Web Log

Truly Humbling

Dearly Beloved You Guys,

My heart is overwhelmed by the amazing response I’ve been getting from the NYT piece. The stories you all are sending me about people and families succeeding, struggling, and living bravely with disability are both beautiful and truly humbling. I wish I could reply to every single one of these messages with the attention they deserve. I wish I could publish all these stories for the world to see.

Thank you all.

Comments

26 Responses to “Truly Humbling”

  • Blake,
    You have joined the ranks of people who know they have dyslexia and have proven that there is little correlation between dyslexia, intelligence, and talent.
    That is because much of dyslexia is visual having to do with an excess perception of red versus the normal acuity perception benchmark for green.
    Go to http://www.dyop.org/documents/ColorScreening.html and take my chromatic screening test.
    The explanation is at http://www.dyop.org/color.htm.

    NeuChroma Vision in Redding CA has lenses that will get rid of your dyslexia and let your talents become even more conspicuous.

    Please contact me for more details.
    Allan Hytowitz
    Allan@Dyop.org
    678-893-0580

  • Eric Sodicoff MD

    2:30 pm May-23-2013

    Reply

    Blake, Congratulations on graduating medical school. I completed medical school and an internal medicine residency before learning that in fact I had been struggling against dyslexia for my entire life. No one told me, I figured it out after my daughter was tested for it and I flunked the same reading tests she did.

    Thank you for your NYT op-ed.

    Eric J. Sodicoff MD

  • Thank you for the excellent article in the NYT. For most of my life I thought I had dyslexia. I often couldn’t remember reading or studying, though I knew that I had completed it based on the copious notes taken in tiny neat printing. My classmates would tell me to stop acting weird, stupid or to pay attention. Even in college, they referred to my periods of mental absence as “gone to Philadelphia”. Yet despite my challenges, I graduated medical school, travelled the world, am a single mom by adoption, have held a medical executive position at a major international company, served on boards of directors and now have ‘retired’ to start my own business. Oh yeah, I’m not dyslexic, but depending on who was reading or studying, the information retained varied. Sometime I could close my eyes and see the page in the textbook or my notes, or hear the lecture word for word. It took decades for my dyslexia to be undiagnosed and replaced by Dissociative Identity Disorder that resulted from years of extreme child abuse – of all types. It’s my wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  • George Elting

    4:56 pm May-23-2013

    Reply

    Blake, my son is dyslexic as well as having auditory dysfagia(sp)… I’ve always encouraged him to learn the ways he needs to… he’s learned to be a carpenter, but wants to be an architect if he can get past the math and reading parts… I hope he gets to do that as he can’t do carpentry due to his other medical issues. I loved reading your Times article as it give a positive outlook to so many people!

  • Thank you Blake!! I will be buying your books this week to read out loud to my dyslexic 9 year old son who adores fantasy stories. I look forward to finding the most exciting parts and ending our out-loud reading at just the spot that will leave my amazing son’s brilliant brain yearning for more! I’m pretty sure he will pick up your books and try to read them on his one too.

  • Catherine L. Carr

    7:06 pm May-23-2013

    Reply

    It is precisely because Einstein and others who learn differently do NOT perceive the world as we do that they can see new solutions. Learning differences are gifts to both the individual and society when we can figure out how to open them. We need to facilitate the strengths of these individuals, not fault them becasue of their weaknesses in tasks that are often mundane. Arise, go forth and conquer!

  • I was happy to have your Op Ed to send to the chair of the English department at my son’s high school who questioned me this week about whether he could handle an honors level English class. I think he was surprised by how infuriated I was by his question. My son has come so far and achieved so much, that it came as a shock to me that we still have to fight for his right to access his education just because he absorbs literature through his ears rather than his eyes. Articles like yours are a great lesson for the ignorant and a great reminder to those of us who understand this issue from the inside out that we have to keep fighting.

  • Blake,
    Beautiful and empowering, thank you so much.

    At 58 I got admitted to Harvard Graduate School of Education for a Master’s degree.

    Confiding that I was overwhelmed with the reading assignments a fellow student directed me to their incredible disabilities office.

    I was told I would succeed and they would help me. Also, I saw a doctor who found a serious reading problem that I didn’t know I had!!

    The doctor also found I was off the charts in areas like problem solving and big picture thinking, she said if she had a large company she would want me to run it and I could pay others to read to me.

