THE BLOG

How Technology Helped My Dyslexic And Dysgraphic Son

08/05/2014 07:11 EDT | Updated 10/05/2014 05:59 EDT

"Can I read you the rest of my story, Mom?"

It's 5:30 a.m. and I'm waiting for the truck to warm up, defrost on high. It's a foggy morning and my blurry, pre-dawn thoughts are focused on staying awake more than tracking with a story. But his chirpy enthusiasm is enough for both of us.

He reads with fluency and expression in the strong voice of his character, filling in the backstory as necessary, probing me for research points, asking me how self-publishing works, ribbing me that his book will win two awards, unlike mine. I wake up to this morning's not-so-little miracle, brought to me by technology.

My son has dyslexia and dysgraphia with a healthy dose of ADHD. Over the years we've been faithful with tutoring, medication, and speech-language therapy, but we haven't yet been able to crack the C minus ceiling above his language arts mark. Until now.

Last year, when he was in Grade 5, we both had access to iPads -- his through a gift using my brother's Save-On More points, mine through my school principal -- and we both began to explore the potential of this technology.

He used his at home as a toy, and I became part of a pilot project committed to exploring ways, beyond content apps, that these devices could increase student engagement. I was hopeful that, as a teacher, I'd eventually become the expert, but I have since surrendered to the fact that most six year-olds discover in five minutes what adults do in an hour. I also realized that we were both vastly under-using what we had been given.

So last September, we erased the games off his iPad and allowed him to purchase (with his summer reward money) the necessary keyboard attachment and Pages software to enable the iPad to be his substitution pencil.

For Grade 6 the results have were incredible, helping him improve from a C, to a C+, then a B! He uses his iPad for every subject but physical education and math, and manages his own homework daily, emailing his assignments to me when he wants help with editing or to his teacher when it's due.

He keeps track of his schedule each morning, reminding us when his team -- or mine -- has games. His confidence has blossomed with his level of increased responsibility. And he actually loves reading and writing, evidenced by this morning's early commute.

As we pull up to the rink, I realize something wonderful: whatever any report card declares, his latest story says it all.