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Mother talks of son's dyslexia battle

Zina Zuill watches as her son Solomon practices a kick (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Zina Zuill’s heart broke the day her son brought home a report card full of Fs.No matter how much Solomon agonised over school work, his teachers kept asking him to “work harder”.“I fell into the trap of thinking he was just lazy,” said Dr Zuill. “That took us to a bad place and there was a time he didn’t want to live with me anymore. We were battling all the time.”At 10, his reading tutor, Bonnie McGlynn, suggested dyslexia. The Reading Clinic confirmed it.“I thought he was far too articulate to be dyslexic,” Dr Zuill said. “I also thought dyslexia was about mixing up words and letters.“He did that for a while but he stopped.”She described her son as a bright kid, who struggled to get his thoughts on paper. Because he found writing difficult, he often had to choose between copying the homework assignment from the board and making it to his next class on time.On the plus side, he was highly creative, good at problem solving and loved movement.“He loves football,” said Dr Zuill. “He was thrilled to be picked for the PHC Under-14 team.”One of his proudest moments was scoring his first goal for the team last year.“I used a scissor kick to score against North Village,” he said.Two years of tutoring have improved the 12-year-old’s reading. Technology has also helped. “He’s getting a laptop to write on,” Dr Zuill said. “And what he can’t spell he can always look up.”She said the Reading Clinic helped her understand what her son was dealing with.“They had us put on these glasses and try to write something,” she said. “I was shocked when I saw my writing. What really hit home for me was the amount of energy it took for me to do it.“I went home and cried because I realised that was the amount of effort my son had to put into things every day, all day long.“I really want to be an advocate for learning disabilities in a general way. So often we walk by one another and don’t realise we have children going through the same things. Let your children know what is going on.“Have an open mind about it even if you don’t understand. Reach out to others who can help you.“We are a private community and don’t always want to be vulnerable, but being vulnerable can get you the help you need. Also, talk to [your child’s] school about what resources they know of and sometimes, Google is your best friend.”She said it helps when teachers educate themselves about learning disorders. In a class of 20 children at least two will have dyslexia.“Try to walk in the student’s shoes,” she said. “Find out what the day is like for a student with dyslexia or ADD. In New York City, in order to get your teacher certification you now have to take courses in special education.“I wish other places would do this. The interventions often work with any child. The interventions help make the class more manageable.”Contact the Reading Clinic on 292-3938 or www.readingclinic.bm..

<p>Dispelling dyslexia myths </p>

Sir Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Sir Richard Branson all have one thing in common — dyslexia.

It's a disorder that impacts one in ten people around the world. People with dyslexia often have above average intelligence but may struggle to read, spell or repeat sequences like the alphabet.

Dyslexia is thought to be a gift by some, as there is evidence that people with it are more creative and are better at visualising things in a 3D way.

Below, a few of the myths surrounding it:

It's more common in boys

Dyslexia is relatively even between genders. However, research agrees that boys are more likely to be identified because they are more likely to act out to get around their learning differences. Girls are more likely to hide their learning differences and go unnoticed.

Reversing letters is a sure sign of dyslexia

It's natural for children just learning to write to forget which way their Ps and Bs go. It's not a sure sign of dyslexia. Some dyslexics struggle with letter reversals, but many who are highly dyslexic do not do this.

Dyslexics see the world backward

They don't.

Children who perform well in school can't be dyslexic

Some dyslexics perform very well in school. These students are highly motivated and work incredibly hard and have often had the necessary accommodations to allow them to demonstrate that knowledge.

People who are dyslexic are unable to read

Dyslexic children do learn to read, but it often takes great effort.

Dyslexia can only be diagnosed after the age of 8

This answer varies between hospitals and psychologists. A diagnosis can be made before the age of 8, but the younger a child is the more difficult it becomes.

The Reading Clinic recommends an assessment at 6, if there are any concerns.

Dyslexia can be outgrown

It's a lifelong issue. Although many dyslexics learn to read accurately, they may continue to read slowly and not automatically.

Dyslexia is innate, incurable and permanent

Early, intensive and systematic intervention can help a student keep up in school and also minimise negative effects such as low self-esteem and poor self-concept.