Me at three.
I remember this day clearly. I insisted on dressing myself. Mismatched mittens and wrongly buttoned sweater — it didn’t matter. I was pleased with the results. My father took this photo, a celebration of his fiercely independent child.
Me at three.
Happy, free, loved, accepted.
My life before school. At home with a mom and dad who let me be me.
All that changed, I changed, when I entered the Ontario school system.
That’s when my struggles began: struggles with reading, learning basic math, life skills (like telling time and tying my shoelaces) and self-confidence.
My parents remained my biggest cheerleaders at home, but watched helplessly as I dragged myself off to school each day. What could they do? It was the 1970s and schools knew little of dyslexia. We were labelled as slow learners, dreamers, lazy, difficult, and worse.
Fast forward to today. We know so much more about dyslexia. We know how to identify it early, and what reading instruction works. We know that if children get this reading instruction, and some basic accommodations, it will save them from a lifetime of misery.
And yet…nothing has changed for my child, your child, any child attending the public school system here in Ontario.
As we mark dyslexia awareness month, this is my plea to parents, educators, policy makers, politicians: don’t let one more kid struggle through school needlessly.
We know what to do. Let’s do it.