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Dyslexic Thomas beats the odds

PUBLISHED: 20:00 06 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:36 03 March 2010

SEVERELY dyslexic Thomas Parmenter has achieved what nobody ever thought possible - by realising his ultimate dream of going to university.

His battle against the language difficulty to study for one of the highest science qualifications possible.

SEVERELY dyslexic Thomas Parmenter has achieved what nobody ever thought possible – by realising his ultimate dream of going to university.

His battle against the language difficulty to study for one of the highest science qualifications possible.

Famous scientists and inventors who also conquered dyslexia include Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Michael Faraday.

But teachers and relatives never expected Thomas to pass his eight GCSEs, let alone his A-levels.

When he started secondary school he couldn't even read and it took until the age of 14 for him to get to grips with that skill.

Now the 18-year-old is preparing to leave home for Swansea University to study for a masters' degree in chemical engineering.

His mum Elaine, of Gordon Road, Ipswich, knew he was prone to tantrums as a result of his frustrations.

We told in June 2000, how she desperately phoned the Dyslexic Institute in Chelmsford, and said she nearly fainted when they told her she had a child who could go to college.

Thomas was diagnosed as dyslexic, aged 11, and attended the Robert Milne Institute in Felixstowe Road for one day a week after school.

At the Institute, Thomas was taught how to cope with dyslexia and tried different ways to learn how to read.

His confidence grew and he got the help he needed at school, first at Thurleston High School – where his mum never thought he would pass his English GCSE but he was so determined that he did so at the third attempt – then Northgate High School.

Last month he was disappointed to get two grade C A-levels for physics and chemistry, and a D grade in maths, but it was enough to get onto his chosen course, and all four universities he had visited were impressed with his intelligence.

Mrs Parmenter hopes Thomas will have no problems with the four-year course he's embarking on in just over two weeks' time , with help from the university's special needs department and a disability grant for a laptop computer to help correct his spelling.

Mrs Parmenter said: "We'll go with him for the first few days to help with the entrance forms etc, but his spelling is much better these days and you can now tell what he's written.

"It's been hard work over the years and I've often been doing his homework with him. After the first article in the Evening Star I had people coming up to me in the street saying they'd read his story."

But that was years ago and now a delighted Mrs Parmenter said: "When he talks physics with his teacher I don't understand it, and he can read maths symbols which are a mystery to me!"

weblinks: www.dyslexia.uk.com

www.encarta.msn.co.uk/uk/smart/dyslexia

About four per cent of the population needs specialist education to help with problems associated with dyslexia.

On average, that translates into at least one child in every primary school class.

Dyslexia often goes untreated and can be misunderstood or even not recognised by some teachers and parents.

Dyslexia is a neurological condition that occurs in varying degrees of severity. The effects of dyslexia vary from person to person, but are most commonly characterised by a difficulty in learning literacy skills. As well as problems with reading, writing, and spelling, a dyslexic child may have poor numeracy skills or short-term memory, a difficulty with personal organisation, and, occasionally, behavioural problems.

Dyslexia can affect both boys and girls of all intellectual abilities and often runs in families. The good news is that with early assessment and the correct specialist teaching, the effects of the condition can be alleviated.

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