Annette Balestra is a mother to two beautiful boys, Dean (8) and Dominic (3).
Dean was diagnosed in May 2016, just before his 7th birthday, with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and also suffers with Executive Functioning delays. He has always struggled to read and spell (Dyslexia), writing was extremely labored for him (Dysgraphia), struggled with organization and staying on task in life and in school. Dean was regarded as "lazy" by his first-grade teacher which was upsetting, not only to him but his parents. If any knew Dean, it was mom. Annette witnessed how hard Dean worked just to write simple sentences and how frustrated he became with himself for not being able to read the words on the pages of his favorite books. He exhausted every effort, while struggling, in completing seemingly simple tasks. Dean was anything but lazy, he was one of the hardest working kids in his class.
Annette also noticed just how smart her son was. During his evaluation, his IQ was scored in the Superior category at 120. She realized that this was how Dean had managed his way through Kindergarten undetected. His comprehension, when read to, was outstanding which is uncommon for a dyslexic child. His vocabulary was
beyond his peers and his math abilities were superior when it did not include word problems where reading was involved. But, all his strengths were shadowed by his weaknesses in school.
Annette and her husband, Cliff, worked tirelessly to provide everything possible in order to help Dean. Insurance did not cover evaluations or services he needed such as his Physic-Ed evaluation, Speech Therapy or Occupational Therapy. In addition to these services, Dean desperately needed some form of tutoring. As a family they found it very difficult to find reliable resources to help them through the countless questions they had. They felt lost! Then the school system meetings began.
Annette left her full-time job as a legal assistant and transitioned to a Real Estate Agent in order to have additional time to provide to Dean and his needs. She spent her first few months studying his diagnosis and finding ways to help Dean, she spent countless hours researching how to get through the IEP meetings with the public school system. It was exhausting mentally, emotionally and financially but worth every moment because it meant helping her son to the best of her ability.
Flash forward two years, a new school, and an amazing tutor. Dean is now receiving Honor Roll each quarter, he is happy, confident and most of all successful! Annette truly believes that his dyslexia will propel him to great things in the future, but first they continue on their journey with Dean to learn to work around his weaknesses and to find and build on his strengths.