As a nine-year-old, Tom Mullally had a 'superior' IQ, but could never understand why he still couldn't read or write.
He watched on as his classmates moved on to the next year level while he was left to repeat and spend years in remediation and special education. At the age of 7 he was told by his teacher that he would never amount to anything.
Tom is now 25 and runs his own social media business in Sydney, but he will be a guest speaker at a free dyslexia seminar in Cowra on June 20.
Ten to 15 per cent of Australians have dyslexia, a disorder that involves difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters and other symbols and has become the sleeping giant of learning difficulties.
Tom said seeing his peers move on destroyed his confidence to the point that he labelled himself 'dumb and stupid' and would purposely use avoidance to sit out of classroom activities.
"I was a functionally illiterate nine-year-old; I couldn't read or write my own name,” he said. "I struggled with reading, comprehension, spelling and getting my ideas onto paper, and for a while I spent a long time in remediation and special ed classes.
"It affected my confidence; I had withdrawn and didn't want to participate in activities at school, because I didn't want my weaknesses to be shown to the classroom.”
"I knew something was going on, but I just wrote myself as dumb and stupid because I was struggling to do the reading other kids found easy.”
Marianne, Tom’s mother, took him to undergo tests and assessments that showed he had a superior IQ, but still didn't quite understand what was happening. So she travelled to and from America, where she studied dyslexia for three years. Within five days of Marianne returning to Australia, Tom said he was finally able read and comprehend.
Marianne now educates and empowers parents across Australia who have children struggling and teaches the techniques she has built on for the last 15 years of working with more than 400 Dyslexic adults and children.
This seminar shortcuts the journey to understand what is really happening for these creative thinkers. This mother and son team have firsthand experience of the education struggle and will now cut through the jargon and confusion around the learning difficulty.
"Her teaching changed my life, I was school captain in Year 12 where I graduated with dux in two subjects, and went on to do a double degree at university in Sydney,” Tom said.
“These kids are not lazy, dumb, stupid or naughty. They are smart articulate learners. They just have to be taught the way they learn.”
The free Dyslexia Seminar will be held on Wednesday, June 20 from 1pm at the Cowra Services Club.