Stop Monkeying Around: Primate Social Behavior

Amazonian Primate (Photo credit: UT Austin - Environmental Science Institute.)

Amazonian Primate (Photo credit: UT Austin – Environmental Science Institute.)

Science is my favorite subject, and this spring in my high school freshman biology class, I’ve been learning about plants, the diversity of animals, evolution, and more.

We learned about the common characteristics that all primates share: fingers and toes with nails, not claws; arms that rotate around a shoulder joint; binocular vision; and a well-developed cerebrum, which is helpful for complex thinking.

We’re now studying the different systems of the human body, including the nervous and skeletal systems. (We have 206 bones in our adult human skeleton!)

Primate evolution and the evolution of senses

When I was a young naturalist (younger than I am now), I had the chance to interview Dr. Chris Kirk before his “Your Eye, My Eye, and the Eye of the Aye-Aye” presentation. Dr. Kirk is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, and his talk was part of the Hot Science – Cool Talks series, presented by the UT Austin Environmental Science Institute.

Primate social behavior

There are more awesome anthropological presentations in store with Hot Science – Cool Talks! You can learn more about primate social behavior with Dr. Anthony Di Fiore during his presentation this Friday, April 4, 2014. A Professor of Biological Anthropology and the Chair of the UT Austin Department of Anthropology, Dr. Di Fiore will talk about the monkeys that he’s studying in the Amazonian Ecuador and how their native ecosystem helps to shape their behavior and society.

His presentation starts at 7:00 pm in Welch Hall on the UT Austin campus, but be sure to arrive early, because the pre-lecture fair, full of fun kids activities and learning, starts at 5:45 pm.

It’s the last Hot Science event of the spring 2014 semester, so don’t monkey around and miss out on this Cool Talk!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Anthony Di Fiore, Department of Anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Chris Kirk, Environmental Science Institute, ESI, Hot Science - Cool Talks, My Eye Your Eye and the Eye of the Aye-Aye, Primate social behavior

Invasive Hunters and Surprises at the Texas Invasive Species Conference

Commander Ben thanks the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council for his Outstanding Citizen Scientist award

Commander Ben thanks the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council for his Outstanding Citizen Scientist award

I had such a great time at the 2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council (TIPPC) conference that was held last month at the UT Austin Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. I gave my invasive species presentation in the institute’s auditorium, talked with lots of scientists, and received such a great surprise!

Adventures with invasive species presentation

Commander Ben prepares for his invasive species presentation for scientists at the Texas conference

Commander Ben prepares for his invasive species presentation for scientists at the Texas conference

My presentation at this year’s conference was entitled, “Adventures with Invasive Species and the Invasive Hunter Academy”. I talked about how I use social media and my many science videos to educate kids about invasive species. With each of my Battles with Invasive Species videos, I created a character and focused on a specific invasive species that kids could learn from and remember.

For example, you’ve heard of grumpy cat. Here’s my grumpy scientist character who starred in two of my invasive species videos:

Adventures with Invasive Species presentation slide showing my grumpy scientist character's wide range of emotions

Adventures with Invasive Species presentation slide showing my grumpy scientist character’s wide range of emotions

Looking for a fun activity for in-person events led me to create the Invasive Hunter Academy, which I described in my presentation. Since I’m dyslexic, I talked about how I wanted to create a multi-sensory approach to helping kids learn through visual matching, physical activities, and creative crafts. I shared my many successes taking the academy to the US Botanic Gardens in Washington D.C. and to many nature events across Texas.

Graduates from the academy have fun, create an action diorama they can bring home, and become official Invasive Hunters!

I fielded many great questions from the audience, including how my videos can be used in school science classrooms. (Please feel free to use them to help kids learn more about invasive species!) I also received a warm invitation from Dr. Linda Brown, Natural Resource Program Manager with the Texas Military Department, to bring my academy to Camp Mabry!

Scientists gathered from across Texas and the nation

There were many great talks from scientists who are helping to research and control invasive species in Texas. Here are just a few of the presentations from some of the scientists that I had a chance to talk with at the 2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference and at the 2011 conference.

Adding species to Texas’s Noxious and Invasive Plant List

Dr. Damon Waitt and Commander Ben catch a moment together at the Invasive Plant and Pest Conference

Dr. Damon Waitt and Commander Ben catch a moment together at the Invasive Plant and Pest Conference

At this year’s conference, Dr. Damon Waitt led the Leadership and Coordination sessions and he gave a presentation on The Texas Invasive Plant Inventory and Efforts to Add Plant Species to TDA’s Noxious and Invasive Plant List.

