was a bad teacher, until my third child taught herself to read and write at age...
One fall day, my daughter Anna and I were sitting under the big tree in the backyard working on reading lesson #1 for the 30th time. I was still trying to help her see the difference between b and d... again! We were making a new set of colorful flash cards, but no progress.
She looked at me with tears in her eyes "Mom, there is NO difference! I will never read! Can't I just be an artist and a mommy when I grow up?"
That was when I looked up into the sky and asked God to show me how to help my child. The first thing I realized was that I didn't have what it takes to help her, and needed professional help. I had to get over my own fear and pride and ask for help. The 1st reading tutor we hired was mystified by Anna's problem too, but we eventually found a specialist who understood Anna. It was dyslexia.
I spent the following year researching dyslexia. I learned that children with Dyslexia tend to be bright, inquisitive and creative. Like Anna! They are thinkers, dreamers, inventors, artists and dancers.
They need to touch, taste, feel, experience and manipulate just about everything in order to learn. They think in pictures, movies, music, feelings and movement. They are full of talent, but often feel slow, stupid, different and misunderstood. I learned that Dyslexia is so much more than a learning difficulty related to reading and writing. Dyslexia is a gift. As a parent with a dyslexic child I had the responsibility to provide my child with the encouragement, education, and tools to become who she was meant to be.
So I tried everything that the experts recommended, well everything that we could afford. But nothing really seemed to help her with reading.
That's when I gave up and said, "Okay Anna, you can be an artist."
I took her to the art store and bought her everything she wanted, she was in heaven. Day after day she created beautiful works of art, she even won a national art contest. She was happy. Every morning the other kids would sit at the table with their workbooks and Anna would spread out all her art supplies, and sing little tunes while she worked for hours and hours. I knew that she was in her element doing what she was designed to do.
But I really did believe in my heart that she needed to learn to read, and I knew that it couldn't happen the normal way. One morning I was looking over her shoulder as she finished a beautiful portrait of a woman dressed like a character from a Jane Austin book. I watched as she signed her name like a four year old. "God?" I prayed "Show me how to use art to teach Anna how to read and write. I know that You want her to be able to read the Bible someday. I know that You know everything. I know that You answer prayers. Please show me how to teach Anna to read."
A few days later I had an idea, so I sat down next to Anna and began to draw a series of little faces. Happy, Sad, Happy, Sad... "Anna, what comes next?" I handed her the pen. She completed the pattern. Perfectly, of course, it was art. For the next hour I played this little art game with her. I would draw a series of pictures and she would complete the patterns. She thought we were just playing a fun little game, but I had a plan.
Eventually I began putting symbols, letters and numbers into these artistic patterns and drawings. I wanted to see if including the letters in the art would somehow help her to stop reversing the letters. Logic told me that she would never be able to move on to reading until she stops confusing her letters. I felt like she needed to relearn the letters in the context of art.
I had a belief that the creative part of her mind could be tricked into reading... without confusion, without reversals, without tears.
At first Anna didn't even notice that the patterns included letters and numbers. To Anna the symbols were part of the cool design. I watched with amazement as she drew the lowercase bs and ds without any hesitation or reversals. Eventually I added whole words to the art and patterns, at first the words were isolated from their meanings, but overtime the words became meaningful and had pictures with them. She began reading those words as if she had been reading all along. Next I added phrases, sentences and familiar rhymes and Bible verses. She didn't even hesitate. The confusion was gone. Two months later she was reading comic books and suddenly she was following recipes, writing email, entertaining herself with chapter books, and eventually she began reading from the Bible. She also continued to develop her artistic talents and she dreams of illustrating books for kids, with her sister.
As the years began to pass I began telling Anna's story, and I discovered that many parents, just like me, struggle to help their dyslexic children.
Many parents feel like the school is failing their child, or even worse, they are failing their children. Often fear and pride keep them from seeking help. I wanted to help.
So naturally I began creating drawing games for other teachers and parents to try with their dyslexic children. I watched with joy as children just like my daughter Anna learned to read by using my drawing and logic games. My little games became popular, so I created and published two sets of activity books for Dyslexic children. We call the program Dyslexia Games, kids call it FUN. Now I am currently helping over 2000 children who are using the program, and loving it! Best of all children who once struggled with bs and ds, and couldn't even read three letter words, are now reading with confidence!
Your child is a special combination of talents, abilities, ideas, hopes, and potential that the world has never seen. By love, faith, prayer and perseverance you can unlock your child's unique potential and help him or her to rise above every challenge.
I hope that Anna's story inspires you to see your child in a new light, I hope you provide your child with a chance to grow in his or her talents, and learn to read and write too!