    Anyway, thanks to the “you will succeed” attitude at Harvard and hte total respect for “disabilities” I graduated, and am happier than ever in my work.

    Thanks for your article.
    Mary

  • Dan Nathanson, M.D.

    10:59 am May-24-2013

    Reply

    Blake, how about surgeons? 3 d relationships have been a forte. Lots of struggles because of the diagnosis. Excellent piece.

  • My daughter is convinced she will not get into med school with her GPA. Had she been able to test verbally, she may have been in the top of her class. She has a BS in Laboratory Arts from UNH. Did you divulge your dyslexia while applying to med school? She is resigning to be a MA or, at best, a PA. She would be a magnificent doctor, as I am sure you will be.
    Any advice about application to med school??
    Thank you for your article. It may bring hope to her.

  • Charlah Robinson

    11:28 am May-24-2013

    Reply

    Hi

    Your piece was wonderful. I approach all these articles with excitement and trepidation. Sometimes they are pedantic and oversimplified – yours was not and it also hit rather unnervingly close to home.

    I am an MFM physician at Kaiser Santa Clara and have developed a side career in trying to understand dyslexia because of my son, who was diagnosed late (in Waldorf) and is now finishing 7th grade at Charles Armstrong. He is “word blind” in a way that would be a “great case” if it weren’t so frustrating for him(and if the need to negotiate airports and train stations weren’t essential).

    Even though it is hard to know for certain, I think his dyslexia is associated with his many gifts – whether as a co-condition or a compensatory side effect is unclear. [If you were to have someone record your books, he would love them – he is too dyslexic to enjoy reading at this point – but he has experienced more literature than most his age because of audiobooks.]

    Dyslexia has also aged him in some ways and made him intolerant of intolerance in any way – he is a pretty deep thinker at baseline, and his dyslexia only deepens his incredulity as to why anyone could judge based on “where you come from, what you should like, or who you love.” I would add “if you can spell”.

    Anyway, the model of dyslexia as an alternative way of perceiving, interpreting and living in the world that doesn’t quite fit with our conventional (and narrow)interpretation really appeals to me as it describes him to a fault.

    It is an odd request, but I would love for my son to meet or correspond with you because your perspective offers hope and the benefits of struggle (sometimes hard to understand at 13).

    Thanks again for articulating your perspective so clearly and for your advocacy.

    Charlah Robinson

  • I read your piece this afternoon. then I read it again, aloud, to my brilliant, kind, creative, crafty, dysgraphic/dyslexic daughter, who gets mocked daily for being “stupid,” “boring,” “dumb…” the kids in our school district do not have the graceful command of language of the one you had growing up, obviously. Regardless, she listened, and about halfway in, began smiling a little, until she was utterly radiant. It changed her feelings, and he heart. And, perhaps, our life, as we begin homeschooling next year. Your story mirrored her own…down to the obsession with great novels and the exact way I read them to her. We wept as we read your piece together. Thank you for being willing to share your life with all of us. I know you cannot reply to everyone, but that makes the experience even better, because there are hundreds and thousands of us who will be exposed to it in the next few weeks and months. It’s a gift to all of us who have known for years that the brain of the future is not the same one that has been taught for generations in public school systems (or private ones, sometimes.). It’s a gift to all of us parents who have spent nearly a decade explaining that our kid is different, only to be told “oh course they are. They are lazy and won’t do their writing work…” Thank you so much.

  • Greetings, Blake Charlton, and congratulations on your fine op-ed piece in the Times. My daughter B had trouble with reading in the early grades (late 1970s) – and I was regularly told that she had a “high average IQ [117-120].” It seemed to me that she wasn’t any less intelligent than the rest of the family; I didn’t have all the numbers, but knew two (of five) were 140+. B had tutoring in Manhattan with university connections; a number of different approaches were tried, but there were not a lot of gains in her weak areas.

    When she was about to enter a local private high school in Vermont (1986), the headmaster directed me to a psychologist at a something of a distance. B and I stayed overnight to get to her 8:30 a.m. appointment. I took her out for lunch for a couple of hours, meanwhile killing the rest of the time around town; returned at 4 and she was still being tested. Sat down with the psychologist who said first, “Well, we’ve raised the IQ.” My response: “I thought you couldn’t do that.” She promptly laid out the scores, first on the “verbal” IQ (in the range seen earlier). Then she showed me the “performance” IQ – based wholly on designs (with a score some 20 points higher). The first, she explained, was influenced by B’s disability; the other was the true measure of her ability. A remarkable revelation. Next: a thoroughgoing plan and referral to an extraordinary tutor in our area.

