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WYNN Changes Life for Severe Dyslexic

You WYNN Changes Life for Severe Dyslexic

Many people can relate to being a good father, and many understand the difficulty of trying to be a role model in a challenging society. But how many people can understand how to juggle fatherhood, work, school, and the diagnosis of severe learning disabilities?

Kelly Weetman is a 40 year old man who is thankful for many things. He is proud of his family, he is on his way to fulfilling his career aspirations, and he has conquered a fear he has been hiding for over 25 years - he is severely learning disabled. Only recently has Kelly been able to compose his thoughts, communicate his fears, and tackle a disability that has been holding him back for almost three decades. Last year, Kelly was introduced to WYNN, a software program from Freedom Scientific designed to aid individuals with reading challenges and writing difficulties.

LD Identified in Third Grade

Kelly was first identified as having a learning disability in the third grade. He was told he was dyslexic and hyperactive. "At nine years old, I wasn't sure what that meant. What they told me back then is a lot different than what they are saying now about dyslexia and hyperactivity." After suffering a severe brain trauma in school from an accident in a physical education class, Kelly began to notice he was having difficulty in school; however, he could not recall whether his informal diagnosis and accident were directly related. "I am starting to remember what happened around this time and am able to write it now into WYNN. My mom is the only one who knows what exactly happened; but she has passed on, so it's difficult to really know."

School Behavioral Issues Surface

Soon after the accident, Kelly was pulled out of public schools. He found himself "bouncing around to many different schools." Kelly began exhibiting behavioral problems as classmates started to make fun of him because of his difficulty in reading and writing. Administrators felt it was best to keep Kelly medicated, to keep him calm so as not to affect the work of the other students. His education continued to be compromised.

Cycle of Failure Begins

As the elementary years passed, Kelly found it harder and harder to take an interest in school. He returned to public school where he spent his freshman year in a mainstream classroom. After this rigorous year, Kelly was again enrolled in a special education program at his high school. To avoid any possible confrontations with friends or other students, Kelly decided to hide the fact that he was disabled. "I would come to class late so none of my friends would see me going to a 'special' class. And then I would sneak out before class ended so no one would see me leaving the class." Eventually this failure-induced behavior became tiresome. Kelly's absences were putting him behind in his schoolwork and preventing him from keeping up. In the beginning of his senior year, Kelly dropped out of high school.

The United States Army provided an alternate route for Kelly to avoid his disability. As with many individuals with learning disabilities, he found creative ways to avoid paperwork, had friends help him with necessary reports, and transferred to units where he essentially wouldn't have to complete any paperwork. The Army enrolled Kelly in a GED course in Texas. That lasted 3 weeks - he failed the course.

Out of the Army, Kelly looked for jobs that wouldn't disgrace him and reveal the fact that he was learning disabled. He found jobs in construction and retail stores for many years. As Kelly was promoted through the years, he found it harder and harder to hide the fact that he had difficulty reading and using computers. "One of my supervisors started seeing the problems I'd been trying to hide. Shortly after, I was terminated."

Alternate Opportunities

Kelly's wife began taking classes in adult literacy at Penn State. Knowing the difficulty her husband had with reading and writing, she suggested he look into an alternative way to get his GED. "My wife introduced me to a counselor at Penn State who worked in the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). After several evaluations, they confirmed that I had about five multiple disabilities. Their approach to me was, 'What accommodations can we make to help you get your GED?' It was amazing!"

Success - At Last

An Assistive Technology Engineer sat with Kelly and offered to work with him on a software program that was designed to assist with several of his disabilities. He had Kelly choose between two similar yet very different software tools. Kelly found immediate success with the ease-of-use of WYNN. "The other product had a spell predictor that overlapped my reading materials, so I found it very hard to work around it. It had windows that opened on top of windows, and I found it difficult to get back to where I started. I really liked how straightforward WYNN was, and how I was able to tailor the program to my individual reading and writing level." Kelly continued, "At one point, after using the program for just 7 hours, I began to cry. Suddenly, I realized that the handicap I have been hiding for over 25 years is now under my control and command. I cannot thank WYNN enough."

After almost three decades of hiding his disability, Kelly can now write about the challenges he has faced. He can write an e-mail without fear of humiliation. He tells us that he completed his GED. And smilingly, Kelly tells us that he achieved the second highest score in his county, despite doubts that he wouldn't ever receive his high school diploma.

Kelly is continuing his work with Penn State to fulfill his aspirations. "I recently completed a proposal on WYNN for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. It's for a grant to allow me to go to a school to learn Home Inspections. WYNN has given me the opportunity to do things I never thought I'd be able to do. I would think to myself - how can I be a role model to my children and teach them perseverance if I don't show it in what I do - WYNN gave me the tools to finally do this."

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