Jennifer Weaver

Mr. Hillyard,

 

I would like to tell  you the story of my son.  His name is Kaleb, and he is in the fifth grade. He will be 11 years old next month, and he can not read.  He has severe dyslexia.

 

The school has tried and tried many different programs to help him, with little or no progress. At the beginning of fifth grade, Kaleb was not even at a kindergarten reading level.  Fall of 2017, we realized that the school did not have the ability and knowledge to help Kaleb.  He will be in middle school fall of 2018.  Imagine, walking the halls of middle school, not being able to read. The school that Kaleb goes to is the only school in Tooele County to receive an A grade, in fact, one of the few school in all of the state of Utah to receive an A grade.  It is a fantastic school and the best option that we have, but it is still not enough. 

 

Kaleb is a smart kid and can hold his own in everything that doesn't require him to read or write.  In fifth grade, it is an accepted fact that the student can read and write for all subjects.  Imagine his frustration on an hourly basis, every single school day, to be surrounded by other students who can so easily do what makes no sense for you.

 

This is his SIXTH year of day in and day out, trying to  learn how to read.  

 

The thing that breaks my heart the most, as his mother, is that last year he started to notice that he is different and there is something "wrong" with him. His self esteem has taken a huge hit.  I watch his head hang when faced with having to admit that he can't read.

 

Just three and a half months ago we started sending Kaleb to the Dyslexic Center of Utah, in Woods Cross.  This  is a HUGE sacrifice for our family.  My husband has taken a $16,000.00 cut in pay recently, due to a job loss.  Things were crazy tight before this loss, and now, we don't know how long we can hang on.  The Dyslexic Center costs us $275.00/month.  I know to some people this may not be much, but for us, it means not being able to buy the food we need to feed our children.  It means giving up almost everything, so that we can send Kaleb to the Dyslexic Center.   On top of this cost, is the travel cost to get him there.  We live in Tooele.  The only vehicle I have available to drive him there is a 2003 Chevy Suburban that has almost 200,000 miles on it.  I am freaking out as I watch the miles role up, and as our gas bill doubles and triples what it used to be, all the while trying to live on a budget reduced by $16,000.00.  With this budget cut, buying a new vehicle is not even a possibility.  

 

I am now working from home doing data entry, so that we can pay for the Dyslexic Center.  I cannot get a job outside the home, because Kaleb's younger brother is missing part of his 22 chromosome, (VCFS) and suffers from a compromised immune system, which means he misses a lot of school.  Since he is only 8 years old, he is too young to stay at home  by himself.  He also has a lot of doctor appointments throughout the year, many at Primary Children's Hospital, that I have to take him to.  There is no job that would give me that much time off.  It is all I can do to earn the money that we need each month  to pay for the Dyslexic Center.  With my husbands cut in pay, I don't know how long we can keep paying for this tutoring for him.  The irony, is that I have to take off about 6 hours a week to drove him from Tooele to Woods Cross for his tutoring.  That is $480 a month less that I make, just driving him there twice a week.

 

This is the benefit.  As of two months ago Kaleb had never been able to read so much as one sentence by himself. Now, after a just a few months at the Dyslexic Center, he can read but only sentences, but paragraphs! For the first time EVER, Kaleb is improving.  He is learning to read.  He has learned the short sounds for all of the vowels, and is now learning digraphs, CH, SH, TH and more.  We are seeing success. More improvement than ever before.

 

He has so much catching up to do, that we expect that he will need to attend the Dyslexic Center until he graduates from High School.

 

There is no way I would make such a sacrifice if I was not seeing dramatic results, and if I was not desperate to help my son.

 

There are those that say enough funding goes to public education. Why would we need to give money to other organizations to do what public schools can do. The answer is because public schools can't and don't. Every single classroom has between 2-4 students with dyslexia that are falling through the cracks. If that many kids were blind or deaf or dying, our nation would be at a panic level. Well these kids are dying. They are dying educationally.  Their futures are dying. Our countries future is dying with all of that lost potential.  Google famous dyslexics.  These are the few that managed to overcome their dyslexia.  So many more never have the opportunity to figure it out and become something great.

 

What I haven't yet mentioned is my 22 year old son who is also Dyslexic. The school system failed him. He won't go to college or even a trade school because he is scared he will have to read, and it is very difficult for him.  I worry about the day that he has a family to support and how he will do that without a college education.  

 

Every year our public schools are graduating kids who can't keep up in the adult world because of dyslexia. There is no such thing as a stupid Dyslexic. They are crazy smart and have amazing talents that can bless this country, but doors are locked for them because they can't read, and because they don't have access to the kind of help that they need.

 

I plead with you to do whatever you can to make sure no more kids fall through the cracks. Be the hero that opens  the way for hundreds of Utahs best kids to have access to the help they need to learn to read, and unlock the doors of higher learning.  If the school's can't and won't do what's needed, then please help families help their children.

 

Sincerely,

Jennifer Weaver

 

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