    With strong support at her tiny school and that tutor who helped her gain years in testing, B. was admitted to a leading women’s college, majored in theatre, and at graduation was awarded the prize for distinction in acting. (You mention accomplished engineers and businessmen, but Sir Anthony Hopkins is one of rather a raft of prominent actors [remarkably] who are also dyslexics. — A couple of our other family members, one a lawyer, the other now an architect, both with some spelling problems, were described as “residual dyslexics” by the person famous in the field who first tested B.) More recently B has also gotten a credential in graphic arts, and is now the director in a realm of fundraising (which combines these and other talents) at one of the nation’s foremost universities. Wherever she’s been in her professional career, a colleague takes a look at her text for any errant spelling. But (says this lifelong journalist) B has also always been a notably good writer. — Thanks for your important contribution on this (still to be fully understood) subject.

  • Hi Blake I wanted to share with Ben and I’s advocacy efforts, you touched on finding the Ability in the Disability and we firmly believe that is the key to success. So grateful that you wrote the piece in the NYT, Thanks!!

    Ben’s Advocacy trip to DC
    http://blog.knowbility.org/
    Posted by Robbi Cooper on May 8, 2013, filed under Accessibility, Accessibility Awareness Day; No Comments.
    On Global Accessibility Awareness Day remember advocacy is not defined by age.
    I am Robbi Cooper and I want to share my sons first trip to advocate in DC.
    As a 6th grade student my son just finished another round of inaccessible reading tests that will be used to make invalid educational decisions about his reading comprehension level. He comprehends text above a 12th grade level, he will score in the bottom third in our state. Access to text is vital to his future and we decided that nothing would change for him if we do nothing about it. At 12 he already get it, this is his future and if he does not want to be beholden to outdated policies of the past, he must do his part.
    Creating awareness of what digital access is was our first step. Generation Tech needs to advocate for their own future and there is no one better to do this than those that live it. We need to support them, they have known the digital world since birth, yet boundaries still exist imposed by policies rooted in a time before digital and in fear of change. A world open to access is this generations right and worth all of our fight. I hope my sons passion to share knowledge with strangers encourages others to press these issues with the same fearlessness as a 12 year old showed on his visit to Washington DC.
    My son spent last week lobbying congress for digital access on high stakes tests, an issue we hope many of you will help us pursue. These tests remain gatekeepers to the educational opportunities which will shape students into a productive adults. Reading, we want to redefine as “Text Comprehension” which would open books and literature studies to other methods of text interaction, voice over being one of those. With out true digital access many bright students are marginalized by the effects of their disability. They are not able to show mastery, knowledge or skill when tests refuse to allow them the digital access they use to thrive with in class. Walking the halls of the Senate and House office buildings with my son gave me a renewed sense of urgency, these kids deserve all that we can do to open the world up to accessibility.
    I had set up 5 appointments prior to our arrival for day one. But he did not stick our scripted meeting schedule, he used every minute between meetings to cold call offices and get his digital access message out. Every single office with a flag was an opportunity for him to show off his screen reader. He conveyed to me that behind one of 50 offices that he entered in his two days, was waiting the staffer or congressman willing to help him.
    Our trip was successful and we are returning in June to do this again simply because it needs to be done. The issue of accessibility is a daily one for us, until accessibility is the norm we have no plans to rest. We went to DC out of desperation and we left with hope. We know this is a large issue and will take many visits but we are determined not to sit back and watch from the sidelines any longer. If we want a different future for our son, if he wants digital access to be accepted, our only choice is to advocate for change. Some day we will be tourists in this town full of history but for now we will walk the halls of congress making history of our own.

    • Hello Robbi Cooper (and to Dr. Blake too!). What a wonderful change our world has been undergoing. (Maybe butterflies also feel a bit of pressure when squeezing out of their cocoons…) I was myself affected when I was a highly creative youngster in the 1950s. I’m now a physician (began at University of Michigan Medical School class of 1974, but ended up withdrawing and went on my own healing journey finally graduating as a now-licensed Naturopathic Physician from Bastyr University in Seattle) and am advocating for neurodiversity recognition and respect.

