The word “dyslexia” was first coined in 1887 by a German physicist who described the condition as a “very great difficulty in interpreting written or printed symbols,” but the term “learning disabilities” didn’t come around in the U.S. until 1963.
- About 15% of the United States population has a language-based learning disability
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which saw its start in 1969, now provides students with learning disabilities the assistance they need to excel in school alongside their peers.
I’ve heard it said that a writer develops in rare air.
I grew up in the east part of town a block away from the Texaco refinery. In the daylight it was an ugly collection of pipes, but at night I thought it was a castle. As a kid I never let reality get in the way so I spent many nights dreaming up stories. I also had younger twin sisters who were always willing to listen to my tales.
Unlike most writers, I didn’t read early. In fact, if it hadn’t been for my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Dickerson, I might never have been much of a reader and therefore never a writer. She spotted a learning disability and suggested I attend a reading school one summer. I rode the bus downtown every morning and walked several blocks to the school. I often stopped to play at a little park sliced in-between buildings and highways. All alone each day, my imagination took over. I don’t remember much about the reading lessons, but I can still walk in that little park and meet up with old imaginary friends.
School didn’t come easy for me. I think I’m probably the only Caprock High School Hall of Fame graduate who was in the bottom fourth of the class. I never remember a teacher telling me I was gifted; it was usually more like “pay attention.” By fifteen I was working part-time jobs after school and sleeping through class.
By the time I entered Amarillo College, I was checking groceries and paying my own way. So, I paid attention. Two years later my boyfriend, Tom was going to Texas Tech, so I applied. All I ever wanted to do was write but since I showed no sign of ever learning to spell, my mother suggested Home Economics. Two more years passed and I’m married, Tom’s in the army and I’m teaching Home Economics and Earth Science to seventh grades.
My writing goal seemed a million miles away.
But, the wind blows in Amarillo and things change. All those nights alone waiting for Tom to come home gave me time to read, really read, and take courses on writing, and begin my journey into fiction.
Now, 37 books later my editors sometimes ask, “Why don’t you move to New York where the action is?”
I always say, “No thinks, I’ll stay in the rare air of Amarillo with Tom.”
When I was a kid I never heard of dyslexia. All I wanted to be was a writer. Thanks Mrs. Dickerson for helping me make that journey.
Please visit me at Jodi Thomas.com
To two lucky winners, I will send you a copy of my newest Harmony Series
Can’t Stop Believing