Dr. Waitt is the Senior Director and Botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, and he talked about the successes and challenges for listing invasive species for inclusion on the State of Texas’ Noxious and Invasive Plants list.

Dr. Waitt talked about two invasive plant species that were added to the state’s list:

Dr. Waitt has been a great mentor to me as I’ve learned about invasive species. Here are a few of my blog posts with Dr. Waitt:

Update on invasive species in Texas

Commander Ben and Dr. Earl W Chilton II at the Texas Invasive Species Conference

Commander Ben and Dr. Earl W Chilton II at the Texas Invasive Species Conference

As with the 2011 conference, Dr. Earl W. Chilton gave a wonderful status update on invasive species in Texas with a special focus on aquatic invasives, including the Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha). Dr. Chilton is the Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Program Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Around Central Texas, Dr. Chilton talked about Austin’s successful efforts to bring Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) under control in Lake Austin. He also talked about how scientists found Salt cedar (Tamarix ramosissima) near Lake Travis. Unfortunately, fire ants are attacking the larva of the leaf beetles that have been helping to control the spread of Salt cedar across Texas.

At the last conference when I was just a budding invasive hunter, Dr. Chilton talked with me about Reeling in the Top Aquatic Invasive Species in Texas.

Institute for the Study of Invasive Species

Dr. Jerry Cook and Commander Ben near invasive species posters

Dr. Jerry Cook and Commander Ben near invasive species posters

Dr. Jerry Cook is the Associate Vice President for Research at Sam Houston State University. He served as the program chair for this year’s conference, and he talked about the university’s Institute for the Study of Invasive Species (ISIS). He was also part of two presentations at the conference:

I was happy to catch up with Dr. Cook at this year’s conference. I had a chance to create a video interview with him at the 2011 conference to talk about his New Institute for the Study of Invasive Species: Early Detection, Rapid Response.

Coordinating invasive species across Texas

Commander Ben and Mr. Justin Bush show off their Invasive Hunter moves

Commander Ben and Mr. Justin Bush show off their Invasive Hunter moves

During the conference and at the evening dinner, I had a great time talking with Mr. Justin Bush, Invasive Species Coordinator for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. He has a background working on controlling aquatic and terrestrial invasive species and on habitat restoration projects.

With the Wildflower Center, he works on invasive species projects in Texas and on many parts of the Texas Invasives website, including reviewing pictures and sightings of invasive species uploaded by citizen scientists in their Invasives database.

Mr. Bush helped organize the many workshops for this year’s conference. He was very kind and encouraging, and I’m excited to work with Mr. Bush and the Wildflower Center in the future.

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More invasive species presentations

Commander Ben and Dr. Ronald Billings during a break at the invasive species conference

Commander Ben and Dr. Ronald Billings during a break at the invasive species conference

Since I could only attend one day of the conference (since I didn’t want to miss my high school biology class!), I didn’t get a chance to talk with all of the scientists. Here are just a few of the presenters and session chairs with links to videos where I had a chance to interview them during the last 2011 conference.

There were so many great presentations and sessions at the conference that I can’t list them all. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful conference, including everyone I’ve already mentioned, plus Jim Houser, Alex Mathes, Scott Walker, Trey Wyatt, Mike Murphrey, Autumn Smith-Herron, and Sara Pelleteri.

Outstanding Citizen Scientist of the Year

Commander Ben receives the 2014 Outstanding Citizen Scientist of the Year award

Commander Ben receives the 2014 Outstanding Citizen Scientist of the Year award

I received such a wonderful surprise at Thursday night’s conference dinner! In addition to receiving a presentation award, the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council presented me with the 2014 Outstanding Citizen Scientist of the Year award!

Wow! I was so honored to receive this award and for all the kind words. It was so heartwarming to hear from a scientist that I was “one of the team!”

Thanks, TIPPC, for the award! I’m so happy that my work to help educate kids about invasive species has had an impact, and I’ll continue to train more invasive hunters to help protect and treasure our native ecosystems.

