A Journey of Love By Judy Jenkins

     Imagine that every time you pick up a newspaper or turn the page in a book, you face words that resemble a foreign language. You know it is your native language but you cannot navigate easily through the words. There is tremendous difficulty breaking words down into sounds which create struggles with correctly pronouncing words and forming meaning. This typifies all the common experiences of a dyslexic child when faced with text. This my daughter, Claire’s story.

      Claire has always been full of life. The meaning of Claire’s name is “bright” or “clear” which fits her so well even from the very first moment she was born. The life Claire expounds from her heart and soul is something I fall in love with every day. Claire truly amazes me. She should be the poster child for “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” since time and time again, Claire makes the sweetest lemonade despite the lemons she’s been tossed.

     From a very early age, Claire loved books. Pictures helped her create the story in her mind before the words. Then when the words came she loved cuddling up and listening. Bedtime rituals included bath time and a favorite book. As I read Goodnight Moon, “In the great green room, There was a telephone, And a red balloon, And a picture of —” Claire would be so content.

     Claire absolutely loved stories and I tried to foster that love of books. The imagination of a child is something I yearn for and Claire’s was so vivid. Perhaps it was her imagination that actually functioned early on to keep her somewhat insulated from the realities she would later confront. One afternoon as Claire was trying to read, with tears running down her cheeks, she screamed out “My brain feels like it is on fire.” I knew then that something was just not right and suspected that my little Claire-Bear was dyslexic.

     Dyslexia is a word I had read about from time to time. But never did I think I would have firsthand experience with it through one of my daughters – experiences that would force me to come to a complete halt and upend my expectations of her life’s path. Those D words – death and dyslexia – are marked with similar stages leading to acceptance. Days and nights filled with denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. The journey for us has not been an easy one.

     Formal testing confirmed what I already believed would be the diagnosis dyslexia with ADHD. And the search for finding the best for Claire began. I really didn’t have any idea how I was going to travel down this road or where it would lead, but I did absolutely know I had to start.

     After doing lots of research, talking to different tutors, and learning about various reading programs, decisions were made for Claire. Mid-way through the 2nd grade, Claire started working with a tutor named Bonnie who literally started at the beginning with teaching Claire “the code.” Just as a baby starts to make sounds and innately learns that the sounds go in a certain pattern to form the words, Claire had to start there. A dyslexic child must learn how the letters link to sounds which form the words. Nothing is automatic for a dyslexic child. All the reading components were part of Claire’s program including phonological processing skills, decoding skills, word attack strategies, comprehension strategies, etc. Many of these reading components come rather naturally to a lot of kids but never to Claire. The success Claire has experienced was possible because of two primary factors: an incredibly patient tutor and an incredibly determined student. Fortunately, Claire possessed the essential ingredient leading to her success.

     My little Claire-Bear has been my inspiration. When life gets tough, I look at her and remember one of the books she loved as a young girl and still one of her favorites today The Little Engine That Could. Claire has shown me that struggles can be turned into challenges if we utter “I think I can, I think I can.” I adore my daughter for showing me that type of drive.

     It is incredible what a dyslexic child can teach us if we are open to it. Claire appreciates everything. Perhaps the appreciation comes from the incredible struggles. I love that about Claire. My Claire-Bear is embarking on her last semester of college, majoring in Elementary Education, and planning to teach the little ones entrusted to her care. Years ago, I was not certain about how Claire’s dyslexia journey would unfold. Today I proudly FLAUNT all my Claire-Bear has achieved and everything that awaits her in the future!


14 Responses to “A Journey of Love By Judy Jenkins”

  1. Carmela L. PellicciFebruary 6, 2021 at 11:32 am #

    Congratulations Claire on your accomplishments and wishing you much success. This is such a beautiful and personal story especially if you know someone who has dyslexia. Shout out to the teachers who are patient and kind and provide the tools to help their students overcome any obstacles. Thanks Judy Whelan Jenkins ❤️

  2. Margie KilnerFebruary 2, 2021 at 1:25 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this beautiful story of your amazing Claire! I am sure that you were an equal part of her success with your love and attention. Congrats to Claire!

  3. MauraFebruary 1, 2021 at 10:13 pm #

    Thank you for sharing!!! What a fantastic and inspirational story. You go Claire!! Those kiddos are so very lucky to have you as their teacher. Hugs!

  4. Marianne MooreJanuary 31, 2021 at 5:44 pm #

    Judy, what a journey it has been for you and Claire! You captured it so well, but It really was a tripod that brought Claire to this last semester.. Yes, Claire had a great tutor is determined but the third leg is YOU. Through the years you did what ever was needed to make sure Claire was successful and to be a confident young woman. Congratulations to you both. Claire will be a patient, creative and caring educator.

  5. TracyJanuary 31, 2021 at 2:48 pm #

    Claire’s own experience with learning to read will make her an outstanding teacher. Your early intervention, Judy, shows how important the early childhood years are. I look forward to hearing about Claire’s future successes as a teacher.

  6. Chris CalabroJanuary 31, 2021 at 1:13 pm #

    Wonderful story, Judy! Beautifully written! For those of us who have taught and loved those with dyslexia, know of the interior struggle they face each day! Thanks for sharing and congrats to Claire!

  7. Meg FlanaganJanuary 31, 2021 at 1:11 pm #

    Judy, I believe there was a plan afoot for you to be Claire’s Mom. Claire, you have a wonderful spirit which will give you great success as a teacher. Lucky students!

  8. Beth CygnarowiczJanuary 31, 2021 at 1:06 pm #

    An amazing tutor, determined student AND the BEST Mom!!! Congratulations to Claire….she will be a skilled and compassionate teacher , in part due to her journey.

  9. Liz CastilloJanuary 31, 2021 at 12:02 pm #

    Beautifully written, Judy! My eyes are spilling over with love and admiration for both of you. Claire, keep moving those mountains with that fabulous spunk and spirit of yours. A mother and daughter duo bound together with love, strength, and resiliency are unstoppable in the face of hardship!

  10. Anna AkinsJanuary 31, 2021 at 11:33 am #

    Wow! I am just overwhelmed by this beautiful story of inspiration and strength. I am so happy for both of you. The children who are fortunate enough to have her for a teacher are beyond blessed.❤️

  11. AnnJanuary 31, 2021 at 11:17 am #

    Wow..what great love and dedication on all levels.

  12. Ana Milena OlacireguiJanuary 31, 2021 at 11:09 am #

    An amazing and loving mom paired with a determined, hard working, courageous, beautiful, and loving daughter!Congratulations to your Claire and to mom! Thanks so much for sharing your story which gives hope and inspiration to parents with children that will eventually shine in their own time! Wishing you all the best Judy! And for Claire! The future students of Claire are going to love her and will feel very lucky to have her as their teacher. Just like my kids adored Judy!

  13. GraceJanuary 31, 2021 at 11:06 am #

    What an inspiration! Congratulations to Claire on this fabulous accomplishment! And congratulations Mom…God knew what He was doing when He sent you this beautiful gift.

  14. Grace TurcotteJanuary 31, 2021 at 11:04 am #

    What an inspiration! Congratulations to Claire on this fabulous accomplishment! And congratulations Mom…God knew what He was doing when He sent you this beautiful gift.

Leave a Reply