Words of wis­dom

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

As a nine-year-old, Tom Mul­lally had a ‘su­pe­rior’ IQ, but could never un­der­stand why he still could not 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 seven he was told by his teacher that he would never amount to any­thing.

Fast-for­ward to 2018 and Tom, 25, is a con­fi­dent pub­lic speaker who openly dis­cusses his own strug­gles with dys­lexia to help par­ents bet­ter un­der­stand what their child is go­ing through if they strug­gle to read or write.

Tomorrow night at 7 pm, Tom will speak at a free sem­i­nar at Co­bram Ba­rooga Golf Club. Par­ents of chil­dren strug­gling with read­ing and writ­ing are en­cour­aged to at­tend the ses­sion.

Tom said con­stantly be­ing told he had no great fu­ture made him feel in­ad­e­quate and 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,’’ Tom said.

‘‘I strug­gled with read­ing, com­pre­hen­sion, spell­ing and get­ting my ideas on to 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 off as dumb and stupid be­cause I was strug­gling to do the read­ing other kids found easy.’’

Tom’s mum Mar­i­anne took him to un­dergo tests and as­sess­ments that showed he had a su­pe­rior IQ, but still didn’t un­der­stand what was hap­pen­ing.

So she trav­elled to and from the US, 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 with the disor­der and teaches the tech­niques she has built on for the past 15 years of work­ing with more than 400 dyslexic adults and chil­dren.

The sem­i­nar fol­lows the jour­ney to un­der­stand what is re­ally hap­pen­ing for these creative thinkers.

This mother-and-son team has first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the ed­u­ca­tion strug­gle and will cut through the jar­gon and con­fu­sion around the learn­ing dif­fi­culty.

‘‘Her teach­ing changed my life,’’ Tom said of his mother.

‘‘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 now runs his own so­cial me­dia busi­ness in Syd­ney.

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.

If you are in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing the free sem­i­nar, it is not too late to reg­is­ter. You can book at www.dys­lexia.com.au/reg­is­ter or phone (02) 9436 3766.

Help is at hand: Tom Mul­lally speak­ing at a dys­lexia sem­i­nar in War­rnam­bool.

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