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National Siblings Day

Celebrated for the past two decades on April 10, National Siblings Day provides an opportunity to show appreciation for the ones we’ve laughed with, fought with, protected, and pranked.

Along with memories, siblings share unique characteristics, whether it’s curly hair, a crooked grin, or a hereditary trait such as dyslexia. Often, the reading challenges an older sibling experiences in school ultimately benefits younger siblings identified with dyslexia or other learning disabilities.

That was the case for Massachusetts residents Jocelyn and Chris C., whose sons Quinn and Ryan were both diagnosed with dyslexia in elementary school.

“I think that was the biggest shock for me,” Jocelyn recalled. “I loved school. So hearing those words from a first-grade teacher, that your child is very far behind, was shocking and difficult. As I did more research, I found out that many children struggle with dyslexia. It’s a learning disability that you can overcome, if you’re in the right program.”

When firstborn Quinn began showing signs of reading difficulty in first grade, the reasons – and the solutions – were perplexing to his parents. Despite tutoring and extra help in school, he continued to lag behind his peers two years later.

“I wanted to help my kids, but I didn’t know how to help them,” Jocelyn explained. “As a working mom, I didn’t want them to just be tutored their entire day. The hours in school are their best hours, so whatever needed to happen, needed to happen within that school day.”

The family hired a dyslexia advocate to help navigate the educational process. In addition to undergoing a formal evaluation that confirmed Quinn’s dyslexia diagnosis, they were advised to enroll their son in a multisensory structured language program to develop the skills he lacked. The advocate referred them to a literacy specialist trained in the Wilson Reading System® (WRS), which provided the breakthrough they were looking for.

“Learning about Wilson gave me the most relief in our educational struggles,” Jocelyn said. “Once I knew of the program, I just needed to find it.”

After researching available options, the boys were enrolled in a parochial school that embedded WRS, Fundations®, and Just Words® into its curriculum.

“Finding a school that uses Wilson was a huge weight off my shoulders. That, and also knowing that there is a prescription. Here’s the ‘illness,’ follow this prescription. That was a huge relief for me,” she said.

“Their learning was seriously impacted by their disability,” said Wilson Credentialed Trainer Robin Carlo, the brothers’ WRS instructor. “Now they are holding their own academically. They both have done very well.”

Quinn, now a high school freshman, began WRS Step 1 when he entered fourth grade and continued through eighth grade. In addition to reading at grade level, he’s gained confidence and has learned how to incorporate assistive technology into his studies, his mother explained.

Fortunately, Quinn’s trials and subsequent triumphs helped make the academic experience much less frustrating for Ryan, who was identified as having dyslexia traits based on medical evaluations, and formally diagnosed by a neuropsychologist last year. Now in sixth grade, Ryan began WRS in third grade, and is continuing the instruction while keeping up with his peers and earning As and Bs in his classes.

The brothers’ experiences led the family to participate in medical studies headed by Dr. Nadine Gaab at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience.

“Dyslexia runs in families,” Jocelyn said. “That is part of the reason why we did the Gaab Lab.”