Reed’s family moved from Pittsburgh in 1977, and he attended Villa for grade three, four and five. He then transferred to West School in New Canaan. Reed recently visited with his daughter, Samantha.
In a phone conversation prior to his visit, Reed mentioned a documentary that he was in when he was about 6 years old and living in Pittsburgh. I said that the name of the 1976 documentary was The Puzzle Children and starred Julie Andrews and Bill Bixby. He was surprised that I remembered it and even more surprised that it was still available on YouTube. Here’s the link for the video:
Below is a copy of his email and a copy of his daughter’s artwork and composition. Villa Maria’s mission is needed more today than ever. Incidentally, Samantha will be a senior next year and needs to do a summer project. She decided to research how to help children with learning disabilities navigate the obstacles they face, and will live here in the convent for two weeks in June, observe in the classrooms, interview the teachers and students, etc.
Hi Sister Carol Ann, It was great speaking with you this afternoon. I was thrilled to learn the name of the PBS special and that it is available on the internet! I never thought I would see it again. It is the only childhood video of me. My parents and daughter enjoyed the trip down memory lane. We look forward to scheduling a time to visit later this month. My daughter is excited to come as well. She is passionate about learning disabilities and helping people. Attached below is a painting and description she did freshman year about her dyslexic father. Sincerely, Reed
Why do they call you Reed if you can’t read? They should call you RE-tard!
By Samantha Scott
For my Protest Painting, I chose to represent dyslexia as my social issue, because I have a personal connection to it through my father. When we see someone who is physically impaired, such as someone who is paralyzed in a wheelchair, we can see the challenges they have to face every day such as not being able to walk, not being able to reach objects on a shelf, having trouble opening doors, etc. However, when you look at someone with a learning disability such as dyslexia, you cannot see the hardships they have to overcome on a daily basis. This could be spending double the amount of time on homework than the normal person, being the last person to hand in every test, or feeling left behind when it seems like everyone around them is exceling.
In my painting, there is a little boy, around the age of a first grader learning how to write, and everything he writes is backwards. His arm touching the bottom of the chalkboard represents his young age. The white-erased, green chalkboard represents the setting, an elementary school classroom. The gray background is showing that the situation is sad and a dark place for the young boy. The little boy is supposed to be my father, growing up with dyslexia. My dad told me about the embarrassment and anxiety he felt as a six-year-old boy when every other kid in his class was starting to read chapter books, while he couldn’t read or write a single sentence. At the time, he didn’t know he had dyslexia, and thought something was wrong with him. To make it worse, his name was Reed, and people in his class would say to him, “Why do they call you Reed if you can’t read? They should call you RE-tard!” This hurtful comment that my dad’s peers jeered at him really stuck out to me, which is why I decided to make it my title; it represents the comments people with learning disabilities receive about being stupid over something they cannot control.
I wish my dad knew when he thought something was wrong with him that 15% of the U.S. population is diagnosed with dyslexia – he isn’t alone! Although 15 might sound like a small number, 15% of the U.S. population is over 48 million people. This is a staggering number of people, and I was in awe when I saw this statistic. I hope this speaks to people to be more aware the next time they call someone “dumb” or “stupid” when they see someone having trouble reading and writing, that there is a chance that they are battling dyslexia, or some other type of learning disability. This is why I included the “15 percent of Americans” written backwards on the chalkboard to show that it doesn’t affect just a couple of kids in rare situations, but over 48 million people.