(I don't usually copy other people's articles, but this one is just too fascinating to resist.)
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Friday, May 17, 2019
A random comment by some news pundit on TV reminded me of something that happened 'way back when I was still living in California. My godson Darshan knew a couple of runaway kids who were desperately looking for a safe place to stay, so I took them in while I hunted around for any safe resources for them. It took me all summer to get reliable help for them, which says something about the real social services in supposedly-Liberal California. The boy's problem was that his family had singled him out to be the clan scapegoat, and everybody took turns beating him. The girl, remakably pretty at 14, was getting unwelcome attention from her stepfather, and simply couldn't convince her mother of that. Yes, they both had good reason for running away.
Anyway, the two kids -- a boy and a girl -- also had a problem with dyslexia. The could both read, but had trouble with their eyes, and attention, tracking left to right.
The boy could read an average book for about five minutes, and then his eyes would start wandering and the letters would slip and slide all over the page. I found a simple fix for him: a clear-plastic magnifying ruler, which kept the letters lined up for him. Using that ruler, he could read for as much as ten minutes at a time. Unfortunately, his parents -- who had decided that his rebellion was caused by drugs-drugs -- sent him off to a "treatment center" which took the ruler away from him because "it could be used as a weapon". He eventually got out of there, reached legal age and left the state, so I don't know if he ever got a replacement for that ruler, or any other treatment for his dyslexia.
The girl's problem was a little different; letters and whole words would flip from right to left and back, and she had trouble telling the two apart. I guessed that she needed to get a solid "feel" for left and right, so her eyes could track left-to-right automatically. So I made a habit of taking her into the back room every evening, where she would pull her shirt off, and I'd take a hairbrush and brush it slowly from her left hand, up her arm, across her shoulders and then down her right arm, while chanting "left...to right, left...to right". After a month of this, I gave her four pretty -- and heavy -- costume rings to wear on all the fingers of her left hand, so she could always feel the difference between left and right. Eventually she made peace with her mother, moved in with a sympathetic aunt, and went back to school. Last I heard, she was planning to go to community college after she got out of high school, or passed the GED, so I guess she managed to read adequately.
Soon after that I moved down to Arizona and lost track of the kids. They're certainly adults now, and I hope they survived well.
What always puzzled me about the case of those kids was what poor resources there were for them, in supposedly-Progressive California. It took me weeks to find a law firm that would provide pro-bono legal services for children, and none of the schools or rehabs we could find provided any treatment for their dyslexia. Why not, when I could do as much with my own small means? I wonder if, in the years since, anything has changed.