One mother’s story of overcoming her learning difference

Editor’s note: Today’s post is the second in a two-part series about one tutoring pair from Turning Pages. Click here to read the first one. Both articles first appeared in the Lexington County Chronicle on May 30, 2013  and are reposted with permission. Lexington Publishing Co., Inc. retains all rights.

What if you could neither read nor write? Imagine what your life might be like — filled with frustration and shame that even your children can do what you cannot do. That’s how Tammy Myers felt as her three boys were growing up, attending school and dealing with homework that she could not help them with.

Tammy is one of more than an estimated 27,000 Lexington County residents who do not read well enough even to fill out applications for the better-paying jobs they need to support their families. Tammy had trouble reading in elementary school. In third grade, she was diagnosed with dyslexia, a neurological disorder that underlies a learning difference. Because people with dyslexia process visual information differently they can experience difficulty with reading, writing, spelling and sometimes even speaking.  People with dyslexia may be of average or above-average intelligence. Dyslexia is different from impaired vision or hearing.

“Reading is difficult for me,” Tammy says. “If someone reads it to me, I can understand it. When it comes to writing, I’m lost.” Tammy’s parents were divorcing, a traumatic experience for her and her younger sister. As a result, her mother had to move her daughters repeatedly. By the time she reached high school, Tammy had attended eight different schools. Tammy’s teachers did not know how to help her, she wrote in a narrative about her life for the Chronicle, so she was put in special education classes which did little to help.

She began to suffer with pain in her knees. After three months, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a condition that results in chronic widespread pain.  Some say it is like a tooth ache all over your body.

While working at a Waffle House, Tammy was working on her 11th and 12th grade credits at an alternative school when she was told all her credits but five had been lost. Disheartened, she quit school, found another job and met her husband. Tragic as her story is, it is not uncommon among those who cannot read.

Tammy is determined to do something about it.

She meets regularly with Sandra Dayse, a Turning Pages literacy tutor at the Lexington District 1 adult learning center at the former Intermediate School on Harmon Street. Tammy has found that she can learn better when she hears than when she tries to read, a result of her dyslexia. But she has made a commitment to qualify for her General Education Diploma (GED). She wrote a four-page biography of her life using an app on her cell phone. It allows her to tell her story into the phone and convert it into writing.

She believes that will help her get a better job and help her husband with their family’s expenses. “Turning Pages and First Steps has been such a help to me,” Tammy says.  “Now I want to do what I can to help.”

To find out what YOU can do to help, give us a call at 803-782-1210.

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