Dyslexia: Success stories


Advice and strategies to help your children

September 30, 2001

As Dyslexia Awareness Week winds down today, don't let the opportunity to learn about it slip away. Though some may think dyslexia is synonymous with difficulty in learning how to read, it is generally defined as a language-based learning disability (affecting 15 to 17 percent of the population). Dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically - but that doesn't mean that success in other matters is elusive.

"Many disabilities that produce failure in traditional schools might be seen as abilities in life's rough waters," explains Sally Smith in her book Succeeding Against the Odds. Notables such as Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Hans Christian Anderson had tremendous difficulty in school, but did nothing less than transform history as they excelled in other pursuits.

Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert cartoon, explains some of the advantages of being dsylexic in The Source for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia. "I'm an incredible Scrabble player, because when I look at the letters, they're dancing back and forth on their own, so I don't have to play very hard," he says. Being dyslexic has also heightened his creative powers. "When I look at things, they don't have to look right to me." Dilbert, for example, doesn't have a mouth - or eyeballs. "I've often defined creativity as the ability to do something wrong and art as the ability to know which ones to keep," he says.

Baltimore offers many opportunities to gain more information. Participate in Walklexia 2001, a 2K family fun walk that starts today at the monument. Registration begins at 10 a.m., and T-shirts are available for a $5 donation. Also today, visit the Dyslexia Awareness Week tent from 11 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Baltimore Book Festival in Mount Vernon Square.

Another highlight of this week's activities is a chance to catch Henry Winkler, who is quite open about his dyslexia. He based his Happy Days character, Fonzie, on his experiences. "Da Fonz" has a learning disability, but he found his calling working on cars. "An Evening with Henry Winkler," sponsored by the Dyslexia Tutoring Program and area schools will take place this Wednesday at Calvert Hall College High School from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Call 410-889-5487 to reserve these free seats or to obtain more information about any of these activities.

For more information about dyslexia and resources available, call the International Dyslexia Association at 410-2960232, or visit its Web site, www.interdys.org.

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Involved with the great outdoors

Kids who got used to being outdoors this summer can continue to stay outside as autumn rolls in. Dawn Publications is one publisher whose books cultivate an appreciation of nature. Founded in 1992, the company espouses a youthful approach in helping kids understand the world beyond their doorstep. The fall online newsletter, Sharing Nature with Children, features a behind-the-scenes article featuring Anthony Fredericks and his new book, Under One Rock: Bugs, Slugs and Other Ughs. In many young readers' back yards and local parks, there are entire worlds waiting to be explored.

Other titles on Dawn's lineup will interest kids who may be a bit more squeamish around squirmy things:

Earth & Us - Continuous: Nature's Past & Future by J. Patrick Lewis

Birds in Your Backyard by Barbara Herkert

To order these and other books or for more information, check out www.dawnpub.com.

- - Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Best Sellers List: Children's Chapter Books

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories - picture books, chapter books, and paperbacks - which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket (weeks on list: 2)

2. Taggerung by Brian Jacques (1)

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (63)

4. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (47)

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (106)

6. The Prayer of Jabez for Teens by Bruce Wilkinson with David Kopp (9)

7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (145)

8. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket (25)

9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (120)

10. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket (11)

Contact Us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on sunspot.net, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to sun.features@baltsun.com; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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