My name is Emily O’Connor. I am dyslexic. Advantage Math Clinic is my creation; a small business born to serve students and families like me.
I think Ben Foss says it the best in The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, “it’s incredibly important for people who are in the experience [of having dyslexia] to have a seat at the table.”
Advantage Math Clinic is mine.
My earliest memories of school are tinged with a hazy sense of anxiety and shame. My Kindergarten teacher called my Mother early in the year to share that I was having extreme difficulty memorizing the alphabet. In 1st grade I vividly remember my teacher discovering that I had been, for at least the past six weeks, putting every single worksheet she handed out into my desk, uncompleted. I remember my teacher’s eyes going round, and her kneeling down and gently asking me, why had I not asked for help, why had I not raised my hand? This teacher also called my Mother, and requested that I take all the worksheets home to complete and return to school.
It is undoubtedly one of the greatest good fortunes of my life that my parents honored my experience of struggle and intervened. When I was in second grade, I began a specific intervention that allowed me, over the subsequent three years, to make the unique neural connections my brain required in order to read.
Once I was able to read, I read voraciously; to this day some of my happiest memories are taking in the magic of print (The Secret Garden) during this period of my life. I still had difficulty with spelling, but I developed coping skills and was good at memorizing the shape of words, which meant my attempts at spelling hard words ended up somewhat close most of the time.
Mathematics, however, remained elusive.
I was unbelievably confused by the concept that one could actually memorize the multiplication tables. Equally baffling were concepts involving finding something called a Greatest Common Factor and turning one set of fractions into a totally different set of fractions.
However, I played to my strengths, and decided that since I was good at talking to people, learning new information, and seeing the big picture, I would just do those things and everything would be fine.
As it often is, everything was fine. While working for The Boys and Girls Clubs I discovered a love of working with kids, and decided to become a teacher. After I graduated from Lewis and Clark College with my M.A.T. I had another enormous stroke of good luck: I took a Slingerland Year 1 course, and learned that there were other people who had a brain like mine and how to help them.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to take numerous workshops and courses on dyslexia. I am a Certified Barton Reading & Spelling System tutor, and have earned Susan Barton’s recommendation as a Dyslexia Specialist.
In 2016 I had the good fortune to begin working with Gina Cooke, of https://linguisteducatorexchange.com. If you want to understand the truth and beauty inherent in English Orthography (orth + o + graph + y-->orthography; the base elements denote 'correct writing/recording') she is your person. Well, she is one of your people. Through Gina I met Michel of Real Spelling ( http://www.realspelling.fr/Welcome_to_Real_Spelling/Choose-New.html ) and my entire life changed, as it often does when you realize the truth about something/meet an extraordinary scholar.
I do not currently use the Barton Reading and Spelling System, because Susan Barton is wrong about a whole bunch of stuff and has no desire to revise her stuff so she is less wrong. For example: *<tion> is not a suffix. For example: three syllable words can totally have stress fall on the final syllable (referee). For example: daughter is not a sight word. In the word "daughter" there are 8 letters but only 4 graphemes: <d>, <a>, <t>, and <er>. <ugh> is not a grapheme in that word, but is instead a literal unit serving as an etymological marker which binds "daughter," through it's spelling, to it's Old English past. Just because you don't know the story doesn't mean there isn't one.
During my tenure teaching at an independent school for children with dyslexia, I discovered the Making Math Real® Institute and Making Math Real Multisensory Structured Methods, and my life changed forever. I learned that there were very specific reasons why I had always struggled to learn math, and this knowledge was both painful & empowering.
To date I have taken 354 instructional hours of Making Math Real® courses, and have been teaching students using these methods since 2013.
This work has been the most fulfilling and happiest of my life, and I feel like the luckiest person alive to be doing it.