We're still catching our collective breath after RFB&D’s 51st National Achievement Awards concluded on February 9 in Washington, DC. The impressions of that week are vivid and panoramic; we captured more than can be condensed into one blog post or even a few. Over the next several weeks, we’ll share images, soundbites, and points of perspective that surfaced at the “Avenues to Access” Roundtable, in our meetings on Capitol Hill, and the Awards celebration itself.
View the photo album from this year's NAA Media Roundtable and Awards Ceremony
Here is a brief statement from Kyle Wittenauer, one of this year's remarkable National Achievement Award winners. Despite his severe spatial processing deficiency and dysgraphia, Kyle was accepted early decision at Yale University to study cognitive neuroscience and play football.
I’d like to thank the selection committee and everyone else at RFB&D for this prestigious award. I’m humbled and honored to accept it and I can’t express what it means to be recognized in such an honor for something that I’ve had to face every day of my life.
“At a parent-teacher conference, my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Drudge, told my parents that she thought of me as someone who would order my favorite dessert and not want to eat it because I wanted to savor each and every bite. Little did she know that she had captured, in a positive way, at least part of my style and approach to the world. And little did I know what a challenge my nature would pose for the rest of my life.
“Now unfortunately our world operates on more of a regimented timetable than I do, and I had to learn to adapt. My mom use to call it 'Kyle’s time and the rest of the world time.' She encouraged me to embrace my nature but at the same time learn to subvert it so that I could operate with the rest of the world’s time when I needed to. By the time I was tested and my learning disability was diagnosed, somewhere before fifth grade, I already felt very different from the rest of my peers.
My hope is that the world never suffers from lost human potential because of undiagnosed learning disabilities.
“My parents taught me to never be defined by my limitations. On paper my deficits, up to that point, had been concealed pretty well by my aptitude. But as reading volume and intensity increased, they were about to place huge new demands on my abilities. Then RFB&D entered my life and changed my world. Without my DAISY reader and my books on CD, I certainly would have seen a rapidly widening schism between my aptitude and my performance. But I used my reader religiously and ordered every book I’ve needed for the past eight or nine years through RFB&D.
“Bottom line, RFB&D saved my academic career
. I’m even getting my college textbooks that have been available through RFB&D; more and more textbooks are added to the library all of the time and this effort will only serve to help me and my fellow afflicted contemporaries each day. We’ll be able to realize the potential that’s locked inside this monster with so many different names.
“So it’s a daily challenge to live with my learning disabilities. I’m grateful that I’ve benefited so much from the resources at RFB&D. My hope is that the world never suffers from lost human potential because of undiagnosed learning disabilities – learning disabilities that can be overcome with hard work, determination, and resources like RFB&D. Thank you again for this award.”
Below: Kyle Wittenauer with his parents, Tim and Mary Beth, February 7, 2011 in Washington, DC