My wonderful daughter Aynsley is dyslexic. No, not the funny kind of dyslexia where people supposedly write “Dyslexics Untie!” It is a severe form of dyslexia. She was diagnosed at age six, though even as a younger child, I knew something was wrong. She enjoyed books that were well illustrated or had “moving parts.” Words on the page seemed foreign to her. While her older sister had tried sounding out words at age three, Aynsley was happy to listen to the story. The story seemed to have no real relation to those letters all over the page.
Aynsley had wonderful tutors from age six all the way through high school. She had the kind of intense, consistent help a dyslexia this severe needs. Her father and I paid for most of the tutoring. Aynsley attended a small private school, as we felt her need for the supportive environment and teachers with the creativity to help her learn in “different ways” was more important than having free tutors. Public school teachers do a remarkable job, but they are often required to teach a certain way. The private Montessori school did not need to be concerned with her passing a state test. They could focus on figuring out how to help her get a good rich education. I worried at public school she would be stuck in a class for students that “needed help,” and that would not focus on her high intelligence. Aynsley was a finalist in the National Geographic Bee, simply by watching a lot of National Geographic television. Reading is not the only way to learn!
When Aynsley hit high school, we could no longer afford the tutoring, and so she began to home school and attend a few classes at the high school. She also attending night school, which has far more dedicated learners at that level and none of the high school drama. She took some online classes (often far harder than a regular class where you can get away without doing all your homework at times). She also had excellent tutors. If you think a one-on-one class with a tutor is “easy,” think again. She worked hard, and thrived, under the intellectual demands of her tutors.
One problem was Aynsley had to pass English to finish high school. No GED for her! She was determined to get a “real degree.” Her English tutor, a specialist on dyslexia who teaches at Landmark College, looked at the course suggested by the high school. It was part of their “find an author the children like and they will read.” Their course was based around Stephen King. Aynsley and the tutor were not impressed. They asked the school if they could choose a different author. Granted permission, the tutor asked Aynsley who her favorite author was. “Ray Bradbury!” she replied.
The tutor developed a course based around Ray Bradbury. Aynsley had loved “Dandelion Wine” in middle school. The short stories of Ray Bradbury were a big hit with her.
Aynsley was such a fan of Ray Bradbury that when I found out Mark Edward, the mentalist and skeptic, and his partner Susan Gerbic, knew and visited Ray Bradbury, I begged them to get him to sign a book for her. Aynsley was going to graduate high school, and after such an achievement, a signed Ray Bradbury book would be the perfect gift.
Susan Gerbic was glad to help, but warned me that Ray Bradbury wasn’t signing books anymore. She said he disliked doing it as his handwriting had deteriorated. She didn’t know if he would consent.
Susan and Mark somehow convinced him to sign a book for my daughter. It mattered not one bit to my daughter that the signature is very shaky. It is one of her prized processions. It is perhaps one of the last things Ray Bradbury signed, but I do not think anything he even signed can be as cherished as this book.
My daughter called me not long ago in tears. She was upset Ray Bradbury had died. She wrote this on Facebook:
“There is one book I have that I cherish above all the others..
I feel so blessed that he signed this for me for when I graduated high school.
Having dyslexia sucks but when I would read one of his books I enjoyed reading.
Thank you and RIP Ray Bradbury.”
She also wrote this right after she found out he had died.
“ That book is the most cherished book I have. I wish I could have thanked him in person. reading always was always so painful but when it was one of his stories/books I wouldn’t want to stop till I got to the end. RIP Ray Bradbury and thank you.”
I can’t tell you how much the generosity of Susan, Mark, and Ray Bradbury means to my daughter. I wish Aynsley could have told Ray Bradbury in person what his books mean to her, even the ones he didn’t sign! Writing is a gift of yourself to others, which is why I admire and respect writers so much.
- The incredible foresight of Ray Bradbury (holykaw.alltop.com)
- Bradbury On Education (tightwind.net)
- Author Ray Bradbury Dead at 91 (laist.com)
- Celebrities Honor Ray Bradbury at New Media Film Festival (examiner.com)