Invasive Hunter Academy: Spring events

Speaking of the Invasive Hunter Academy, I’m excited to announce that there will be lots of chances for you be part of the academy this spring:

These events are a great chance for kids of all ages to learn about invasive species, have fun with nature, and learn about Texas history. Hope to see you there!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, 2014 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Camp Mabry, Chinaberry, Citizen Scientist, Damon Waitt, Dr. Stephen Clarke, Earl Chilton, Hydrilla, Institute for the Study of Invasive Species (ISIS), Invasive Hunter, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species, Invasive Species Award, iWire Texas Invasives Newsletter, Japanese Climbing Fern, Jerry Cook, Justin Bush, Karen Clary, Luci Cook-Hildreth, Marine Science Institute, Milam County Nature Festival, Ronald Billings, Saltcedar, Sam Houston State University, Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council, Texas Invasives, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, University of Texas, Zebra Mussel

Invasive Species Are on the Run at the 2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference

Commander Ben searches his Sherlock mind palace for ways to defeat invasive species

Commander Ben searches his Sherlock Mind Palace for ways to defeat invasive species

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be presenting at the 2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference this month!

I’ll be talking about “Adventures with Invasive Species and the Invasive Hunter Academy” in the auditorium at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas, on February 27, 2014.

If you’re a scientist, citizen scientist, Texas naturalist, or Taekwondo-wearing invasive hunter, this is a conference that you won’t want to miss! The conference is a great opportunity to learn about invasive plants, insects, and other pests across Texas.

2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest conference

Commander Ben rallies scientists at the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference

I was privileged to attend and present at the last Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference that was held at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center from November 8-10, 2011. I had started creating my Battles with Invasive Species video series earlier that year and receiving great feedback from kids and scientists across the country.

My presentation was entitled, “Origin of an invasive hunter: Educating kids of all ages about invasives”. Apple’s Siri had just come out, and I used the then new iPhone 4s to invite my invasive species loving nemesis, Baron Neb, to lunch with me at the conference. (He was too scared to attend.)

I had a great time at the conference. Many scientists were very friendly and generous with their time to create videos with me and talk about their work with invasive species.

Here are some previous posts about the 2011 conference:

2014 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest conference

Since my 2011 talk, I’ve learned more about invasive species and created the Invasive Hunter Academy. (Also started high school in the fall of 2013!) With the Academy, I’ve been able to bring fun activities to help educate kids about invasive species at in-person events in Texas and across the country.

Commander Ben displays his 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award in front of admiring Giant Reed invasive plants.

Commander Ben displays his 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award in front of admiring Giant Reeds

Because of my successful outreach to help budding naturalists appreciate their native ecosystems and learn about the problems of invasive species, I was honored in 2013 to be awarded the “Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer” from the National Invasive Species Council. (Terrestrial sounds cool. It means on the land, where I’ve battled many invasive species. Although I must confess straying into riparian habitats from time to time in my pursuit of the Giant Reed too.)

Unfortunately, the government had shut down just before the start of National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW), and I wasn’t able to go to Washington D.C. to attend the festivities and meet other scientists. I also missed not going back to the U.S. Botanic Gardens or the International Spy Museum. Drat! :-(

Eco-Hero Commander Ben talks about his work with invasive species at the Action for Nature awards ceremony

Eco-Hero Commander Ben talks about his work with invasive species at the Action for Nature awards ceremony

In 2013, I also was honored to receive an International Young Eco Hero award from Action for Nature. I had a great time meeting other scientists and young naturalists and talking at their annual conference at the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco, California.

For my 2014 conference presentation, I’ll talk about my experiences creating the Invasive Hunter Academy, filming Battle with Invasive Species videos, and educating kids about invasive species. As part of the Academy, kids can create an action diorama showing themselves battling an invasive plant. Which plant do they pick most often? You’ll have to come to my presentation to find out. :-)

Your friend,
Ben

P.S. Do you have a favorite (I mean worse) invasive species in Texas? If so, let me know in the comments below!

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, 2013 Outstanding Terrestrial Invasive Species Volunteer of the Year Award, 2014 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Action for Nature, Battles with Invasive Species, Eco-Hero, Invasive Hunter, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species Award, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Marine Science Institute, National Invasive Species Council, University of Texas

Calling All Young Eco-Heroes – Action for Nature Needs You

Eco-Hero Commander Ben talks about his work with invasive species at the Action for Nature awards ceremony

Eco-Hero Commander Ben talks about his work with invasive species at the Action for Nature awards ceremony

Last year, I was honored to be selected as an International Young Eco-Hero by Action for Nature.

