I read Kevin O’Leary’s Cold Hold Truth over the holidays. As to business, money and life, his perspective reminded me of the axiom, “Facts are our friends.” I most enjoyed the early chapters that explored his family of origin and early influences. O’Leary faces the challenge of dyslexia and was blessed to have early intervention through the active concern of his mother who accessed care at Montreal’s Children Hospital. Dr. Sam Rabinovitch and Dr. Margie Golick gave O’Leary both skills and perspectives on dyslexia that helped him harness his strengths and get ahead of his weaknesses. I believe this early intervention is a huge contributor as to why we know his name and recognize him in Canada today.
It’s no exaggeration to say that enrolling in special education changed my life completely. To be told that my dyslexia had an upside shifted my perspective on myself and the world around me, and it left me with five very important principles that carried me through the rest of my education, all the way to my MBA and into my business life.
1. Stick it out through difficulties. You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to finish.
2. Stand up for yourself.
3. Explain what you need, clearly.
4. Ask questions.
5. If you don’t understand the answer, ask for a better, clearer explanation.
Margie gave me this list, reminding me again and again that no one else would do these things for me. I had to do them for myself. Cold Hard Truth p. 22
Until a child has the means to advocate for themselves parents, teachers and others must do it for them. Early intervention with dyslexia has proven helpful over and over. Its important to intervene before the spirit of a child is crushed and they become infected with a resentment that spoils most of their life. O’Leary goes on to say, “There is a lot of shame when children are told over and over they can’t do something. These children rarely grow up to be success stories. Margie Golick removed that shame at the exact right time in my life, before it took root and hampered me, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. I hope everyone finds his or her Margie.”
Jennifer Steffenhagen has an informative article on the THRIVE program in ONE Vancouver public school. THRIVE, under the leadership of teacher, Tyson Schoeber, seeks to create a learning environment helpful to those children with a languaged based learning difficulty.
Steffenhagen’s follow-up post in the Vancouver Sun is full of comments calling on the VSB and other school boards in BC to take an aggresive stance on the implementation of the Orten-Gillingham learning system.
I am reading the Summer 2008 publication Perspectives on Language and Literacy of The International Dyslexia Association. This issue is dedicated to stories of people who have struggled with dyslexia and how they grew through the struggle to achieve success. I love what Michael Ryan has to say about redemptive narratives from D. P. McAdams’ perspective. I believe both Ryan and McAdam’s observations have implications for how we each meet God through the Gospel narrative and actually become part of the story of Jesus’ kingdom. Ryan writes:
McAdams is this country’s preeminent researcher in the area of personal narratives. He believes that personal narratives (the stories we tell about our lives) are critical to our self-image and our ability to function as successful adults. He has studied the personal narratives of thousands of individuals and found that the most socially minded people in our society share common themes in their personal narratives. He labels these themes, “the Redemptive Self.” These stories of redemption are not necessarily religious in nature, but their essential theme involves overcoming a struggle or a tragedy and growing from it. McAdams asserts that much of these individuals’ successes are due to these redemptive narratives. In fact, he goes as far as to suggest that part of our success as a nation grows out of the fact that we have, as a group, many redemptive narratives, such as taming the wilderness and overcoming discrimination and segregation.
It seems to me that one of the major tasks of discipleship is to help people retell the story of Jesus and also tell how their intersection with Him has helped them overcome the world. They now live His-Story.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God… This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:1,3-5 (NIV)