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photo of Headstrong Nation Board Chair Larry Banks


To our partners in the space,

Hello. My name is Larry Banks, I am the new Board Chair of Headstrong Nation. Some of you know me, but I'm sure that most of you have heard of Headstrong Nation. For the past 10 years this organization has sought out dyslexic leaders from all walks of life. We've given retreats to discuss the issues that face us as adult dyslexics and to determine more deeply how we can be of service to our community while attempting to deepen the commitment of adult dyslexics to dyslexia in adults. As I'm sure you're well aware, most of the organizations and groups within the dyslexic community are oriented towards children, parents, research and early childhood education. We are looking at the situation from a different vantage point. We are excited and deeply moved by the programs that are going on for our children and for the effort and the programs that are being developed in education. But we believe that is equally important to remember that dyslexic children grow up to be dyslexic adults and for us that struggle is cyclical. We go through it as children, we find ways of managing our challenges in developing our talents as adults, and then we are tossed back into it when our own children enter the educational system. We have just reached the point where most of us realize that dyslexia is genetic and if we are identified dyslexics most of our children will be as well.

As identified dyslexic adults, have we looked at our own profiles deeply, both dyslexic and psychological? Have we cleared the shame, disappointments and fear from our own nature before we begin to raise children? Are we sure that we will not unwittingly, do to our children what was done to us? Disclosure, sharing and self- examination must begin with family, community and acceptance of self. If you are over 50, the first time you stand in a room full of adult dyslexics or children with attention and learning issues, and sayI am Dyslexic”, the rush of emotions can be overwhelming, (it was for me), but it is also quite healing. If you have never had that experience your child has probably missed out on it too. Adults matter. If we want to prevent the destructive cycle from reoccurring. Adults matter, because it is adults that will reshape the world in which we live. Adults matter, because we are the nurturing ground of the future and all that will happen will come through us.

I am reaching out to every single one of you and I am asking you to join Headstrong Nation and help us to support you. In the words of Gandhi, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.” Stand for your children by standing for yourself, advocate for your children by advocating for yourself, help your children know you by knowing yourself.

We are a young organization and we have a new mission. When we say dyslexic we do not mean to be discriminatory. We are reaching out to adults with learning and attention issues that come from this unique neurological profile. All are welcome. In fact, all are needed. Your membership is important because your membership fee will sponsor our website and programs. We also invite you, your skills, knowledge and talents to participate with us and become an active member. Join together by joining with us as we develop Employment Prep programs for college, employment programs post high school, webinars, workshops, leadership retreats and mentoring. Knowing that you are not on this journey alone and that we will be with you as a community for the rest of your life.

Please join Headstrong Nation and help sponsor an organization of dyslexics for dyslexics and funded by dyslexics, and internationally known for its adult dyslexics. Donate here - https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Headstrong-Nation

Thank you,

Larry


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Headstrong Nation banner followed by Headstrong Nation membership campaign #we own it  by dyslexics for dyslexics funded by dyslexics Nov9 we need your support and help are you in? www.headstrongnation.org/membership

Headstrong Nation Membership Campaign

You may be asking yourself, what does #WeOwnIt mean, and how does this relate to my dyslexia and to Headstrong Nation? Headstrong Nation will begin a new membership campaign on November 9th. What this means for our organization and for you, is that we are ready to move forward with our revised mission, which is stated below.

Headstrong Nation is a movement dedicated to a radical new approach to dyslexia. We empower adult dyslexics to own their dyslexia, to understand it, and to develop new ways of learning and working based on their individual profiles. (June, 2015)

On November 9th, Headstrong Nation is an organization which is designed for adult dyslexics, by adult dyslexics. In other words, #WeOwnIt.

We would like you to have a voice in the evolution of Headstrong Nation, to take your seat at the table, and we need your help financially so we may begin to fulfill our mission.

What does it mean to “own” your dyslexia? To own your dyslexia means you understand your individual dyslexic profile. Each dyslexic is unique, although we typically share a common struggle with text in many forms. To own your dyslexia means you won’t let yourself be limited by text or other barriers which hold you back from success. You won’t let yourself be described solely by what you struggle with, because you are so much more than your struggles.

To own your dyslexia means you have made a fair and thorough assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. You maintain a teachable attitude and you are always working on ways to learn and work more efficiently. To own your dyslexia means you embrace the wide range of assistive technologies available to you, and you’ve begun to create a tool box of helpful apps and products which will help you on a daily basis.

You understand that to truly thrive, you must find out what works for you as an individual. You will not let yourself be merely defined by what you cannot do, but will explore what is actually possible for you. To own your dyslexia means that you understand the value of asking for help when needed. You know how to honestly self-advocate and you spread awareness about your dyslexic profile to those you feel comfortable with to help enable them to understand the varied strengths and challenges associated with it.

You desire to be part of a community of other adults who will understand you, who will lift you up, and who will embrace you on your journey.

We want you to join us at the table as a voice for positive change for the adult dyslexic, so we may explore together what is possible for us in learning, work, and life.

Please join us as a member of Headstrong Nation. We'd love it if you could tell you family and friends about us too and ask for their help! We thank you for considering our invitation, and we’d appreciate your financial support during our first official membership campaign which will enable us to more effectively address the needs of the adult dyslexic. Spread the word using the hashtag #WeOwnIt.

Become a member of Headstrong Nation! We invite you to be a voice in your future! – Join Now NOTE: 4/29/2016- Our formal membership campaign has ended, but you may donate to support our work at https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Headstrong-Nation

Thank you very much! The Headstrong Nation Team

Photo of Headstrong Nation Board and Staff

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A lovely young college student named Abby contacted us a few months ago to share her appreciation for Headstrong Nation and our work in the dyslexic community. We were interested in learning more about Abby’s experiences as a college student with Dyslexia, and our interview with her follows.

