Like many of her peers, Tegan C. will soon be flipping through college brochures and searching websites to determine where she’ll enroll after graduating from high school. What makes her college search remarkable is that the goal of earning an academic degree once seemed unattainable.
The 15-year-old sophomore struggled with reading and writing throughout elementary school and into middle school before being diagnosed with dyslexia. Following intensive training with tutors using the Wilson Reading System® (WRS), she is an honors student at Babylon High School on Long Island, NY, and is looking forward to earning a bachelor’s degree in the future.
“When I started WRS, it was eye-opening that there was something out there that could help me,” said Tegan, who completed the 12th and final step of the program in early December. At first, the lessons were challenging, she said. But as she worked through the steps, she realized she was developing the decoding and encoding skills she needed to become a fluent reader and proficient speller.
“I’ve caught up to everyone and my grades are good,” said Tegan, who also enjoys the arts.
Tegan’s mother, Colleen, and father, Ernest, acknowledge that while their daughter’s path to literacy proficiency has not been easy, the journey was definitely worthwhile.
“We would tell Tegan, if you work hard, you will become successful. One day, one week, one month, one year – each step we have watched our daughter work hard. Through WRS and all of her support throughout the years, she is now a successful reader. We have learned so much from Tegan and we are so truly proud of her,” Colleen said.
“Tegan has personally gained confidence in believing in herself, and knows that if she perseveres, she is capable of learning things she didn’t think she could learn,” said Colleen. “She realized she didn’t have to guess at reading and spelling words anymore. Once she applied strategies for reading and spelling in syllables, most words could be tackled. Even when reading a novel for enjoyment, Tegan saw she could use her tools to figure out words she had never come across before.”
Colleen, who has a background in education, tapped into dyslexia resources, friends, and former colleagues to learn how a confirmed diagnosis of dyslexia and Wilson’s systematic, multisensory program could help her daughter succeed in school. Now, other parents turn to her for guidance.
“I tell them, ‘It may be bad right now, but there is hope. As soon as they get what they need, they fly.’”
Now that she’s succeeding academically, Tegan is also helping to raise awareness about learning differences by participating in Dyslexiaville, an online community created by award-winning filmmaker Peggy Stern.
After seeing an announcement on the Learning Ally website about Dyslexiaville’s YouTube program, the Super d! Show, Colleen encouraged her daughter to audition. Tegan was selected, and although she had to assume the uncharacteristic role of a bully in one of the segments, she has enjoyed the experience of working with a cast and crew comprised of children and adults with dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
“I wanted to do this because I don’t want other students to struggle as much as I did,” Tegan said.
Pictured above: High School sophomore Tegan C., center, who overcame her reading disability to become an honors student, with Barbara Christensen, one of her Wilson Reading System tutors, and Lisa Consola, Special Education chair at Babylon High School in New York.