by Melinda Beck -
Skye Lucas tested in the gifted range in preschool. But she fell behind her kindergarten classmates when they started reading. Then, like many other dyslexic children in Manhattan private schools, she was subtly asked to leave.
Getting “kicked out,” as Ms. Lucas puts it, was a blessing in disguise. She spent the next two years at the Windward School in nearby White Plains, one of several schools that specialize in helping students with language-based learning disabilities return to the mainstream.
Windward uses a “multi-sensory approach to teaching symbol-sound correlations,” says head of school John D. Russell, who says Windward has ten times more applicants than it can accept, especially in the fourth grade when many bright kids first encounter reading trouble.
Windward’s program is based on Orton-Gillingham approach, an intensive, sequential phonics-based system designed to teach kids who can’t read well skills that help them compensate. As Ms. Lucas puts it, “I learned to crack the code.”
She returned to a traditional school for third grade—less anxious and more focused. “Dyslexia doesn’t just go away—I’m always going to have it,” Ms. Lucas says. “But I actually do enjoy reading now.” She also uses flash cards in every subject to help study. She looks up words on an online dictionary, and she gets extra time on tests and quizzes “because it takes me longer to read the directions and process the problems in my head. And I’m allowed to misspell words because of my disability. “
Some people think such “accommodations” give students with dyslexia an unfair advantage—“But it just levels the playing field for these kids,” says Ms. Lucas’ mother, Geralyn Lucas. “For my daughter to get an A, she has to work four times as hard.”
Ms. Lucas did get straight A’s this year in eighth grade, and got into every high school she applied to. “I talked about my dyslexia in my interviews—I think it’s a big part of me, “ she says. “She thinks Socrates had dyslexia—because he made Plato write things down for him,” says Ms. Lucas’ mother.
Dyslexia is also a big part of the Lucas family’s life. Ms. Lucas’ younger brother is now at the Windward School and when she was diagnosed with dyslexia, her father, an orthopedic surgeon, suddenly understood why he’d always struggled with reading too. He even tried to enter “Whyte” Plains in the car’s GPS when they first visited Windward.
Read more at A Gifted Student Learns to Live with Dyslexia.
[Via The Juggle]