JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Alex and his mom represent many families frustrated with the way schools handle learning disabilities. Granted, some families have an excellent experience.
In Alex's case, however, he was sent to the principal's office. His progress reports were loaded with "not trying" and other negative outlooks of his efforts. Alex says he didn't know back then that he was dyslexic. "I thought I was stupid."
Alex's mom had him tested independently. She says it cost $800 and she realizes not all families have that luxury. She is pushing for public schools to do more testing and earlier.
The testing, though, for Alex showed he was actually very bright. He just learns differently. He has dyslexia.
But now he's in Florida Virtual, an online public school. His mom says he's thriving and even creating his own code to design computer programs.
Alex still has trouble reading. But he's found several technical "helpers" to make the situation easier.
His mom says they use NaturalReader and also Bookshare iPad app. She says with a diagnosed learning disability some of the technical programs come at no charge.
The NaturalReader, Alex says, is terrific. He can highlight a paragraph and it's read aloud to him. That's a huge help.
Bookshare allows him to get books --in audio format--which boosts his comprehension.
Alex's mom says she noticed early on that he had trouble trying his shoes, figuring out left from right, and memorizing math facts. Those are all classic signs of dyslexia.
Now Alex plans to follow his grandfather'spath and join the military in the future. Meanwhile, he's thrilled with his academic, a big change from his experience in the classroom.
Alex's mom says teachers aren't at fault. They have many students. She believes more training is necessary to help teachers customize their strategies for kids with various learning disabilities.