Virginia author creates book encouraging students with disabilities

Published: May. 30, 2016 at 10:47 PM EDT|Updated: May. 30, 2016 at 11:27 PM EDT
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TAPPAHANNOCK, VA (WWBT) - School can be a tough place, especially for students who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities. In fact, it is these students who inspired a Virginia therapist to write a new book, letting them know that they can beat the odds.

"Nelson starts off in trouble. He starts off with his desk moving from the front of the class to the back of the class and outside of the class," said author Ronnie Sidney, II.

Sidney knows all about little Nelson and his antics. The Tappahannock native created him for his new book called Nelson Beats the Odds. Inside the book's colorful pages, you will find the story of Nelson, a middle school student who simply wants to be what he considers "normal."

"However, his learning disability prevents him from being in the classes that his friends are in and it causes some emotional pain for him," said Sidney, who works with quite a few "Nelsons" each day as an outpatient therapist. "The kids I work with are facing their own set of challenges, and a lot of them are court involved."

So, he wanted to write a fun story to encourage them.

"They can beat the odds," said Sidney.

It is a story not only based on what he has seen in working with children over the years, but on what he has lived.

"School was not a very happy place for me. I was in special education. Sixth and seventh grade were when I really started noticing that I wasn't in class with my friends and that this group of kids I was with, they had their own challenges. And that I was in this group," said Sidney.

Sidney was diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability. He started to resent school and even his parents for placing him in special education.

However, he says a few special teachers - similar to Nelson's teachers - taught him that he could beat the odds.

"I wanted to honor my teachers because they played instrumental roles in helping me become the person I am today," said Sidney.

He says his struggle has become his strength, and Nelson's story is becoming the strength of those who are just like him.

"Parents share pictures of their kids reading the book on Facebook. One parent even shared a picture of her son actually dressing up as nelson for Dr. Seuss Day," said Sidney. "They can beat the odds. I want them to know that there are people out there that
are rooting for them, supporting them, and encouraging them."

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