Please join us for the second in a multi-part series celebrating the students and parents whose stories make up our story. Murphy's mom, Melissa, share their family journey to his dyslexia diagnosis:
“Hi! My name is Melissa and this is my son Murphy. He has dyslexia. He also has black hair and a winning personality!” This is how I begin the school year with most of my son’s teachers. It seems to break the ice and open the door in a positive way to allow them to hear about the best way to teach him and also lets them know that it’s just another part of him-like the color of his eyes or the way he speaks.
Our journey with dyslexia and learning how to learn with it technically began in his third grade but was evident many years before. Murphy always had an adult vocabulary- using what I call ten-dollar words at a young age. I just knew this kid was going to become a voracious reader, so I went straight out and purchased the entire set of Harry Potter books for later. But something seemed off in kindergarten. He didn’t catch on to reading. I mean not at all. But the optimist in me sent him on to first grade just thinking he needed a little more time. But first grade was the same. Barely reading anything and certainly not that Harry Potter set. We held him back, repeated first grade and sent him to a different school. He improved but mostly was able to do decently in his class because of non-reading projects. His gift for gab didn’t hurt and he was working hard. But the books were getting harder and he was lagging.
By third grade he had a fresh out of college teacher, newly minted in many new techniques and issues in children. She suggested he be tested for dyslexia. I thought she was nuts but did it anyway. And boom. There it was. Glad to find an answer and looking for what to do now. Murphy was still the same hardworking kid as always and he has never felt less for having this. I think he sees it as a challenge. But I saw it as a hurdle. I read everything I could about dyslexia-and began to make changes at his school as to how they approached him with learning. More time on tests, use of audio books and video. That’s all I knew to do. We were living in New Jersey and moving to MO. I was determined to help him find a school, tutoring- something that would help him not just to cope but to improve what reading skills he had. With a quick google I located the SCDL, jotted down that number and called when we moved.
Not bragging but I consider it one of the best parenting moves I’ve made. (Okay. Maybe a little brag.). He began tutoring three times a week. Loved going. His tutor got how he read and made learning fun- not just a demand to read, read, read. Slowly he inched up in school. But homework was killing him. He had a 504 plan in place at school but there was confusion as to what he was able to do. I remember one assignment was to locate a specific word on a page and derive its meaning from context. Literally like looking for a unicorn with him. But yet he kept plugging away and improved with tutoring. Another school change when he went to middle school. This was an IB school with a teaching method that worked well with how he learned and the work he was doing at the center. Finally the best combination for him. He continued tutoring and finished the program in the fall.
The skills, coping methods etc. that he learned from the center carry him. Proud Murphy moment- his grades are A’s and B’s currently. He is on his school’s math team. Yes, he still has no love of reading, but it is no longer a hindrance to his learning. He’s always wanted to be a marine biologist and now I actually can see him achieving this dream. Yes -every school year I will probably start it off with the same sentence “hi, my name is,” etc. but now we both have the tools to move forward. And the future looks promising.