MUNCIE, Ind. — John Perry and his twin brother Nate pause before answering questions, seemingly choosing their words carefully. People often assume they are shy since they aren’t quick to speak. But, if given the chance, they’ll set the record straight.
They aren’t shy, speaking is just difficult.
Both John and Nate have severe dyslexia, which impacts a lot more than just how they read.
Dyslexia affects how the brain processes language. As John and Nate’s mom, Nanci Perry, explains, it changes their understanding of order and sequencing. For example, John and Nate didn’t understand the value of a letter or a sound the way other children would, and learning about things like syllables wasn’t as intuitive.
Nanci and her husband Kirk first noticed when the boys started missing language benchmarks. It wasn’t until second grade that they got an official diagnosis. And even though they’ve been receiving special tutoring since then, communication probably always will be difficult for John and Nate.
That’s why it came as a surprise to Jeff Mosier when John said he wanted to get up and speak at Fields of Faith, in front of hundreds of people.
The Perrys, who run track and cross country, had been attending Mosier’s weekly FCA gathering at Yorktown High School for a couple of years. He recognized they were quiet, possibly shy, but Mosier could tell there was something else going on.
John began speaking more at the group, sharing devotions. Then, six weeks ago, he asked Mosier if he could share his story in a much bigger way, at Fields of Faith, a large student-led worship held by FCA groups nationwide. This year the local gathering will start at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Fieldhouse and will include students from 11 local schools.
For the past six weeks John has been working with his speech tutor, a dyslexia specialist, to carefully craft a page and a half of copy on his iPad. He didn’t even share it with Nate until last week. Nanci didn’t hear it until a practice run at Cammack United Methodist Church on Sunday in front of about 30 people — his largest crowd yet.
There were tears, she said. Most people in the audience have watched him grow up, and know how hard he’s been working. John said he was nervous, but stayed confident. He wants to be a pastor, so he’ll have to get used to public speaking.
“Communication is the greatest challenge they are going to face,” Nanci said. “And here John is going to stand firmly in the middle of it, and proclaim his faith. And if that’s not a powerful message, I don’t know what a powerful message would be.”
Nanci hopes John’s story will show parents that they should listen to their instincts if they are worried about their own child, because early identification of dyslexia is key. And also that it’s never too late for those with dyslexia to get the specialized help they need.
John hopes his peers in the audience take away a simple message: “You can rise up tough through challenges in life.”
And while it’s impressive that he will get up on stage to say that, he and Nate are also demonstrating it every day.
“He’s already been inspiring people,” Mosier said. “I think his takeaway will be that God can use him in an incredible way, even in the midst of some challenges.”
Source: The (Muncie) Star Press, http://tspne.ws/2dkuQRC
Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com
This is an Indiana Exchange story shared by The (Muncie) Star Press.