Journey of a ‘Reluctant Reader’

Irlens
I recently received a Facebook message from Kylie, the mother of a boy who suffers from dyslexia and has been very reluctant to read. I was so moved by her story of him becoming an overnight reader that I asked if she would share the story with others. I hope it’s useful for anyone who suspects that their child may be dyslexic or have other barriers to literacy. (Sorry about the shameless plugs for my Tom Weekly books. Kylie’s words, not mine!)

From Kylie:

My son has pretty severe dyslexia. He has a number of other learning issues that stand in his way like comprehension of what he is reading, word recall and lack of concentration. He refused to read or even attempt it. Homework was like World War 3. We just didn’t go there. It wasn’t worth it. He had fights everyday and he disrupted the other students. We have been to a number of medical appointments to try to find an answer. A number of tests, counselling sessions, reports, recommendations but none of it seemed to change anything.

Dyslexia Seminar

We live just over an hour from Orange, NSW, where we used to go once a week for private speech and OT classes, sometime $180 a week without travel. The local hospital 32 kilometres away, couldn’t see him anymore as he had started school and they didn’t have a spot. It was very financially draining. The teachers have struggled with him and he repeated year one. We were told by a teacher that she had to leave him behind as she had 30 other students to teach. I asked her if she had read his file and she said no. He is now in year six. We were recently invited to a dyslexia seminar. A lightbulb moment! His year six teacher also came with us as she was at wit’s end with him and wanted to learn about dyslexia. Everything they told us, my son nodded his head. I asked him why he never told us that his words moved, or that he sees pictures, not words for example. He said he thought it was normal.

Irlen Lenses Test

We made an appointment to see if Irlen glasses would help. She said it takes one hour to do the test. Within two minutes, the lady said that the test was over, he needs them. Within five minutes they found his colour and he was reading like a normal kid. I cried! Pretty life changing.
He still struggles with big words but by the amount of time he now spends reading, this should be fixed in no time. He was top in his Maths class but once they started adding words and sentences, he had slipped backwards. He got really depressed and kept calling himself dumb. Now with his glasses he is a new kid, ready in class, always asking to read.

The Reading Journey

We travelled to Sydney the day he got his glasses and stopped in at Big W as Tully wanted some books. I agreed as I would never have had that conversation with him before. He picked up the Tom Weekly books as they had bright colours and quirky covers. He immediately started reading it to me. It made him laugh as the content was very funny and well-suited well to him. I hadn’t seen him read and laugh. It was quite refreshing, except he would get to a good bit and he would start laughing again so I would have to wait until he stopped laughing to see how it ended. We spent about $60 on books! When we got to the cabin, he spent two hours reading to us. No TV, no internet, no fights or anything, just pure reading!! I was in awe. A few months on he still loves to read. We need to go back to the city to get new books but he loves it and his teacher has seen such an improvement.

Advice for Other Parents

He waits until we get home from work and grabs a book and starts reading as we potter around. He loves the Tom Weekly series as it is fun and plays with words. It also suits the adults. I even had a comment from his teacher who had to demand that he put his book down. She thought that she would never have to say that.  LOL! Advice for other parents is to try whatever you can. We were being told that it’s a boy thing and that he would grow out of it but I was scared that he was becoming depressed, thinking he wasn’t smart. He is a totally different boy now and he loves life.
Thanks for sharing the journey, Kylie. Feel free to leave comments below. And check out the Wikipedia page and other research on Irlen glasses. Some report miraculous results like Kylie and her son. Others question whether sufficient research has been done to date.
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