CELEBRATION OF HOPE - Tyler Russell

Tyler Russell has dyslexia. Before his family found Regional Rehab, it was a daunting challenge. Not anymore.

Posted: Nov. 9, 2017 5:09 PM
Updated: Nov. 10, 2017 6:50 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: On Sunday, we will air "Celebration of Hope," a telethon we do every year in support of Tupelo's Regional Rehab Center. It is one of the city's best known treatment centers for speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, dyslexia and so much more. In this story, WTVA's Mike Russell profiles a Tupelo teen who's seeing things a whole lot differently, thanks to his Regional Rehab team.

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - In Tupelo, the Regional Rehabilitation Center has a knack for looking at different ways to treat people with special needs. Here, one young man is getting a whole new view of the world. His name is Tyler Russell.


Dyslexia...it's commonly known as a neurological glitch. When people have it , they struggle when they're reading. Words and letters may seem to move around or drop out altogether. Spelling can be a challenge. Writing can be difficult. And as school gets more complicated, grades often head south.

Tyler's father Dave describes it as he sees it. "...The Common Core curriculum hit, and he started going downhill fast."

That was the case with Tyler three and a half years ago. And then his family found Regional Rehab...and speech pathologist Tina Finch.

"Do you capitalize....abbreviations...YES! Yes. Abbreviations..."

That's the sound of breakthrough, as acknowledged by speech language pathologist Tina Finch. She's been working with Tyler since the third grade, and she knows that despite the hardships, there's a silver lining. Children who have dyslexia are usually incredibly creative, often athletic, and expressive verbally.

"They can't put their thoughts down on paper, because they cannot read," says Finch. "But yet they can -- orally and verbally -- tell you anything and everything you want to know."

Dyslexia starts as a neurological tangle, often morphing later into a behavioral concession or crutch. Tackling it early reaps rewards. There's no question that Tina's help has boosted Tyler's grades over the three years of his treatment so far.

"As I have trouble in school," says Tyler, "it helps me so much just to come here and tell [Tina Finch] what I'm having problems with. They help me fix it, and it all turns out incredible."

"So...Tyler is dyslexic, but it's not near the challenge it used to be. In fact, Tyler's has big plans for his future. Thanks to Regional Rehab, he's thinking about becoming a lawyer. How's that for knocking down the mountain?

FINAL NOTE: Experts say that ten to fifteen percent of the American population has dyslexia. Of those with poor reading skills, dyslexia is one of the leading causes.

A reminder: you can watch "Celebration of Hope" this coming Sunday from 1 to 3pm on ABC WTVA. Or you can watch it in person at the food court at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.

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