Will had – astutely – identified two things he knew he needed to get a true grasp on the independence that he valued above all else. He needed to be able to use public transportation, freeing him from relying on others for rides, which he found infantalizing. And he needed to improve his reading skills. Will *could* read. But he could not read well, and it was a deficit that had never been properly addressed. Ray Graham, he believed, would help him with this. They had made promises.
But the “help” he received was a suggestion that he contact “Literacy Volunteers”, a group of dedicated and earnest folk who had absolutely no training in working with people who’s reading deficits were due to a disability. The volunteers tried, and Will tried – I found countless notebooks filled with his practice session notes – but little progress was made. Finally, the literacy volunteer program told him they could not help him more. He was frustrated and upset; Ray Graham offered no options, what would he do? He practiced on his own as much as he could. He went to bookstores, purchased books, and worked, extremely hard, at reading. He read magazines, newspapers, anything at hand. He made some improvements. But after we met, I noticed something about Will – his eyes didn’t track all the way to the right. A former homeschooler, I worked with him on phonics and found he had no problems sounding out words – but when it came to reading sentences, he started off well and then lost the thread as he progressed to the right. “Neurological issue”, a family member of mine with medical training offered, and I made inquiries as to which specialists might be able to help. “Work on language therapy at the same time,” another advised me, “maybe with people who work with stroke patients.” And I made more inquiries and located people who felt sure they could help Will with these matters. He was filled with hope. He’d just learned how to use email for the first time and had begun practicing using the internet. He could see the world truly opening for him.
And then it was January 2010, and time for his medical scans, to see if the Interleukin 2 therapy he’d undergone was still keeping the melanoma at bay.