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Kevin and Elaine knew that their son had problems with reading and spelling from day one. This niggling feeling was followed by mounting evidence at school and at home. After a long wait and a hard fight, his parents finally convinced the local education authority to assess Callum at which time their suspicions were confirmed.

By now Callum was 8 years old. He had been diagnosed as dyslexic and his reading was 3 years behind his peers. It was Kevin and Elaine’s hope that following the battle that had built up to the diagnosis, this would be the first step towards expertly and swiftly ending their son’s struggles. As it turned out this could not have been further from the truth.

When inaction from the school continued Elaine set out to discover for herself the options that were available. A few months later Callum started the Dore programme. It seemed to have quite an impact at first, especially on his balance. But after the initial boost it became clear that the improvements weren’t permanent and the guessing habit quickly re-emerged. His spelling too continued to be very poor, and that year he was moving up to senior school[1].

In other areas of his life Callum was a self-starter. A good football player; he started refereeing when he was only 11 and qualified as soon as he could at 14, officiating in tournaments throughout the country. Callum also joined the Police Cadets after doing work experience with them and was promoted twice before his age forced him to leave at 18.

What’s more, despite his own troubles Callum set out to help others like himself with their reading problems. He pioneered a scheme for tackling dyslexia by creating focus groups and giving talks to teachers and other professionals at national conferences. He even gave an earful to the Secretary for Education!

At school Callum fought against the tide as best he could, partly due to his passion and talent for science. At 14 he gained a GSCE[2] in Astronomy and was also put forward for an AS Level[3] in Critical Thinking.

No one could deny that Callum’s passion and drive in all areas of life set him apart from his classmates. Unfortunately when it came to reading and writing he was set apart for a different reason; this came to the fore when he was 15 years old.

As usually happens during life defining moments, Callum was motivated by a shocking failure. Verbally he was a high flier in his Critical Thinking class. But when the fifteen-year-old sat down to take the written test he failed. Why? He couldn’t read the questions. Even with the help of a reader he was stumped. For so long, avoidance of reading has been a solution for Callum. But this blow was the turning point he needed to understand that in order to live his life to the full he had to be able to read.

A few weeks later Elaine discovered Easyread. Following some research she talked it through with Callum and they decided to give it a go.  Initially they didn’t work alongside Callum as he did the sessions, and as a result some avoidance was able to creep in. But after some coaching from the team at Easyread of the benefits of a guiding hand, Kevin took on the role of sitting alongside his son as he worked through the sessions.

After just a few days Elaine and Kevin observed their son’s confidence rising in a way that they had never seen before. After 6 weeks Callum experienced significantly improved word recognition and as the weeks went by this blossomed into unprecedented success in outside reading. Elaine, prevented from daily involvement by ME, could hardly believe the transformation.

He even set himself the challenge of reading a chapter from one of the most challenging texts in English Literature-The Lord of the Rings-and managed it! Writing as well started to improve beyond recognition. Most importantly throughout all this Callum was actually having fun!

And the rest, as they say, is history…

Since finishing Easyread Callum has achieved 13 GCSEs-including a C in English. He is about to complete a Diploma in Applied Science, for which he is on course for a Triple Distinction (equivalent to 3 passes at A* at A Level).

Easyread had also transformed Callum’s’ life outside of education too, from being able to read road signs to confidently “booking” players when refereeing; everything had changed for the better.

As far as Callum’s future is concerned, he is well on the way to achieving everything he ever dreamed of. Next year he will begin his degree in Computer and Digital Forensics at Teesside University. It’s the only course of its kind in the UK and as such he fought off fierce competition to be offered one of the sought after places. (It’s worth adding that its likely most of his competitors had been reading since they were 6, unlike Callum who started when he was 16.)

When Kevin looks back, he remembers how something always “hung like a shadow” over his son: “but that something has gone with the growth in his confidence and his ability to read. Those silly little Easyread symbols gave him the key to the world of reading. Thank you for changing his life”.

Callum’s is a story of strength in the face of adversity and unswerving determination. He is an example to us all.


[1] High School

[2] SAT

[3] PSAT

Laura O’Sullivan is a Program Coach for the Easyread System, an online phonics course developed specifically for children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and highly visual learning styles who need support for spelling and reading problems. Find out more at