Daveed Gittens is an 18-year-old Harrison College student with a strong conviction. For the past three years, he has been the president of the charity Dyslexia No Limits, providing educational opportunities for students with dyslexia.
Gittens created Dyslexia No Limits in 2014, while in his third year at the Crumpton Street, St Michael educational institution, when he recognized that there was no charitable organization or representative for persons living with the disorder.
“I was saying I’m always seeing people doing things for cancer and HIV but I have never seen anything for dyslexia. I was saying if there is nothing being done, I should be the one to do something about it because if I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem,” the ambitious teen said.
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that makes it difficult for people to read. People with dyslexia have trouble reading accurately and fluently and may also have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling and writing.
Gittens was diagnosed with the disorder at the age of seven, after his parents and teachers realized that the Class 2 student had great difficulty reading and writing.
“I used to do very badly in English and my parents always used to say ‘two smart people cannot make a stupid child’,” he recalled.
Although he demonstrated the ability to understand, Gittens faltered in the execution, leaving educators to assume that he was being lazy or a troublesome student.
“I was called lazy when I was in primary school because no one understood what dyslexia was,” he said.
Armed with his experiences and determination, he now seeks to educate and spread awareness of the learning disability to his peers and the general public. Dyslexia No Limits provides financial aid for dyslexic students to get treatment at the Caribbean Dyslexia Centre. To date, the charity caters to more than 50 persons.
Gittens has made appearances at the University of West Indies and the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College to spread awareness about dyslexia, giving people insight into the reality of living with the disorder.
“Many people don’t think that dyslexia exists; they think that it is a myth. So, first, people need to be educated that it is something that does exist,” the teenager insisted.
Gittens has seen the intolerance and ignorance of people who refuse to acknowledge the disorder among their family members.
“I have heard parents say they don’t want their children called dyslexic because it means their child is stupid. It doesn’t mean their child is stupid, it just means that the way they process information is different,” the sixth former said.
Thanks to the Dyslexia No Limits Club at Harrison College, Gittens’ peers and the rest of the school population have been educated about the disorder that affects approximately 10 per cent of the global population.
“You have to support persons with it [dyslexia]. They need the tools to get through with their education so that they can bring out the best that they can be, because you might be brilliant but because you are hindered in the area of reading, you are not able to materialize to your full potential,” contended Gittens.
Rather than seeing himself at a disadvantage, the secondary school student has embraced the disorder. His dislike for words has pushed him in the direction of mathematics.
“I would say I am proud of being dyslexic. It is an interesting way to live life. You might not be able to spell too well, but Microsoft Word has autocorrect,” he wittingly added.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it hard to read, write, and spell. It occurs because the brain jumbles or mixes up letters and words. Children with dyslexia often have a poor memory of spoken and written words.
Having dyslexia does not mean that a child’s ability to learn is below average. In fact, many people with dyslexia are very bright. But not being able to read well can make many areas of learning difficult.
Dyslexia is also called specific reading disability, reading disorder, and reading disability.
What causes dyslexia?
Experts don’t know for sure what causes dyslexia, but it often runs in families. So it may be passed from parents to children. Also, some studies have found problems with how the brain links letters and words with the sounds they make.
Dyslexia is not caused by poor vision and people with dyslexia do not see letters and words backward.
What are the symptoms?
Signs of dyslexia in children who are too young for school include:
· Talking later than expected.
· Being slow to learn new words.
· Problems rhyming.
· Problems following directions that have many steps.
How is dyslexia diagnosed?
A doctor or a school professional (such as a reading specialist) will ask you what signs of dyslexia you and your child’s teachers have seen. He or she will ask your child questions too. Your child may be offered reading and skill tests. Tests may include those that look at your child’s personality and how he or she learns, solves problems, and uses words. Your child may also have an IQ test.
These tests can help find out if your child has dyslexia or another learning problem.
How is it treated?
Treatment uses a number of teaching methods to help your child read better. These methods include:
· Teaching how letters are linked to sounds to make words.
· Having the child read aloud with a teacher’s help.
· Teaching the child to listen to and repeat instructions.