Breaking the Code

     Learning to read was a big challenge for me. Yes, me, the one who loves to read and write!

     My first grade teacher requested that my parents take me to an eye doctor to see if that was the problem. No need for glasses (until fourth grade). I spent my elementary school years as a member of the slowest reading group. I endeavored to do well, but I suffered--along with my grades.

     In junior high school, an achievement test showed my reading level was three years behind my peers. When I received guidance to plan for high school, the school counselor refused to pre-enroll me in the college prep track as my dad had requested. I’m grateful that he insisted; the possibility of college remained open to me. My high school grade point average raised sufficiently to receive an acceptance letter to a four-year college!

     It was during my first semester in college that I experienced a transformation in better understanding the written word. The textbooks belonged to me for the first time in my life, so I highlighted the ideas that I thought I needed to remember. With that simple act, the structure of topic sentences and supporting details was revealed. It wasn’t just a series of words. Organization emerged. The code had been broken! I could remember what I was reading! During my first holiday at home, I celebrated the big change with my parents who had done all they could imagine for me to learn to read well. I graduated with honors and later received two master’s degrees.

     Dyslexia is a mysterious learning disorder. Often the student has above-average intelligence, but somehow the brain’s decoding needs time and help to click in. I’m among good company. Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Jay Leno, Walt Disney, Agatha Christie, John Lennon, and many more were dyslexic, says Google. If you or your child/grandchild has dyslexia, hope abounds!--through educators’ intervention, time invested, and the Creator of the brain.

     I give thanks for my parents, for highlighters, and to God who makes all things new and possible!

Sylvia L Rivera