Dyslexia in the First Person: Extraordinary Achievers

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October 2013

Quinn’s Quest

By Kristen L. Penczek, M.A.

Anyone with dyslexia is all too aware of the many challenges one has to face over his or her lifetime. Any parent of a child with dyslexia is often reminded of the heartache his or her child goes through. Any educator who frequently works with an individual with dyslexia sees the struggles. What if you step back for a moment, refocus your outlook, alter your perception, change your angle, and see the magnificence in all of it? This is the moment when the burden and anxiety become passion and empowerment. This is Quinn Lathrop.

Quinn LathropQuinn Lathrop is a remarkable 11 year old who has an extraordinary passion to educate the world about dyslexia. Quinn has dyslexia. And he thinks, no, he knows, it is a gift.

The start of Quinn’s journey is not unlike many others. Early on his speech was delayed, and so he received speech therapy. In kindergarten, while his friends began learning the fundamentals of reading, he struggled with the basics. When his parents sought guidance from his teachers, they were told not to worry and that he’d catch-up by third grade. First grade came and went, but his reading stood still. Again, his parents were reassured by his teachers not to be concerned and that he’d catch-up by third grade. In second grade, Quinn’s friends were reading with ease and speed, but next to them, Quinn simply couldn’t keep up. Yet again, his parents were told, he’d catch-up by third grade. Then, all of a sudden, he was in third grade… and he couldn’t read.

It was his third grade teacher who validated his parent’s concerns and said something wasn’t right. Quinn needed help. His teacher then took it upon herself to investigate what could be causing this incredibly intelligent, talented, and social child to struggle so much. Her digging led to an idea, and his parent’s had him evaluated for dyslexia.

With a diagnosis of dyslexia in hand, Quinn has achieved great success with the assistance of amazing tutors, fantastic teachers, a knowledgeable principal, and incredibly supportive parents. Now in sixth grade, Quinn is thriving!  While the road wasn’t smooth, or the journey over, he is receiving the proper instruction he needs. His teachers provide accommodations such as extended time to take tests and modified assignments. What’s more, Quinn chooses to embrace his dyslexia. He sees it as the unique gift that it is, and that passion drives his mission to educate anyone he can about dyslexia.

He began his mission by choosing dyslexia as the topic for his 5th grade Science Fair project. It was so well received that he was invited to present it on a few different occasions to various audiences. On one occasion, the Superintendent of Mesa Public Schools in Arizona was present. “Quinn feels strongly about bringing awareness to encourage the Mesa Public School system to help other dyslexic students as Arizona school systems do not have any such programs,” commented Theresa Lathrop, Quinn’s mother. The Superintendent was amazed and learned quite a bit himself.  He now shares Quinn’s journey with others.

“It takes one person to change the world and Quinn is changing the world!”

Quinn wants to make sure that other children do not struggle for as long as he did so they can be taught the way they learn and realize their gifts sooner. “Dyslexia needs to be common knowledge,” Quinn exclaimed. “Too many people don’t know what dyslexia is.” He wishes for people to understand what dyslexia is, what it isn’t, and that you can’t teach children with dyslexia in the traditional way of teaching. He also wants people to realize what a gift dyslexia is. When asked what he would say to another child with dyslexia, he confidently said, “I would instill in them that it’s something to be proud of and that it gives you very strong talents in other areas and that you should embrace it.”

And so, he has set out on his quest to educate others. When he gets older, he wants to become a video game graphic designer. Once that goal is achieved, he plans to return to the classroom to help tutor other students with dyslexia.  Until then, he seeks to teach us all about it.  His mom proudly proclaimed, “It takes one person to change the world and Quinn is changing the world!”

Take a few moments and let Quinn teach you!

No child should have to wait until third grade (or later) to get help. You can help children like Quinn now. As Quinn experienced, there are limited resources available to public elementary school teachers related to dyslexia and other learning differences. IDA is opening the door to a better understanding of dyslexia by providing a vital resource kit, Dyslexia in the Classroom: What Every Teacher Needs to Know, to every public elementary school in the United States. The kit supports teachers in their passion to help every child reach their fullest potential.

Special Thanks to Theresa Lathrop and her son Quinn for allowing IDA to share his incredible journey.

Kristen Penczek is the Interim Executive Director for IDA and also serves as the Managing Editor for The Examiner.

Copyright © 2013 International Dyslexia Association (IDA). We encourage sharing of Examiner articles. If portions are cited, please make appropriate reference. Articles may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale. Permission to republish this article is available from info@interdys.org.