In this episode of the VulnerABILITY Podcast, host Marisa Donnelly welcomes Jennifer Wildasin, a mother and small business owner who’s passionate about changing the educational landscape and building a village for those with dyslexia.

Both women have sons who struggle with dyslexia—not only in finding the resources, but understanding what’s actually needed for growth, confidence, and change. Whether you have dyslexia, know someone who does, or are simply curious about learning more, this episode is filled with passion and purpose.

Highlights from the Episode:

[1:30] “Dyslexia affects every one in five people… And that’s a huge amount of our population that is either going undiagnosed or not getting the resources that they need. The information comes into the brain and it’s just processed differently. But they are great problem-solvers, they’re out-of-the-box thinkers, [and] they’re creative in just the ways they come up with solutions and ideas.”

[2:50] “There is a handful of schools out there [for dyslexic students] but they’re 40-50K a year, and the average parent just cannot get up, relocate, and pay that type of money.”

[6:20] “As a mom, you just want to protect your child.”

[7:30] “You’re a mom with a passion. Make it happen! Open up a school, open up a tutoring center.”

[8:40] “I’m just going with it. There’s such a need here, as there is in, really, all over the United States. I just want to make a difference. I want to do this for my son, but I want to do this for so many other families, so many families who have the same story.”

[10:50] “I just want to be a resource to parents, parents that are going, ‘I feel my child has dyslexia or something, I just don’t know where to go.”

[11:20] “80% of dyslexics end up in the prison system.”

[12:45] “As a parent, you realize, ‘This is what my child needs, and I’m going to fight for that… I found something that works and I’m going to fight for it to the death because I know it works.’ And then slowly you start to build that support around you, which means everything.”

[13:25] “Ever since he got that diagnosis, I told him to wear it like a proud badge. That’s something special.”

[13:40] “It [dyslexia] only becomes a disability when children don’t receive the proper resources.”

[15:30] “You get a fire lit underneath you because you realize that it’s not that people don’t care but it’s just there’s so much that people don’t know.”

[17:30] “It’s a lot on the parents, but I think it’s the passion behind, ‘I want to help my child; how do I figure this out?’ that makes progress.”

[18:30] “Children need a village. And we do. We all need to grow together.”

[19:00] “I just want it [my center] to be a place where kids can come and get support… but I also just want to emphasize on their talents. They tend to be entrepreneurs, and scientists, and engineers, and architects, and a lot of them are gifted in the arts.”

[24:30] “How we look at it [dyslexia] can change the way that the people who have it feel because it’s all about understanding the advantages of how your mind works. And rather than seeing how it inhibits the classroom, it’s saying, ‘Well, what can these students offer?'”

[25:05] “Because it’s not a disadvantage. Everybody learns differently. This just has a label. And if we can understand that label and figure out what works for these individuals, it’s not a disadvantage. It’s just how they learn.”

[28:20] “We’re not alone in this. The more that we can share information, and build these resources, and connect with one another and just remind one another that we’re not alone—[then] we can help these students, and just people in general, understand that… it’s a gift.”

Recommended Resources:

  • From chickens to building a village! To read more about Jennifer and Cole’s story, click here.
  • The Dyslexic Advantage: This is the book I’ve been reading that’s inspired me forward and showed me the power I have as a parent to fight for my son’s needs. (PS: You can read my parenting story right here.)
  • Learn more about The Dyslexia Center of Saint Augustine right here

building a village for dyslexic students

For more episodes of the VulnerABILITY Podcast, click here.