I can feel the conflicting tears of joy and anguish rise up from my stomach, through my chest, and into my throat as they make their way to my tear ducts and are released onto my face as I think about our lives nine years ago. Tears of joy for what is, and tears of anguish for what was.
I write my story (the very short version) today because I believe that many of you are feeling what I felt those nine years ago. The feelings of sadness as your child struggles through the daily life of being human. The feelings of pain watching your child suffer. Knowing that you would change places with them in an instant to relieve their sadness. The breaking of your heart when they call themselves stupid, or when they say “I’ll never be able to….” The knowing that there is a brilliant child trapped inside the child that “society” has defined. Watching your child go to that place called school to “learn,” when to them, it is as if you are punishing them daily. They feel subjected to the tortures of this institutional ‘box’ when they are an ‘out-of-the-box’ child. Watching your child try to navigate the ‘social waters’ only to find they are swimming alone with no life jacket. The personal feelings of failing as a parent (it must be me). I know. Been there, done that.
I remember that late night, canvassing the internet, looking…looking…looking for something. Some Hope. I could barely see the screen through my tears. Trying not to wake anyone with my sobbing. As a mother I would not stop looking and trying, then looking some more. After years of being told “He will be fine,” “He just needs to try harder,” “He isn’t applying himself,” “He’ll catch up,” “You should read with him more,” “Make him read more…” on and on…, trying homeschooling (which fractured our relationship because I didn’t know what I know now)…I found Dyslexia.com, the Davis website. I began to read. I bought the book.
Ronald Davis’ words gave me hope. In his brilliance, as a dyslexic, autistic individual, he had corrected his own dyslexia and found his way out of the void of autism into a successful, social, integrated life. His words described my boy to a T. Not just why he struggled to read and focus, but why he was a talented and gifted artist. Why he liked Legos. Why he was inventing things…constantly. Why he seemed beyond his years in many ways, and delayed in others.
He explained to me the reasoning and logic, but he didn’t leave me there. He gave me the how-to! The how-to help my child to grasp his inner genius, live life to his potential, and most of all, to know that he was not broken, wrong, or less than. He just needed some tools and concepts to overcome the obstacles and capitalize on his gifts.
As soon as possible I enrolled him in a program with a licensed Davis Facilitator. It was a 5-day program. By day four my fourth-grade son, (that had been reading at a low second grade level and had scored ‘far below basic’ on the state testing) was reading at third grade level! But, more importantly, he told me with a smile, “Mom, I know I am not dumb. I just learn differently.”
Even if he had not improved in reading at all, but was able to smile and know that he was not broken, that would have been enough. But, there was so much more coming (that’s the long version).
For me, as a mom and a pediatrician, my life was changed. They didn’t teach us this in medical school. They don’t even know about this. Why was this so hard to find?! Why don’t more people know about Davis?!
This became my mission. To share and spread the hope that my family had found. I became a Davis Facilitator and continue to speak and shout about the gifts and thinking style of these misunderstood children with dyslexia, ADD and autism – and yes, ALL the other processing disorders.
When we know better, we do better. – Maya Angelou
Fast forward to now. My son turned eighteen last month. Last night he was in his room writing his monthly paper for his senior year of ‘unschooling’ high school. He works as a concept artist and has video game concept art to his credit. He reads anything he wants, critically discusses interesting subjects, is already working in his career, and most of all…he is happy! He is here being who and what he was put here to be.
None of that would have happened without the Davis program.
So, this is to say, “Thank you” to Ronald Davis for understanding my child, from his own place of knowing, and creating the structure to help me and my son participate fully in life.
It is my dream to be that same beacon of hope for all those children struggling with dyslexia, ADD and/or autism, as well as, a place of understanding for their parents.
I love you all.
Keep it simple.