The journalist discussed the emotional impact of growing up with a learning disorder. "Building confidence is everything," he said.
Richard Engel describes beautifully what many of our students experience. The over emphasis on academic skills and testing in school crushes confidence. Later however, we may be in situations where other skills--unnecessary in a classroom --surface, define success and build confidence in those new environments. The sad thing is that the early traumatic defeats in school are never erased. Millions even billions of dollars of earnings as an adult can not pay the debt incurred by that early failure in reading in primary school.--Lou
"...Early on he seemed like a bright student. He attended a Montessori school and there were no signs of any learning disorder, although he remembers needing to sing the alphabet song a lot to remember his letters. Things changed when he transferred to the competitive Riverdale Country School in the fourth grade and began taking tests for the first time. He was shocked to find himself "failing miserably," with grades that didn't reflect his real comprehension of the material. Proactive, his parents determined that he had dyslexia and sent their son to work with learning specialists and tutors. Meanwhile, Engel's confidence plummeted, and he started developing behavior issues. "The more I was coddled and made to feel like a person with a defect, the more angry I'd feel," he told the audience. He said he even attacked a teacher with a xylophone once "right to the side of the head" and remembers being asked to leave Riverdale more than once.
Engel's message at the event, part of Speak Up for Kids, was about the importance of addressing the emotional impact of struggling with a learning disorder. Academic success is important in childhood—now seemingly more than ever—and it's easy for parents, teachers and specialists to focus most of our attention on helping kids who are falling behind catch up. But for many kids, the experience is a demoralizing one. They're told that they're different from their peers and asked to devote their time and attention to learning different ways to learn—all while still toughing out school, a frustrating experience on its own.
Engel met with the learning specialists and slogged through school, sticking to the sidelines, for several years before experiencing what he calls the turning point in his life: going to a wilderness survival camp in Wyoming when he was thirteen...."