      At the same time, I’m also advocating for recognizing the amazing stresses that may have led to my and other people’s neural and mental circuitry entering the configurations called, Dyslexia, Autism Spectrum, etc.

      My generation was one of the first to be loaded with vaccinations which contained preservatives. My conjecture is that a lot of the “differences” are actually shifts caused by the creative human impulse doing the best that it could for that individual when it had to deal with factors such as toxins in food, air, water as well as the preservatives in vaccinations. And, I’ll include toxic video games, movies, literature and even toxic relationships.

      So, while I celebrate the “discovery” of the wonderful human creativity that used to be thought of as “hidden” inside “defective” people — I also advocate for continued search for ways to reduce the factors that push people away from their birthright of comfort, nourishment and Welcome as equal participants in the Human Family.

      This is my brief thinking this morning. I’m hoping to get in touch with Blake and with Robbi because I’m planning to have a one-day event that celebrates human response to our world’s challenges. I’m calling it Wisdom Day 2014, and it will be the same week as the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium 2014. I am considering March 18, 2014.

      I’d be honored if Robbi, Ben and Blake could attend and give presentations. The page on my site for you as Leadership contributors is: http://dcnaturopathicneuropsych.com/wisdomday2014_leadership.htm . I indlude a video that I made of my journey to the King Memorial in DC; once you see that, you can understand why I class all of you as being Veterans too. (I’m a Vietnam Era veteran and currently in a deep time of fighting the good fight about my own head traumas which compounded my earlier overactive imagination as a child.) And in a respectful way regarding those who have lost family members in military combat, I sincerely say to you, “Thank you for your service.” Without you our society — for which those military veterans risked and sometimes paid the Last Full Measure of Devotion — would be only a shell of what it is now becoming.
      Respectfully — Ralph Wood Wilson, N.D. Washington DC

  • Bonnie Green

    8:52 am May-28-2013

    Reply

    The first few sentences of your article are absolutely brilliant! What sort of child is brave and strong enough to survive this type of ridicule and come out the other side intact? Very few. And even though you have succeeded it remains a painful memory for you and so many others. I am a dyslexic tutor in Luxembourg. Within the first 5 minutes of meeting a potential student I usually discover the following without exception: no confidence and bloody brilliant. Undetected eye problems are often a factor as well. And, mostly boys. Being the youngest in your class also contributes to the problem. I tell all my students everyone has a gift. They just need to find out what that gift is. And some folks just open their gifts a little later than others. Thanks for writing the article.

  • Blake,

    Your article in the New York Times was amazing! I felt like I was reading my own life story. I have learned over and over again that with adversity comes strength. My dyslexia has made me very strong – strong enough to get through medical school, residency and two fellowships. You have already established yourself as an example of true success. I wish you all the best!

  • Thank you Dr. Charlton,

    My husband handed me the op-ed section of the NYT the day your piece was published. I set it aside because sometimes it’s hard to be reminded of my dyslexia. I’m 55, which makes me too old to have been diagnosed or treated as a child, and had no extra help in school. IQ tests throughout my life have shown me to be rather intelligent (not bragging, I just am) yet there were things I struggled with as a young child, and still do as an adult. My math abilities stink–I continually transpose numbers in my head and as a consequence I still find it difficult to do certain things at certain times. Crazy. And as math and music are related, I cannot read music. I sing, and have done all my life, and as a coping mechanism my brain trained itself to imprint lines of music so that I could sing my alto parts. I follow music–when the notes go up, so does my voice, and when they go down, well you can guess that somehow I figured out how that worked too. Conversely, I could read by the time I was three years old. On occasion, I struggle with a word or phrase, but as a rule, I do fairly well reading. Spelling, however is another matter. I was 35 before I could spell “their” correctly more often than not. Still haven’t figured out how to spell “piece”–thank heavens for spellcheck! Rights and Lefts…to this day I cannot tell which is which without thinking about it. Many little things over the years have left me feeling stupid, but I knew I was not. Since being diagnosed as an adult, I have learned to let go of certain “stupid” feelings and chalk it up to the way my brain is wired. There are so many things I’m good at that what is difficult for me seems small now.
    I am a college graduate, with a degree in history, and have worked in a museum. I’ve written papers on The Chaos Theory, and had been published as an undergrad. I can sing most of the alto part of Handle’s Messiah by heart. I live a happy and blessed life. I may not have a medical career, or even a Ph.D, but my abilities have manifested themselves in other ways. I love my life.
    Dyslexic, yes. Disabled, no. I don’t know any other way to be. Sometimes I marvel at the little things others can do–balance a checkbook, turn left before it’s too late… But then, I have found my strengths and am delighted to be who I am. And who I am has most certainly been shaped by my dyslexia. I wouldn’t be normal for all the numbers in Pi.
    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for sharing.
    Bev

