Learning curve

Coral Springs 8-year-old doesn’t let dyslexia hold back his talent for art

By Michelle F. Solomon

When Logan Priest was 6 years old, his mother, Lisa, became concerned about his learning abilities. “No matter how hard he tried to sound out words, he could not read,” she says. There was one area, however, where Logan did excel. “He would create these amazing drawings when he was in kindergarten.”

After taking their son to specialist after specialist, Lisa and her husband Bryan discovered that Logan had dyslexia, a learning disability that makes reading, spelling and writing a struggle.

While the Coral Springs mother was grateful that her son’s talent in art allowed him to express himself, she wanted to make sure that he was receiving the right tools to help him cope with his disability and excel in school. “It really does take a village to remediate one child,” she says.

She worked in tandem with the early special education department at Heron Heights Elementary School and its use of the Wilson Reading System, a proven, structured, multisensory program for teaching children with dyslexia to read. Lisa’s sister, Jamie Blatt, saw such a change in her nephew that she started a tutoring company called Jamie the Tutor, which specializes in working with children with learning disabilities.

Now 8 years old, Logan is “soaring,” Lisa says. “His dyslexia held him back in many ways where he felt unsuccessful, but it’s all coming together.”

Since his confidence has risen, Logan is also living up to his art potential. He says he looks up to contemporary artist Romero Britto, finding inspiration after seeing an exhibition of Britto’s at the Coral Springs Museum of Art.

Logan was able to attend summer camp at the museum, where he took formal art classes from instructors who taught him about lines, shapes, space, color and texture. Diana Robaina, education and public program manager at the Coral Springs Museum of Art, was instrumental in giving Logan the opportunity to attend a number of different classes.

“Lisa contacted me and asked if Logan could take some classes,” says Robaina. “He learned from teachers who could tap into things that he could respond to and that would help center him.” The Coral Springs Museum of Art offered the family a 75 percent scholarship so he could attend both the morning and the afternoon sessions without it costing the family a “fortune,” says Robaina.

Logan says he was able to try everything at the museum’s art camp, from comic book design to sculpting. “I didn’t think I’d even like sculpting, but I did. I still like drawing and painting the best,” he says.

Art has proven to build confidence in children with dyslexia, many of whom suffer from self-esteem issues from a feeling of not fitting in. “For children with dyslexia, learning doesn’t come easy – they are not the top child in the class at school. But with art, it’s different,” says Robaina. “And with Logan, he was one of the children in the camp where learning came easy. Other kids were coming to him and saying, ‘How’d you to that?’ It flipped things for him. Here, he was the rock star. In art, there is no right or wrong, so he was able to come here, express himself and get positive feedback. For these kids, it’s a safer environment.”

Since the school year started, Logan has been busy creating a project for his teachers. He asked each one to name their favorite animal and surprised them with Britto-inspired personal artworks.

Not shy, he assuredly says that he has a talent and that he someday wants to go to art school and eventually exhibit his paintings at a gallery or a museum – maybe even at the Coral Springs Museum of Art.

As for Lisa, she’s become an advocate to help guide parents through the special education process so that, as she says, no child has to struggle. ?

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