Marie was 27 years old when I came to work at the company she was working in. As the daughter of reasonably well off parents who had spared no expense while she was growing up, she had been enrolled to try out any number of the latest and greatest techniques and therapies to help children cope with dyslexia. None of these had ever produced any meaningful results, to the point where at 27 years of age she still could not read. In fact she readily admitted later that she now had both a mental and an emotional block, which made her very sceptical of anyone who offered to help.
While her parents obviously loved her, had tried every new thing going as she was growing up and would do anything for her and wanted the best for her, all this left her with a reinforced feeling that she was stupid, slow and inadequate.
So I guess you can understand her reaction when after a few months and someone happened to mention to me that Marie was dyslexic, I told her what I did and asked if she would like my help. Marie didn't actually answer me, she just nodded and said "that's really interesting", wandered off and left it at that.
I wasn't until two years later that she came to me, after hearing of the work I had done with a friend of hers, and asked me if I thought there was anything I knew that could help her to learn to read. We mapped out a plan which would involve short sessions of no more than half an hour on three days a week for the first three weeks, dropping to two days a week for another three weeks, and then once a week after that. We would monitor the situation as we went just in case there were changes required, so that we could change the tempo if necessary.
That turned out to be the easy part. Marie still had all of the mental and emotional blocks in place that she had developed during her childhood and teenage years. I had already been warned by her friend so that her fragility did not catch me completely by surprise, and this was also the reason why we arranged such short sessions. Once we started she would get either very angry or very emotional, and usually both, at the slightest sign of anything that challenged her, anything little thing that went wrong would becomne a major setback for her, another reason why nothing would ever work for her.
I had also arranged that Marie's partner was always there in the background to support her during our sessions, and so that he could be her second pair of eyes. This would mean that he would be able to assist her later as she was starting to work independently outside of our sessions, and therefore would be able to help get her around any little problems.
Progress was very slow for the first week and we only managed to get 10-15 minutes useful work done in any session, between tantrums. And before you ask, I use this word with Marie's knowledge and blessing, as she fully realises now just what a state she was in when we started this journey. So many thanks must go to Marie's partner Alan for his endless patience and encouragement. He became the key in getting Marie to re-focus any time she started to question herself. As a result of all of this though, we had to extend the sessions well beyond the original plan.
All that said, nine weeks after we started Marie was starting to work independently. We carried on our sessions over the next 3 months to the point where she could continue to make her own progress completely independent of hands-on support. She began to read slowly, and within months was devouring anything and everything she could read within her reach. By continuing to use the techniques that she had learned during our sessions, over the next two years she went up in reading age by over a year for every three months that went by.
Six years later, Marie is now working in PR for the same company. She is now also married to that same partner Alan, and they have a beautiful son. Above all Marie has proved to herself that she has above average intelligence, and is an extremely talented and capable individual.
The only obstacle to her realising that had been her dyslexia. Her confidence and self-esteem have changed out of sight compared to where she started from.
And do you know what? Marie just loves that she can read stories to her son.
When I first met David, he was working as a forklift driver in a factory warehouse. He had left school at age 16 with no qualifications whatsoever, and since then had drifted into low-paying, menial jobs. That's all he thought he was worth. He was thirty years of age, and very serious about wanting to change, to break out of the rut that he seemed to be in. He had never read a book in his life and he felt accutely embarrassed about the fact that he could neither read nor write. read the full story
Conrad talking about his schooling, and his early working experiences.