I was invited to talk at their 11th annual awards ceremony in October at the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco, California. I gave a presentation about my work protecting our native ecosystem and educating kids of all ages about invasive species in a fun and engaging way, through my Commander Ben blog, InvasiveHunter Twitter account, YouTube channel, and Invasive Hunter Academy.

Getting ready to talk about invasive species at the Action for Nature awards ceremony

Getting ready to talk about invasive species at the Action for Nature awards ceremony

Here I am getting ready for my invasive species presentation. Two other Eco-hero winners, Malcom Barnard and Eric Bear, also talked about their work as environmental role models. I was also glad to meet 2009 Eco-Hero Kevin Huo who talked about his latest work.

Ben Shrader, Brent Plater, and Kevin Huo during the Action for Nature Awards Reception

Ben Shrader, Brent Plater, and Kevin Huo during the Action for Nature Awards Reception

Mr. Brent Plater, Executive Director of the Wild Equity Institute, gave an inspiring keynote, “From I to We: Building a just and sustainable world for people, plants, and animals that accompany us on earth.”

Adrienne Scroggie, Benjamin Shrader, and Shimon Schwarzschild

Adrienne Scroggie, Benjamin Shrader, and Shimon Schwarzschild

I met many great naturalists there including Action for Nature Founder Shimon Schwarzschild, President Beryl Kay, and board member Adrienne Scroggie. I enjoyed talking with Mr. Shimon Schwarzschild about his environmental work with birds and nature preserves and about St. Francis’ special connection with nature.

Action for Nature President Beryl Kay with Benjamin Shrader

Action for Nature President Beryl Kay with Benjamin Shrader

Thanks President Beryl Kay and the Action for Nature board for selecting me to join the distinguished ranks of the Eco-Heroes!

Become a 2014 International Young Eco-Hero

actionfornature_ecohero

Are you a young naturalist between the ages of 8-16 whose work has helped to protect our environment? If so, then don’t miss out on applying to become a 2014 Eco-Hero! Submit your application before January 31, 2014, and describe your environmental work and how you’ve helped to protect the plants, animals, and ecosystems that we all share.

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Action for Nature, Adrienne Scroggie, Beryl Kay, Eco-Hero, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species, Shimon Schwarzschild

How the Embracing Dyslexia Film Found Success with Kickstarter

The Embracing Dyslexia film found success with Kickstarter, but not right away. Director Luis Macias shared his experiences with crowd funding during my interview with him during the Texas Book Festival.

Failing the first time

When he first set out planning for his film, Mr. Macias knew about Kickstarter and crowd funding, but his first foray with a Kickstarter project met with failure.

He just had a video of himself looking at the camera explaining what his project was and what he wanted to accomplish. He raised about only $7000 out of his $24,000 goal.  Not having met his goal, his fundraising efforts failed and he would have to start all over again.

But his first project’s failure provided him with valuable experience. He discovered that it was important to have your base, people who know about you and your project. You also want to have a video to show some of the work that you’ve done.

Success the second time around

After his first project ended without funding, he reached out to the people who had initially supported his project to see if they were still interested in donating. If so, they could do so through his website, and Mr. Macias raised about $5500 that way.

That was enough to help him get started and take the first trip for his film.

When he tried his second Kickstarter project, he had Twitter and Facebook up and running, as well as people who already knew about the project. He also had some filming that he already took and he was able to put together a trailer for his project pitch.

At the end of his funding period, he raised $13,600.  $1,600 over his new goal of $12,000, making his Kickstarter project a success, which helped him finish his film.

Film experience

Mr. Macias loves films, and he is a video editor with many years of producing documentaries and corporate videos.

To film Embracing Dyslexia, he didn’t want to go the regular video camera route because he couldn’t get the film quality he wanted. Instead, he shot his film with two DSLRs, still cameras that also record HD video.

Mr. Macias he went out with his cinematographer, who handled the cameras. Mr. Macias handled the sound and helped with the lighting.

Video interviews with the Embracing Dyslexia film director

Watch the entire video series with Luis Macias and learn more about his film and dyslexia.

Additional posts and videos with students from the Rawson Saunders School during the Texas Book Festival:

Thanks, Mr. Macias, for creating your Embracing Dyslexia film to help educate parents, students, and educators about dyslexia.

