When my husband was in about fourth grade, his mother discovered that he had dyslexia. As a school teacher herself, she tried every avenue she could think of to get help for him, but dyslexia was not as widely understood as it is today and Ben was having a hard time verbalizing at such a young age the specific challenges he was having. As Ben describes it, when he would come to a word containing a smaller word within it, his brain would skip ahead and read only the smaller word.
In sixth grade, his teacher (a woman who shall remain nameless, but to whom I would really love to give a piece of my mind) would have Ben stand up in front of the class to read. Whenever he would misread a word, she would allow the class to laugh at him. She offered him no help, only criticisms. His mother withdrew him from the school and home schooled him, but the damage was already done. He was afraid of humiliation and began to loose interest in school. He eventually dropped out of high school and got his GED. After we were married, anytime Ben went for a job interview he would have me carefully spell out all the information he would need to fill out an application… worried that someone would see that he had misspelled something.
When Kaitlyn was two years old, she brought her Alice In Wonderland book (one of Ben’s favorites) to her Daddy and asked him to read to her. I watched over the next several nights as Ben struggled to read to her. Then something began to change. His little girl thought of her Daddy as nothing more than Superman, not even noticing how hard it was to read to her. There was no rejection, no humiliation and Ben began to relax. After a couple of nights, I began to notice that he was reading smoothly and with emphasis. He also began to ask me less and less how to spell things, eventually reading quite well on his own.
Earlier this year I wanted to redecorate the bedroom and asked Ben if he had any ideas. He said he wanted an Alice In Wonderland themed bedroom. I smiled, I needed no further explanation. I couldn’t wait to accomplish this as a gift to him. I finished just before his birthday. By coincidence, the movie came out on exactly on his birthday. It was a family event. The whole extended family went to go see the movie together. And that is how Alice In Wonderland beat dyslexia.
Pictures from our bedroom: