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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dyslexia and Juvenile Delinquency: A Path of Ashes

It is not uncommon to hear about all the high achievers and entrepreneurs with dyslexia, but did you know that there is also a disproportional number of juvenile offenders and criminals with this learning disability? Although it is true that some individuals with dyslexia are able to succeed in life despite their learning disability, unfortunately, many more have tragic stories to tell.  In fact, the United States Department of Education reported that 60 percent of American inmates are illiterate and 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.  In New Zealand, an estimated 10% of the population is dyslexic, yet percentages climb as high as 90% in their prisons.
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This week, I’m going to tell you the story of Ash Cousins.  Ash has dyslexia, and when he was an adolescent, he followed a path of crime.  It was a choice that had a tragic outcome, and Ash asked me to share his story, because he wants to do all that he can to assure that others don’t make the same mistake.

Ash's Story
At the age of 15, Ash was going through a troubling time.  He had rented an apartment due to a stressful situation in his family's home, and he had stopped going to school because his academic needs were not being addressed.  One night he was kicking back in his flat and drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana with a friend.  Soon, another chum dropped by and coaxed the two of them into joining him for a joy ride in a stolen car. At breakneck speed, the driver whipped the car around tight bends and recklessly accelerated down the roadways. The car began to swerve and skid and in a split second, the vehicle plunged off the road and crashed into a tree. Ash was not wearing a seatbelt and the impact resulted in a 3-month coma and a life-changing head injury.  He was the unlucky one, as the other two walked away without a bruise.

With the support of his family, extensive rehabilitation, as well as a lot of hard work and determination, Ash pulled through. Although he was unable to speak or walk, Ash learned to use an electric wheelchair as well as text to voice assistive technology. Eventually, he moved out of the rehabilitation center and rented his own apartment.

A message from Ash:
“Just because I’m in a wheelchair and talk through a computer, I'm no different from anybody else.  If anything, I'm more of a person, because I have turned a negative experience into a positive message.  So, I am OK with my life now.  I have good and bad days, but I am mostly happy.  

Just remember to really think! Think about who you get in the car with and always keep the seat belt on.  By helping people avoid the same mistake I made, my life has found a whole new meaning.”

This video can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdgjP0b2PGQ  Please be sure to follow this link and "Like" Ash's YouTube video! Also, share it across social media, so we can help Ash save lives!
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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