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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

In response to

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: Opinions

Dear Mr. Rothman,

Your editorial (“Six years in Special Ed.”, Oct. 26)was passed along to me today by other parents of children with dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADD/ADHD at We were pleased to see you speak out about your own struggles with education. It's a difficult and very personal thing to expose. I greatly admire how far you have come by your own perseverance.

Your experience with special education is a tragic example of what is broken within our education system. Districts find it cheaper to ignore and pass along the kids who need to learn differently. Parents who advocate for something better for our children are often forced into expensive private schools or tutoring or into court battles with their school districts.

What you never knew was that there were training and teaching methods that could have changed your life. Orton-Gillingham methods have been been scientifically proven as effective for teaching reading You may also be interested in the research and books by Mel Levine who has spent years studying the uniqueness of the human mind. Many others have done research on the importance of actually teaching organizational skills rather than handing a child a planner and giving them a lecture.

You may not be aware that many traits of ADD/ADHD and dyslexia are genetically based, therefore there is a likelihood that your children and grandchildren will face the same struggles you have. I do not say this to alarm you, but to encourage you to use the years ahead of you to learn more about your own differences and effective teaching methods. Intervention is possible as early as three to five years old and will make a world of difference in how your children see their world and make it less likely that they will need the modifications that you saw your peers abuse.

Please know that there are many parents out here who fight everyday against the sort of dead end education that you experienced. For children who have had effective intervention, they have come to see the sky as the limit of their potential. They also realize that being Dyslexic or ADD or ADHD is in fact a gift, not a disability. They know that they will always struggle more at some things while other things will come much more easily to them than others.

I encourage you to learn more about your own differences. My husband was not diagnosed with dyslexia until 17. However he found a year of intense tutoring very beneficial. He still reads slowly, but does not dread it as before. It did not stop him from attaining a college degree, being a gifted musician and photographer or running a successful business.

While you may not realize it yet, the real world is actually full of accommodations. While it isn''t realistic to expect the surgeon to take twice as long in surgery, he most likely has a secretary who plans his day for him, transcribes his digital recorder, keeps his records straight, and scans medical articles onto his Kurzwiel reader so that he can listen to them while working out, and the only thing he is thinking about when he walks into the operating room is how to help his patient. And these assistants do this everyday whether the doctor they work with has a learning difference or is just a regular Joe.

You have a wonderful future in front of you. I wish you well and congratulate you on the articulate young man you have become.

– Danelle Ivey, El Paso, Texas