Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Diary of A Dyslexic Kid

As we prepare to kick off Dyslexia Awareness Month, 2014, we would like to introduce you to a very special little boy who we crossed paths with after launching our campaign. His name is Justin and he is a 4th grader from Little Rock, Arkansas. He is nine years old and he is 1in5.

This little guy already has his very own Facebook page called Diary of A Dyslexic Kid. If you take the time to scroll through his page, you will find many typical things that are important to nine year old boys  - photos of his family, support for his favorite team, a caramel cake made by his mom that he can't wait to eat. But if you look a little closer, you will find that Justin is not your typical nine year old boy. Recently, I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with him via his Facebook page. I was amazed by what I learned.

Justin with his brothers, Jay and Joshua

He has two brothers, Jay, who is 14, and Joshua, who is 6. Joshua shares his struggle with dyslexia. Justin told me how sad dyslexia makes him while he is at school. He feels like all of his friends are smarter than him and he feels left out when they get to attend parties for their achievements and he doesn't get to go. He told me, "I feel sad. I want to read chapter books they read but my school makes me read baby books. That's no fair."  Naturally, he and his little brother have had some tearful moments when dealing with all of this. So they picked a song to listen to that helps them deal with things. It is called "Break Every Chain" and you may have heard Tasha Cobbs sing it. Justin and his brother know it from somewhere else though. He told me it is a song that his babysitter praise dances to at his church. He asked his mom what the song meant. She explained to him that break every chain means that when something is hard for you, you don't have to allow it to get the best of you. You can breaks the chains on it. So Justin and Joshua said they break chains on dyslexia... and an idea was born!

Justin asked his mom if they could make t-shirts to raise awareness for dyslexia. So his dad got to work and helped him and his brother design shirts with the phrase "Breaking the chains on Dyslexia" on the front, complete with a silver awareness ribbon and the names of both boys. Then they started selling the shirts to try and raise enough money to have someone in their community trained to work with dyslexic students. 

His efforts didn't stop there though. His dad is the president of Trojan Youth Sports. So they talked to one of the coaches and got their very own Light It Up Red for 1in5 event planned. Trojan Youth Sports will be hosting a skate party on October 14, 2014 to raise awareness for dyslexia as well as funds to provide educational training in their community. Trojan players will be wearing their red jerseys and all other guests who attend will be wearing red as well. Together they will light Arkansas Skatium up red for the night! We love that Justin has adopted Light It Up Red for 1in5 and taken the party where he is! He has set a great example about what one small step can accomplish. 

We also love that Justin has created a page to share his journey. I believe it has the potential to help us all. It can help parents of dyslexic children by perhaps giving us a little insight on things that our own children may be experiencing. It can help our children because they can have a place to go and see that they are not alone in their struggles. Most of all, it will help Justin. By showing support for him through his page, we can show him that he is not alone in his journey and let him know that we ALL appreciate the efforts he has made.

Justin with he best friend, Jaxon

I asked Justin during our interview if there was anything he would like for me to include in his story as I share it with all of you. He said he plays baseball, basketball, and soccer, but he doesn't like football. He also likes WWE and playing with his best friend Jaxon and his little brother, but he says his favorite activity is singing and dancing. He told me that singing is his gift from dyslexia. He does talent shows at his school and he has big plans to become famous one day. Well, Justin, you might not be famous yet, but you have already found two of your biggest fans here at Light It Up Red for 1in5! We are so very proud of you for everything you have done and we believe you WILL go far in life. Lots of love to you, Justin!

We encourage you all to stop by Justin's page and check it out. You won't be disappointed!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Story ~ Kelley

My name is Kelley Jones and I live in north Alabama with my four sons and husband. All my dudes are special to me in their own way, but I'd like to take a few minutes to tell you about my eight year old son, Pierce. 

Me and Pierce

He is in the third grade now and, while he is very smart, he struggles everyday. I noticed early on that he didn't hit all the growth markers as my older two sons did. He had trouble talking, learning his abc's, and spelling his name even took him half way through kindergraden to get down without messing it up. In the 1st grade his teacher said that he didn't try hard enough and that I should offer rewards for him doing his work and practice reading. I tried this before she had suggested it and still by the end of every night he would break down crying saying he just couldn't do it. I tried to talk to his teacher and suggest that he needed extra help at school, as well as what I was doing at home, but she didn't feel like he needed it. So we received none. In the second grade he started off the same and could still barely get through a Dick and Jane book with help and still couldn't tell me what the book was about when we was done reading it. This teacher was more open to getting him extra help and he got a reading buddy twice a week and got put in speech class. His reading buddy, which a volunteer tutor from a nearby church, noticed what I had known since the beginning. He suggested that he get tested and get started on an IEP. I signed the paper work and he had his testing done. In math he was above average, but in every other subject he was below average. We moved back to my hometown over the Christmas break and they started a new school when the break was over. This new school got to work on his IEP within the first week and got him on a learning plan. He made great progress the second half of second grade and went from not being able to read at all to being able to read Dr. Suess books. I haven't been able to get him tested for dyslexia yet, but he is on the waiting list to be tested through the Scottish Rite. Although we are still waiting for his test, I know in my heart that he is dyslexic. I have done my research and he shows all the signs.

