Family’s Struggle Strikes Chord, Calls Flood Project Baltimore Hotline
A family’s struggle with dyslexia prompts a big response from our viewers, many of them facing similar challenges and looking for help.
When Bonnie Vermillion’s son was in third grade, he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia, a learning disability that affected his reading. But Anne Arundel County Schools never diagnosed his disability.
“It's isolating, in every sense of the word,” says Billy Vermillion.
But Billy Vermillion is one of the lucky ones. His parents weren’t going to let him fail because they’d been through this before with Billy’s father, who also struggles with dyslexia and hid it for years.
“I didn't even know until after we were married because he hid it so well,” Bonnie Vermillions recalls. “He would say, ‘I'm tired. Can you fill this out for me?’ ‘Sure, I'll fill it out for you.’ I didn't think anything of it.”
The Vermillions got their son into a specialized school that was paid for by Anne Arundel County Schools. Today, he is getting his PhD at Catholic University in Washington, DC. When we shared this family’s story, many of our viewers reached out on Facebook to offer support and congratulations.
But we also heard from parents who are still fighting for their own children in hopes they too can get much needed help.
One caller told us, “I have a son with a learning disability. He's just falling behind more and more. I'm just looking for some help, trying to figure out what can I do? Where do I go? How do I get this help?”
“These children have to work very hard and they come to us sometimes having been beaten down,” says Marcy Kolodny who runs The Dyslexia Tutoring Center in Baltimore, which helps low-income children and adults who are dyslexic learn how to read. She’s seen the impact illiteracy can have.
"We're trying to keep kids out of gangs, off of drugs, and out of jail,” says Kolodny.
The free service has nearly 200 tutors, but the longer someone waits to get help, the more severe that impact can be.
“I'd try to figure out why I could not read and I knew I wasn’t a dumb,” says another one caller who left a message on our hotline. “And I had to hide my disability because I was ashamed of it.”
The Dyslexia Tutoring Center says diagnosing dyslexia early on is the best hope, because the longer someone goes without help, the more difficult it is to remediate.