    • I also sing alto. Sing me a song, give me any musical instalment in the world, ten minutes and I will play the song back to you. Can I read music not a note lol.

  • Dear Blake,

    Thanks for such a well-written insight into an area few of us parents experience directly. You inspired me to write about this to the ~200 parents on the email list for my start up school in Brooklyn. http://wp.me/p3r2cw-61

    Someday I hope your book tour will bring you this way and you can talk to our students.

  • What a wonderful article and thank you for sharing your story Blake.

    As a mentor, I can tell you the children I have had the pleasure of mentoring who were diagnosed with dyslexia have gone to college, graduated with meaningful degrees and played collegiate sports at the highest level.

    When I ask families and other kids, if they can recall the player who is at the right place at the right time every time, they say yes.

    When I tell them the kid in the game who is always at the right place at the right time is one who can can read the game, and is usually those who understand spacial areas.

    They have a gift and that gift is god given not something that can be taught.

    Your personal story will change the face of kids today and encourage teachers and counselors not to define a child based on everyone else. No two children are alike and their dreams and goals are just as unique as they are.

    Where a child comes from or how he or she learns will not define where they will be long after school days have come and gone.

    I once read, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.

  • Great article on Dyslexia. I read it to my daughter who has dyslexia.
    Add to your joke file, this was written on a bar wall in Austin, “Dyslexics Untie”.
    Thanks again for the article.

  • Dear Blake, I loved your article and am teary writing this to you. Please tell me how can I figure out if my 6yo is dyslexic? He is very smart, can do everything (math especially) but read (well). He’s repeating first grade (which is fine since he’s on the younger side) but is not confident and starting to take on that class clown attitude / behavior as a defense mechanism. I guess I’d like to know what kind of signs or symptoms are looked for… I have my own examples of what I think is different from his siblings but I’m basing that from parenting experience only. If you have a minute, or if anyone else could enlighten me I would greatly appreciate it! Colleen

    • Hi. Give him two pencils. A red and a green. Odds he goes for the red. Get him to copy bdgp bet you get dbb9 or similar. Try getting a cartoon strip that visually tells a story and cutting up the frames. Bet he can not put them in the right order. If his attention span is less than his age plus 10%. Does he loose time? Can you set a timer for five minuets and see if he can recall what he was doing five minuets ago. Traffic lights are a nightmare for dyslexic people. Get him to shout stop go and note if he gets it mixed up. Ok you have a dyslexic kid.
      Bye coloured se through document pockets. I like light blue. It stops the words swimming around. Get an iPad and turn down the back light and change to cepta or white text on black back ground. Use a wooden ruler under each line of text so you can’t see below it. Sing. It really helps to remember things and it’s fun. Audio books for a break. I have learned sign language as it helps to overcome the mental block of remembering the right word or what I am supposed to do. To much Xbox and TV don’t help as they just over excite the recognition part of your brain and can make dyslexic kids agitated and aggressive. As can fluorescent or non natural and overly bright lighting. Putting natural lighting in your home will help. You may want to employ a specialist teacher. They break down words into silabuls. Be fore bi cy cle fan tast ic etc and teaches their individual meanings. This way a dyslexic person can build up their words or substitute ones they can remember because they know the meaning of the parts. It’s a bit like English as a second language teaching. However it’s got me through uni and my son up from an e to a c in his gcse grading after five months.

  • Lincoln Dewey

    3:20 pm Jun-24-2013

    Reply

    Mr. Charlton,

    Thank you for your contribution to the “Unfettered” anthology. I heard contributors were not being paid made me want to reach out and show my gratitude toward the authors who made this possible. I have only been on your website a few minutes and I feel like I should of known who you are before now. I wish you all the luck in the world and look forward to reading your story.

    Lincoln Dewey
    -A Fantasy Fan

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