Headstrong Nation: Tell us a little about your academic life before you were identified with dyslexia.

Abby: I feel like I have always liked school; I really have. I liked learning things and being in the classroom with my friends. I always wanted to please my teacher, which I guess made things easy on my parents. I honestly wanted to do well in school because I wanted my teachers to think highly of me. I had a lot of trouble with writing, and because we were young everything was handwritten, not typed. We had to write these journal entries, and I always had such a hard time with them. I had a really hard time remembering which way the letters went, and spelling was something I was certain I would never understand. As time went by, reading became a huge problem, too. I could see the words, and I could read them fairly well, but I had a really hard time understanding what was going on in the story. It was a comprehension problem. My mom and I once read the same book, and when we finished, each of us came out with two very different stories. As school continued math got harder, reading got harder, understanding text got harder, and it seemed like everything was taking me ten times more effort than it took everyone else. Grammar was the hardest. I mean, if I could barely understand the words themselves, then how on earth was I going to understand how to place commas, use proper sentence structure, and all that other nonsense?

Headstrong Nation: After you were identified with dyslexia, was it freeing in any way to know that what you were experiencing actually had a name?

Abby: Having a disability with a name wasn't freeing to me; it wasn't much of anything. It was a lot more like, “well at least people can’t say I’m stupid.” There was always the assumption that I was dyslexic. I showed lots of the classic signs when I was kid, and it was easier to say, “I'm dyslexic” to my peers than “I have a learning disability that relates to my processing and sequencing of things.” People tended to have an idea of what being dyslexic meant rather than my long official title before identification. By the time I was officially identified, I had already come up with a huge number of coping strategies, so I can’t even say that having a name for it meant that other people knew how to help me. I always knew how to tell people what I needed for them to help me.

Headstrong Nation: How has your college experience been so far?

Abby: Academically, college has been great! I am doing better in college than I did in high school. I disclosed my needs to the school upfront, and they have been super fantastic about the whole thing. I chose this school after attending an open house here when I was a senior in high school. I took a tour and I walked up to the student services table and told them what my needs were and what my head looked like from a learning perspective. A college representative looked at me and said, “I've seen lots of students with things like this. We have lots of tools to help you, if you reach out to us." I applied to this school because of that interaction, and they have held true with their promise. I love being here. My professors, who are all Psychology professors, understand and respect my disability. They challenge and inspire me to the extent that I go out and do my own research and come back all excited to share what I have found! (I am a total nerd sometimes, but if I hadn't done so much research I wouldn't be writing to you now!)

Headstrong Nation: What are some of the favorite tools that you use?

Abby: I have a plethora of tools. My favorite is spell check, with an added twist my dad told me to try. Spell check will tell me I have a word wrong, then I mess around with it to see if I can make it correct, if I can’t after 60 seconds or so, I then fix it by having spell check do it. Often I find that I know the correct letters are there, but not what order they go in, so this helps a lot. Also, having access to a keyboard has been my saving grace. At 20 years old, when writing by hand, I still sometimes write backward. Having a keyboard limits my mistakes to spelling and spacing. Having access to audio books is another tool that has saved my life as student. I haven’t needed to use them as much in college, but in high school audio books were what got me through most of my reading assignments and some of my free reading too.

Headstrong Nation: Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy?

Abby: I love to scuba dive. I took SCUBA in college to fill my physical education requirement and loved it. I was certified in September 2013. This was a challenge for me because I had to be able to read charts, and understand them, because, well my life could depend on it, and that made it a great motivator to keep practicing! Dive tables are really simple in theory,but I have a really hard time with them because there is such an importance in making sure they are correct. They measure the amount of nitrogen in your system, and let you know how deep you can go and when you need to return to the surface. Through scuba, I have made friendships and learned a great new skill!

Abby diving pic.PNG

Image of Abby courtesy of Ian Giouard. Used with permission.

(This is me on a group diving trip in Dutch Springs PA June 2014 (It was so HOT in all that gear!)

Headstrong Nation: How did you find out about Headstrong Nation?

Abby: I am a Junior in college right now, and one of the electives I took this semester was Psychology of Reading. In class we talked about how we read, and what happens in our minds while we read. We came to a section on reading impairments and I was so excited because dyslexia is something I obviously understand. We watched your video Headstrong Nation: Inside the Hidden World of Dyslexia and ADHD. I honestly feel anyone who has been identified as dyslexic should watch it. I cried while watching it. I experienced such a wide range of emotions. I think the biggest feeling was one of community. I never felt that I was missing out on being part of something. I was just me. It was eye opening to see other people experience the same frustrations and to use some of the same outlets. I would love to be able to reach out to other people who are looking to connect through your Facebook page. I think my motivation comes from how much I love talking to people, and if I could help someone, or their parent, understand more, that would be fantastic!

I currently have a blog, which is up and running again after a many year hiatus. I started it just as a verbal rant when I was twelve years old after a terrible experience with a relative trying to help me with a math lesson. While they meant well, I walked away from that lesson feeling more confused and upset because I felt stupid. The good that came out of that experience though, was that I felt inspired to speak out, and my blog, “I’m Dyslexic not Stupid” was born.

Headstrong Nation: What are your future dreams, goals or career aspirations?

Abby: Oh gosh, I have lots of dreams and ideas and goals. I really want to hold a sloth! But more seriously, I keep telling everyone that I am going to be the "House" of the Psychology world. I really want people to come to me when everything else has fallen apart. I want to finish my undergraduate degree in Psychology, and then continue on to a Masters in Behavior Analysis. I want to get married, have a family, buy a house, the standard American dream.

Headstrong Nation: Thanks for sharing your story with us Abby! We are glad that you are part of the Headstrong Nation community!


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