Much of what Schultz describes will be heartbreaking to the parents and grandparents of children struggling to keep up with their peers in the classroom. Learning disabilities are difficult to cope with – as parents and grandparents of children who suffer from them, we already know that. What most of us probably fail to understand fully is the emotional pain our children are suffering as they deal with the social stigma of being different from the majority of their friends and classmates. Tragically, as Schultz stresses, these emotional scars are likely to last a lifetime.
Schultz, poet that he is, has a beautiful way with words that allows him to describe in vivid images what he has gone through, how he very suddenly learned to read at age eleven, and how he must compensate for his poor reading skills even today. Consider, for instance, his description of what reading is like for him now:
As I read, a kind of subtle bartering between uncertainty and hunger for knowledge goes on in my mind, in which I must conquer a feeling of hopelessness and anxiety. I’ve learned to read the way a runner learns to expect and find his second and third winds, the way an athlete pushes himself beyond where it is comfortable to go. I read word by word, sometimes congratulating myself on the completion of a sentence, each paragraph and chapter,
Or this description of what it was like for him in the classroom:
I understood that I was different from other kids. I lived in a world of differences measured not by appearances, wealth, or even intelligence. The world I lived in involved struggle for control over my thoughts and actions. My differentness felt freakish. My brain wouldn’t obey me, nor my parents or my teachers. If I had trouble learning to read a clock, know my left from my right, hearing instructions – things everyone else seem to do easily – how could I trust my own thoughts or anything about myself?
The good news is that there is hope for them – and Philip Schultz proves it.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)