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Dyslexia, Dyslexic, Embracing Dyslexia, Kickstarter, Luis Macias

Dyslexia insights with the Embracing Dyslexia Film Director

Sometimes, teachers and educators may recognize that their students have difficulty reading, but they don’t want to mention the D-word because they’re afraid to label kids. With his film, Embracing Dyslexia, director Luis Macias has set out to remove the stigma of dyslexia by helping to educate others about this learning difference and get kids the help they need sooner.

Mr. Macias was motivated to create the film because of his son Alejandro. Due to his learning challenges, Alejandro repeated first grade, but they didn’t find out what was causing his reading difficulties until he was in second grade when they had him tested.  At that point he was diagnosed with dyslexia.

The delay in finding out about his son’s dyslexia and the knowledge that he could have received reading therapy earlier weighed heavily on Mr. Macias. He didn’t want other parents to have to go through the same experience.

I had a chance to interview Mr. Macias about his Embracing Dyslexia movie during this year’s Texas Book Festival. You’ll find my videos with him as part of this blog post where he shares his journey and advice for parents and dyslexic students.

In my write-up below, I’ve designated my additional comments with “CB“.

The D-Word

When Alejandro’s principal and teacher were informed about his diagnosis, they were on-board to provide some accommodations, but his son’s principal didn’t want to call it dyslexia. She called it the D-word, which took Mr. Macias aback.

Why didn’t she want to use a word that would give students and parents an idea of what’s wrong?

They didn’t want to label the kids, but it’s important to know about dyslexia so kids can get help. Dyslexia wasn’t a curse. Mr. Macias was disappointed that the school knew about dyslexia, but didn’t want to talk about dyslexia with parents and students.

Mr. Macias went to see Susan Barton talk about dyslexia and that inspired him to create his film to help others learn about dyslexia, and to help educators and parents get the help their kids need.

Learning about dyslexia

When he first started working on his film, Mr. Macias didn’t know much about dyslexia, and he worried if his son would be able to continue to go to school or later to college.

He found there were a lot of myths, but he wasn’t sure if it was because people didn’t know about dyslexia or because there was misinformation.

Dyslexia affects 1 in 5

Dyslexia affects a lot of people—by many estimates 1 in 5 have reading difficulties. Mr. Macias asked, if it affects so many people, how can we ignore it?

He needed to get the information out to let dyslexic kids know that they can blossom as adults. For students who have low self esteem, he wants to tell them that they are smart, but they just learn in a different way. He wants to figure out how to get dyslexic students the tools they need so they can blossom as students and later as an adults.

Even though it will require a lot of work, Mr. Macias is confident that his son will be able to do whatever he wants in life.

Advice for parents with dyslexic children

As a first step for parents, Mr. Macias recommends that you educate yourself about dyslexia. Search for resources online, including many of the resources on his Embracing Dyslexia website.

Second, understand that dyslexia is something that is brain based. It’s not because kids are not trying hard enough or because they don’t want to do it.

It’s hard for readers, those who have not had problems with reading, to understand.

Be patient. be supportive, and find the strengths in your child. Don’t just focus on the negatives and what they are not good at. Find the talents that your child has and help to nurture them.

Next steps in the classroom

When you talk with your child’s teachers, find out if they know what dyslexia is. If not or if they only know about the myths, help them learn about dyslexia and how it affects your child. Find ways for you and they to work together. Most teachers want their students to succeed.

If you can educate your teacher, that’s a beginning for your child and the other dyslexic students in your child’s classroom.

Having to educate all your teachers in middle and high school can be hard, especially since they may not believe that dyslexia is real or they believe the myths about it.

When you’ve met one dyslexic, you’ve met one dyslexic.

Mr. Macias said that he interviewed someone who said that “when you’ve met one dyslexic, you’ve met one dyslexic.” No two dyslexic are the same. They all have their own personal struggles in different ways.

This makes it difficult because the way teachers can help one dyslexic may not be the best way to help other dyslexic students.

In addition to working with your teachers, you need to higher a tutor, specifically a tutor that knows what dyslexia is and who can teach kids in a way that will help them learn. The International Dyslexia Association can help you find tutors in your area.

CB: I’ve worked with a lot of tutors, and when you can connect with them, you can go far.

Advice for students with dyslexia

Like Mr. Macias tells his son, you’re going to have to work harder than other students to get the grades that you’re going to get, but you need to believe in yourself.

Dyslexia is not you. Dyslexia is a different way of learning, and you are still a smart student who can accomplish whatever you want. Yes, you may struggle with reading, but you will have success in other areas.

CB: On a personal note, I find that dyslexic students have to push through so much that it helps them mature faster than their peers.

