Testimonial - Adrian

How I over came a Learning Difference (Dyslexia)

The school I was at did not seem to worry about my problems, and at the age of seven (7), when I attempted to write a story in between the words the teacher wrote "I WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS MESS". My mother did a lot of helping at the school and it was never mentioned to her that I could have a learning disability, instead I was dismissed as being lazy, thick and dumb.

At the age of nine(9) my mother noticed that I was becoming withdrawn and as my birthday was near this time, she decided to bring a party to the class and cheer me up. On her arrival in the class we were not there, but she noticed a pile of our books all opened, waiting to be marked. She opened mine and read it, only to find that two (2) days previously I had written, "TODAY I WISH I WAS DEAD, WHEN I GET HOME I AM GOING TO BED". My mum approached the school with question's WHY! they had not brought this to her attention at the time. Their answer was that it was due to problems at home. It was nice to be told this, and to this day she does not know what problem she was suppose to have had. It became apparent that it was far easier to blame the parents, than to try and look into the child. By the age of ten (10) and still with the same teacher, who appeared to be picking on me, my mum decided to remove me from that school and enter me into another.

Even on the day she came to the school to tell them she was moving me, I approached her to show her that the teacher had written 7-1/2 on my hand. The teacher then came out and told my mum that they had tested my reading level that day and I was at the reading level of the age written on my hand. She was angry at his sort of treatment and later at home, she said how pleased she was in moving me.

I went to the new school where I fitted in better, and had an encouraging teacher, my academic level rose for the first time in years, although I still had a long way to go to be on a par with my classmates.

When I left that school at the end of standard four (4), the teacher wrote us all individual cards, on mine she wrote, "Adrian, you have worked so hard, you deserve to see success. Aim for the highest star in the sky because that is were you belong". "I'd like to think I've done that".

Off I went to Intermediate and within the first (1st) week, my mum went to see the teacher to warn him of my lack of academic ability, as she did not want me being victimised. The teacher was new out of Teacher's Training College, and a few weeks later, he was talking to my mum, and made the suggestion that I could be very "DYSLEXIC".

Today, my mum still says that to have a name to call this problem was the best news, and she wanted to hug the teacher. She now realised that there maybe be something that could be done to help me. I had different ideas. My mum contacted "SPELD" where we lived, and was put in touch with a teacher who then arranged for me to have an assessment, with a qualified tester, where it was decided there was work to be done. I told my parents, that I did not want to be taught by some old lady, to which they responded, "We will pay for you to be taught by the old lady, but we will not pay to bail you out of jail".

I went to my weekly classes for a total of three (3) years, it was after the first few months that life began to take on a new meaning for me and my family. I had previously, such a low self esteem, that nobody could get a photograph of me, yet three (3) months into my lessons, here I was posing with my teacher for a photograph for the local paper for the "SPELD" awareness week.

By the third (3rd) form, I had the desire to work with metal and my SPELD teachers husband was very encouraging as well, I used to not only go to their home for lessons, but to spend time in their garage discussing tools and inventions. At this stage, I had made a hammer and had scribed into the handle MY NAME. I submitted this hammer for the SPELD young achievers wards and was successful in gaining one. This involved a presentation at Government House, the award was presented by the Governor General. I was supported by my college principal and metal work teacher along with my family for the occasion. Once again my photo appeared in the local papers. I had overcome huge milestones. I later went on to obtain a Community Service Award, when a neighbour wrote to the school about all the work that i did for her. The principal passed it on.

School was not always easy for me, as other children can be very cruel and being at that stage a young man with a small stature, did not help. In saying that, I couldn't have wished for a better college to attend, and I'm sorry that Parkway College does not exist today to share in my successes.

When Christmas was approaching at the end of my fourth (4th) form year, my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas, my response was, "A WELDER". The stipulation was that if I got one, I had to learn how to use it properly, so mum checked out the night classes at Polytechnic. I needed the principal's permission to attend these, but as they were only twelve (12) weeks that was not a problem. I went along to my first (1st) night class, as I got out of the car, mum asked if I was nervous, but I had no worries at all. I was doing what I wanted to do.

I completed the twelve (12) week introduction to welding and decided I would like to do the Intermediate Course. Following that course I went on to do a Mig Welding course and in the first (1st) term of the following year I had obtained my Mig Welding tickets. My confidence began to grow. At the end of the year along with being at night class, I had improved in most of my subjects, that I got a pass in School Certificate, with sufficient marks to get me to the sixth (6th) from. Part way through that year my tutor at Polytechnic informed me, of a pre-apprenticeship course, my mind was made up, I was leaving school, do the course and obtain an apprenticeship. My mother and principal were not as ready for this change, but I was, both tried to talk me out of it...mum now says it was the best thing I could have ever done.

Two (2) years ago, at the age of eighteen (18), I came home from Tech and told my family that I had been asked to enter into the welding competition that was being held by Youth Skills. Having watched me take a lot of falls in my life, my parents were a little apprehensive, there was a lot of discussion, with the decision to go for it. On the day, I went off the competition, this was for the entire day. The winners were announced the next day, I came home having won the Wellington Regional Welding Championships. I also now had to go and compete in the National Championships being held in Auckland six (6) weeks later. Mum has a friend in Auckland, so we decided to stay with her and I competed for eight (8) hours a day, for three (3) days. I did not secure a medal, but the experience and ideas that I came way with were something to strive for.

After that I obtained a position with Wedgelock Equipment Limited, with the proviso of doing an apprenticeship in Heavy Fabrication, which has been set up through Apprentice Training New Zealand. I am doing what I set out to do.

There is a moral to this testimony, and that is never look down on people with Learning Disabilities or Differences, as there are many ways of teaching and we all don't respond the same way.

Always encourage people to believe in themselves, as my parents did, as it was their believing in me that I could do this. Don't allow teachers to tell you or your child, they are slow, without some reason for it. All the money, the flashiest homes cannot help us in this situation, so spend your money wisely on your child's future. Find something they are interested in and go with it, even if it is not what you envisage for them.

My thanks go to my parents, extended family who have been there and always will be there, with understanding, encouragement and love. My SPELD teacher and her husband, that made me feel like a part of their family, and who still take an active part in my life. To the young teacher, who found me and then to my teachers at Parkway College. Thank you all. To the Polytechnic tutors, who got me hooked. For Youth Skills for enabling me to grab with open arms this wonderful opportunity.

I have grown from someone, so shy to look ant anyone, to become someone ready to take on the WORLD.

Please for all of you who read this please, use my story to help those who are unable too. Life is worth everything.