My sugar man

He is now in the third grade and he is making progress everyday. We have had long nights of crying wether it was over homework or the D's and F's he was making before. We still have those nights but they are getting farther apart. He made his first 100 on a spelling test and an AR test this year. He still stuggles and it is a daily committment on keeping him on task. I have been his voice for the past eight years though when no one else believed it was more than just laziness . I love the fact that this school has gotten on board and they are willing to help my child with anything he may need to succeed. 

My Story ~ Audra

My name is Audra White and I live in a tiny town in north Alabama with my husband and three children. I have a 10 year old daughter and two sons who are 8 and 5. Someday, I would love to tell you all about how each of my kids are awesome in their own ways. For now though, I want to share with you the story of my 8 year old, Kade, and our journey with his dyslexia. 

Me and Kade being silly

As a baby, Kade didn't reach his milestones at the same age most babies do. He was a late crawler and didn't crawl the "normal" way once he started. He was also a late talker. He said "mama" and "dada" and other simple sounds on time, but he didn't start to make full sentences until around the time he turned 3. Then one morning he woke up and just started talking like he had known how to all along. He had a lot of speech problems though. He started Pre-K when he was 4 years old and he started speech therapy that year too. He made it through Pre-K and Kindergarten without really having any obvious problems besides his speech issues. He had not learned to read by the end of Kindergarten, but I was hopeful that he would catch up soon. He was doing great when he started first grade, but soon it became obvious that there was a problem. He just wasn't getting it no matter what what we tried. There were lots and lots of tears that year, from him and from me. I felt like a failure as a mother. Here was this sweet, intelligent little boy who depended on me. I was supposed to be able to teach him to read and I had failed him. I spoke with his teacher about dyslexia and told her that I thought this might be his problem. She agreed that it could be a possibility, but told me that the school didn't test for it and that I would have to go through an outside source to have him tested. I got to work are called every place I could find that tests for dylexia. Unfortunately, we just couldn't afford to pay their prices. I didn't know where else to turn. So I did what I could to help him at home and hoped for the best. Then one night, toward the end of first grade, something happened. He was doing his homework when he called me over and pointed to an "e" on his paper and asked me what letter it was. I told him that I wasn't going to tell him what letter it was because I knew that he knew his letters. He bursted into tears immediately and said, "I can't tell what it is!" Once I calmed him down, he explained to me that it kept changing from an "e" to a "u" and back again. That was my wake up call. Something had to be done. The next morning, I started making phone calls. I called everyone from his pediatrician to the board of education. I had no intention of stopping until I found an answer. By the end of the day, I had found one. I found out that the Scottish Rite does dyslexia testing for free and placed him on their waiting list. He had already started second grade when his name came up on the list in October, 2013. We finally had an answer. Kade is dyslexic. I didn't know how he would react to the news, but he was thrilled when I told him! That little boy lit up inside when he found out and I knew that he felt the same relief that I did. I finally knew WHY he was struggling and he finally realized that he really wasn't stupid. That day changed our lives and began the happier part of our journey! His school has been truly amazing. They immediately put an IEP into action and made the accommodations he needed to succeed. 

My sweet boy

Kade is now in the third grade and is making great progress. I am happy to say that his first progress report for this year showed all Bs. He still has his struggles, of course, and he has to work hard to keep his grades up. But he seems to be adapting quite well these days. He has gained confidence in his abilities and he never gives up trying to improve. My tears are still around. Though, they have now changed into tears of happiness and pride in my son's accomplishments! I worry about what the future holds for him and can only pray that he continues to do well as the work gets harder. Either way, there's one thing I know for sure - My little boy will go far in life no matter what road he has to take to get there!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Light It Up Red for 1in5 - The Blog!

In addition to our Facebook page, we have decided to start this blog! We want to have a place where we can pass things along to you that are a little too long for a Facebook post and this is where that will happen. Each time we make a post here, we will share the link to it on our page.

As you already know, the main focus of our page is to raise awareness for dyslexia. However, we hope it will grow to be more than that. Since starting the page, we have had several of you reach out to us and share your stories. We want to hear them! We would like for our page to be a place where you can come to share your troubles and your triumphs. When you get discouraged and need a friend to help you through it, we want to be there for that. When you are watching your child struggle and need advice from others who have dealt with those same struggles, we want to be there for that. And when that same child makes progress in his/her journey, we want to be there for that

Now, here's a little information about the blog and what you will find. At the top of the page, you will find 3 tabs labeled "Home", "About", and "Go Red Gear". 

The "Home" tab is where all our blog posts appear. We will be posting useful information here as well as sharing some of your stories. If you have a story you would like to tell, just message our page or email us your story at lightitupredfor1in5@gmail.com and from time to time we will pick a story from the ones we receive and share it with our group.

The "About" tab is where you will find the story of how our page came to be and what inspired us to start it. There are a few links spread throughout the post. We encourage you to check them out if you are not already familiar with them.

The "Go Red Gear" tab is where we will be posting stuff to help you light it up red! We have had several people ask for flyers to help spread the word. So we got on that and have already uploaded a copy of it. Many of you have also asked for cover photos and profile pictures to use to light your profile and pages up red. We are working on a few projects for that and will be adding them to this section as well.

That's it. Watch for more to come and remember to share your stories! :)