The Ones We Left Behind

Charles Schwab
Steve Jobs
Thomas Edison
Henry Ford
Alexander Grand Bell
Richard Branson
Steven Spielberg
Whoopie Goldberg
Orlando Bloom
Henry Winkler
Jay Leno
Jamie Oliver
Will Smith
Tom Cruise
Keanu Reeves
Kevin O’Leary
Leonardo Davinici
Magic Johnson
Tim Tebow
Albert Einstein
Mohammed Ali
What do all of the people on this list have in common?

You got the wrong answer if you thought it was their fame. These people all have dyslexia. A learning disability or, should I say, a gift that makes reading very difficult. It is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols but do not affect general intelligence. These people are all brilliant, but when it comes to reading, they have all struggled.

For us, the diagnosis came in the middle of third grade. It took three years to get to this point. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. But as a mom and an educator, I knew something was different. Even though his second word was “google,” in VPK, he would reverse his letters; in Kindergarten, we worked hard with little success at identifying rhyming words. By the time Covid hit, he could not master the art of reading a clock in the first grade. He would still reverse letters like “d” and “b” and words like pit and tip. The most noticeable thing was that he avoided reading as much as possible. It was frustrating, and not knowing what the issue was would lead us to punish him for what we thought was him not trying hard enough. The thought of that now makes me so regretful and sad, but that’s what parenting is. You do the best you can with what you know at that moment in time. We spent thousands of dollars on tutors and reading programs but with limited success.

It was that time again, school started, and we were back on the grind. He entered the year of reckoning (third grade is a retention year and the dreaded FSA). We were serious about getting accommodations and having services in place for him at school because even though he was getting tutoring every week, he needed to have more “protections” in place.

When I first sent the email requesting an evaluation, I was met with hesitation by the ESE Director, who asked if I was ok with him being labeled. I was slightly annoyed with the question, but the truth is that so many parents struggle with the thought of having their child “labeled.” This thought keeps them from accepting a diagnosis that would otherwise provide their child with an IEP or individual education plan. For me, there was no hesitation. My reaction is, “if the label will offer him the services and protection that will help him become the best version of himself then label him.” Honestly, if it weren’t for our IEP Advocate, Krista Barth, advising and pushing the process along, we may have missed the opportunity for a better education. 

My mother always told me that “only a fool goes to court without representation,” and she proved correct. Krista’s presence throughout the IEP process ensured that our voices were heard and that our son received suitable accommodations and services to fit our needs. Even the ESE Director thanked us for having her there to offer solutions. Some of them we never even thought possible. 

With the right solutions, dyslexia can be a gift. Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson has stated that he only highers dyslexic Architects because of their ability to see drawings in 3D.

Dyslexic individuals often excel in the fields of:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Arts & More 

Did you know that 1 out of every 2 NASA scientists is dyslexic or that 40% of all self-made millionaires have dyslexia? In fact, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calls dyslexia the MIT disease because so many of its students have dyslexia.

As any loving mother would, I have spent countless hours watching TED talks, reading books, researching, and strategizing how best to help my baby recognize the gift in his difference.

But I still wonder, and tears come to my eyes. What about the ones we left behind? The students with no one to Advocate for them? No one guides their parents in recognizing and accepting their learning differences. What does their future hold?

Statistics show that 50% of all adolescents involved in drug or alcohol rehabilitation have dyslexia or 70% of all juvenile delinquents have dyslexia, with only 15% of the population diagnosed as dyslexic. If left untreated, dyslexia may lead to low self-esteem, behavior problems, anxiety, aggression, and withdrawal from friends, parents, and teachers.

These facts are scary but not finite. Recognizing dyslexia at an early age is the key to ensuring a life of success. People with dyslexia are usually more creative and have a higher level of intelligence. If you notice any of the symptoms associated with dyslexia, discuss them with your child’s doctor, teacher, or childcare provider. You can also request an evaluation in writing from your child’s school. If needed, consult an educational or IEP Advocate who can help you request the appropriate testing and services.

Our journey has just begun, but in case you’re wondering how it’s going, our son started getting his accommodations and extra one-on-one phonics and reading sessions in school in February, along with weekly private tutoring. Everyone expected him to fail the FSA, but not only did he pass the test, but he passed by almost 100 points and passed the backup exam. He is proof that when hard work meets preparation, miracles happen. By admitting an issue and taking the necessary steps to address it, the future is so much brighter.

For more information got to: http:///dyslexia/signs-of-dyslexia/

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Diana Baptiste
Diana Lee is the owner of Brightway, The Mavic Agency, and a recognized name in the Broward business and philanthropic communities. Lee opened The Mavic Agency in 2022 and runs the day-to-day operations with her husband Robin. She attributes their early success to accessible customer service, sales savvy, and personal knowledge of what is most important to Broward residents. As a franchisee with one of the nation’s foremost insurance companies and licensed Property and Casualty Insurance Agent, Lee represents established carriers including Progressive, Nationwide, Edison, and Florida Peninsula. In addition to insurance operations, she has direct experience in real estate and property management as well as healthcare administration, affording her unique insight into the varied insurance needs of South Floridians. Lee comes from a family of caregivers and entrepreneurs established as leaders in the assisted living field in both Florida and Jamaica. A founding contributor for the Broward Mom Collective, a local resource for families, and a volunteer who sits on several Broward County Public School Advisory Boards, Lee is always looking for ways to make lasting impacts that help her family, friends, and neighbors. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in health administration from the University of Phoenix. Brightway, The Mavic Agency, offers customized home, flood, auto, boat, condominium, renters, personal articles, RV, motorcycle, umbrella, and life insurance policies through several nationwide carriers. Visit or call 756-946-5040 for more information. The Mavic Agency serves Weston, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hollywood, and Sunrise.


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