I am reading the Little House On The Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder to my daughter. I kept my old copies from childhood, the ones I read in fourth grade. I have kept these books for years because they were the first chapter books I read on my own. When I look at the tattered 1970’s-era covers with shockingly low prices, I remember what it felt like not to be able to read. I am dyslexic and reading did not come easily for me.
The words swam on the page. I could not understand the powder blue phonics book my cheerful teacher brought to me each afternoon. I could not seem to spell or remember how words came together. When I was asked to read aloud, I stumbled and felt like there was a spotlight on me. The creeping dread of making mistakes and being exposed filled up my face until I was red and flushed and aching.
I dreaded reading time
By the second grade, I had a problem: I was in the slowest reading group. Each reading group sat at a colored table. These primary colors were like banners announcing each student’s reading level. Blue was for the best readers. Yellow was for mid-level readers. And red was for the slowest readers. Even though the red table received extra attention and devotion from the teacher, I longed to move from the red group to the blue one. To me, the blue table represented a great frontier to be conquered.
ADHD and Dyslexia
I was determined. I remember my envy of those at the blue table. But like many children with attention deficit disorder and dyslexia, I was faced with both reading challenges and focusing difficulties. I often failed to hear instructions or to retain information. Additionally, I frequently drifted off into my own little world, only to tune back in to find the lesson had moved forward.
My teacher was a lovely woman who spent time with me after school, and she seemed to know that I was paralyzed by reading aloud. She encouraged me to work hard, and over the next two years, I moved from a person who could not read to a person who could read. By third grade, we had individual desks and our reading levels were no longer color-coded. But to this day, I am proud that I was able to escape from the little red table.
Eventually, my hard work paid off. Once I began to read, I loved it, and I read voraciously. I also learned a powerful lesson: hard work and extra help can pay off. I understand the children I coach because I once was like them.
Social Skills Deeper Dive
More actionable advice, exercises and videos can be found in the Store
How to Coach Your Child – Kids need good role models. Skills like listening and communication are critical. This exclusive program for parents teaches how to coach your kids for life.
Adults with ADHD Social Skills Training: How to Get Along with Everyone – 2-Part Seminar with Caroline Maguire
Rusty Social Skills Bundle – Everything you need to help students return to the classroom for the development of critical social skills.
Coaching Conversations Video Course – How to use the lessons in Why Will No One Play with Me? in everyday life using real people and real scenarios
From “Hi” to a Full Conversation – How to adapt conversation starters to initiate small talk.
Joining a group Infographic – Make joining a group less intimidating – and more fun!
Building a Conversation Infographic – Learn how to engage in reciprocal give-and-take
Steps for Joining a Group Video – Step by step details to comfortably and successfully join a group
How to Read the Room as an Adult – Managing perceptions and engaging successfully
How to SEL – HOW TO help children build social skills