Ingrid Norgrove used to dread that her son would end up in prison. Now she couldn’t be more proud. He’s completing an honours degree in psychology with the aim of helping other children who flounder like he once did. “Tadgh (pronounced Tie-g as in Tiger) got into SPELD and suddenly realised he could be taught the techniques to read and write and he actually started believing in himself,” says Ingrid. “It was a turning point in his life. The change in him has been unbelievable!”
SPELD is a national organisation that supports the learning needs of those with Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties (SLD), by providing assessments and specialist SLD teachers, so the learner can attain their educational potential. Tadgh recalls his world falling apart when he was around 6 years old. “Teachers always thought I was a lovely kid but didn’t know how to deal with me. I struggled immensely with words. I tried so hard and put in huge effort but there was still a very big gap and I became ostracized from other kids.” Getting a SPELD assessment of Tadgh was a light-bulb moment for Ingrid. “I remember thinking ‘A ha! Somebody can see what I see.’ Tagdh did weekly lessons with Mary (his SPELD teacher) for three years. Consistently giving one-on-one, individualized help, made all the difference – not just with reading but also problem solving.” Tadgh says he found it very hard to admit when he didn’t know something. “I used to get very mad and upset when I couldn’t understand concepts. Mary helped me find coping strategies to go into the problems with a calm, open mind. She was super patient. If I didn’t get something the first time, she would come at it in a different way. That never happened at school. Most teachers found it very hard I was so far behind. The system we have at the moment is not designed to support people with learning disabilities. “Mary put me on the track I’m on now. The real thing that drove me forward was her positive reinforcement. I have learned now through studying psychology that it’s the most important thing when you are trying to teach someone. I think hope is vital. I didn’t have hope. She was amazing. I’m forever grateful to her.”
Acorn provided a grant to SPELD NZ in 2016 to support its programme in the Western Bay of Plenty.