Every dyslexic has their champion. The person who never gave up on them and never stopped advocating for them. For me, it is my recently deceased father, Vincent LaRosa, MD.
My very early education was the stuff of nightmares. I was taught, if at all, in dimly lit, wet basements in old decaying buildings. I was declared, dumb, stupid, idiot, the “R” word. I was diagnosed with the insulting and inaccurate label of “learning disorder.”
My father never believed a word of it. Instead he took matters into his own hands and taught me to read himself. Half way through his medical residency program, exhausted beyond measure, he would stay awake to teach me the letter sounds. We would read Dr. Seuss until we both fell asleep. Even now, I can hear his voice clear as day at our nightly dinners where he would quiz me on the parts of speech, “Julie, what’s a noun?”, “Julie, what’s an adjective?” Over and over and over until his questions and my answers became one.
To say, however, that he merely taught me to read would miss the point of what every dyslexic needs to know. What he really taught me was that I was safe, that I was loved, and that I had immense talents and gifts that had nothing to do with my ability to take in text with my eyes. Dad, thank you for knowing that I was made exactly as I should be and that I am worthy of a beautiful life.