Part 1 of our series “Unlocking Dyslexia.”
“It’s frustrating that you can’t read the simplest word in the world.”
Thomas Lester grabs a book and opens to a random page. He points to a word: galloping.
“Goll—. G—. Gaa—. Gaa—. G—. ” He keeps trying. It is as if the rest of the word is in him somewhere, but he can’t sound it out.
“I don’t … I quit.” He tosses the book and it skids along the table.
Despite stumbling over the simplest words, Thomas — a fourth-grader — is a bright kid. In fact, that’s an often-misunderstood part of dyslexia: It’s not about lacking comprehension, having a low IQ or being deprived of a good education.
It’s about having a really hard time reading.
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States. It touches the lives of millions of people, including me and Thomas. Just like Thomas, I spent much of my childhood sitting in a little chair across from a reading tutor.
Today, Thomas is working with his tutor in an office building in northwest Washington, D.C. The suite they’re in is an oasis of white couches and overstuffed pillows. In the waiting area, a kid is curled up sucking her thumb, and a mom reads a magazine quietly.