Alejandro’s progress in school

Mr. Macias shared that after he and his son learned about dyslexia, his son’s attitude changed about school. One of his favorite subjects is math. He has a tutor and his reading ability is improving.

Mr. Macias said that his son uses the iPad, the iPhone, and a computer from time to time, such as for research. There are still times where his son is really struggling, but he helps is son as best he can.

My thoughts on dyslexia

CB:  On a personal note, in the beginning, I didn’t want to accept that I had dyslexia. I didn’t want any help. I thought that I would figure things out and I would be fine.

If you have dyslexia, you have to come to accept your dyslexia in your own way, and once you do, you’ll be stronger for it.

But eventually, I accepted that I had dyslexia. I found that I had to practice, work, and push through with everything that was available to me—my own strengths, available technologies, and accommodations for my learning style.

I encouraged other dyslexics in my school to look for help and go to our school’s learning center where they can get assistance and tutoring.

Math is a hard subject for me since I have dyscalculia and dysgraphia in addition to dyslexia, but as I work more with math problems, I’m able to understand the concepts easier.

Some dyslexic students can read relatively well after reading tutoring. With my severe dyslexia, I still struggle with reading even after many years with reading therapy. The letters look 3D, as though they are jumping around. Sometimes I can see the letters, but I can’t get the word.

Back in kindergarten, I would say things like cat as “ct” because I couldn’t recognize the vowel. And don’t get me started with confusing “b” and “d”!

If you have dyslexia, you have to come to accept your dyslexia in your own way, and once you do, you’ll be stronger for it.

Additional videos from the Texas Book Festival

Here are more videos about students experiences with dyslexia that I took at this year’s Texas Book Festival.

My thanks to Ms. Mandy Tucker, Assistant Head of Lower School at Rawson Saunders for her assistance with all of the interviews.

Update: Watch the entire video series with Luis Macias and learn more about his film and dyslexia.

My high school journey

I’ve learned a lot more about myself

I’ve been so busy with my first semester in high school, that I haven’t been able to blog as much as I’ve wanted to this fall. Ninth grade has been a lot of work, but I’ve learned a lot…from science (which I love!) to algebra, world geography, and more! I’ve learned a lot more about myself too, and I’ve especially enjoyed sharing my knowledge by tutoring other students in science. (Just finished my biology final today. Yea! :-))

Thanks for sharing my journey with me.

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Dyslexia, Dyslexic, Embracing Dyslexia, Kickstarter, Luis Macias, Mandy Tucker, Rawson Saunders School, Susan Barton, Texas Book Festival

Finding Out You’re Dyslexic in the First Grade

During this year’s Texas Book Festival, I had a chance to interview students from Rawson Saunders about their experiences with dyslexia.

In my first video, Emmett shared his challenges and successes with dyslexia, and in this, my second interview in this series, Faith talks about how she found out that she was dyslexic and her strategies for finding success. I hope that you or your dyslexic students find inspiration from my interviews with Emmett and Faith.

Noticing that you’re different

Faith found success as an eighth grader at Rawson Saunders, but that hasn’t always been the case. In first grade, before she started at Rawson Saunders, she noticed that she was different from other students. They could read fluently, and she had to stop a lot and go back over the words.

She used to love to have books read to her in kindergarten, but when she started first grade, she didn’t want to pick up a book nor did she want anyone to read to her. That’s when her mom and dad had her tested, and she learned about her dyslexia.

A strategy for success

School can be a difficult time for those with learning differences, but from her first day at Rawson Saunders, Faith felt at home with other dyslexic students. She didn’t have to worry about being made fun of by teachers or students.

Each dyslexic student has different strategies for learning, and Faith finds that focusing on what needs to get done and getting the longer tasks done first helps her learn best. She also reads to her parents and has her parents read text back as a review. She likes math, and they’re covering algebra in her eighth grade math class.

Faith aspires to be a teacher and doctor. She enjoys expressing her feelings through painting and music, and she strums on her guitar to help refresh her thoughts.

Each day gets better and brings you more success

Her message to other dyslexic students is that it does get better. Don’t think that because your dyslexic, you’re not smart. Dyslexic students will need to work harder, but if they keep at it, they will find success in life.

Reassuring and inspiring words from a future Dr. Faith!

Your friend,
Ben

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Filed under Dyslexia, Dyslexic, Rawson Saunders School, Texas Book Festival