At age 7, freshman college student Dean Abbey of Comanche found out he had a learning disability – dyslexia. That’s the year he also started his racing career with basic go-carts.
Dyslexia, a developmental reading disorder that affects between 5 and 17 percent of the U.S. population, was difficult for Abbey to cope with in school.
“School was hard, and reading was really frustrating,” Abbey said. “My teachers didn’t really understand my dyslexia, so my parents had to help with school work. I worked hard.”
Although dyslexia has been a huge part of Abbey’s life, he has not let it get in his way of his dreams and goals even though it sometimes gets him down.
“Racing helps me get away from some of the down times of being dyslexic,” he said. “I escape when I race in my car.”
Through his racing, Abbey has also been able to teach others and promote understanding of dyslexia through his love of racing.
“The more people who understand dyslexia, the better it will be for the younger kids. My Legends car also teaches people about dyslexia. It has the logo for the International Dyslexia Association on it,” Abbey said.
Abbey is featured in a newly-published book, “That’s Like Me!” written by a New York teacher Jill Lauren. The 40-page volume is a nonfiction children’s book filled with pictures and stories about children with learning disabilities.
“The idea for the book came from those kids’ needs and when you hear Dean talk about racing and how much it helped him, you can see the energy in his eyes,” Lauren said in a telephone interview. “It is very powerful how racing makes him feel proud and very happy.”
In the book, Abbey expresses his personal struggle and experience with dyslexia as well as his hopes and dreams for the future.
“I am good at racing cars, so I will race for the rest of my life,” Abbey said. “I hope to make it to NASCAR, win the Nextel Cup, and even the Daytona 500,” Abbey said in the book.
Now, Abbey is in his freshman year of college at Texas State Technical College in Waco. He is an automotive major.
“Dylexia still affects me,” he said. “Reading is pretty difficult because there’s a lot of reading in college, but I’m making it work.”
Along with his college classes, Abbey is still racing regularly on weekends and has moved up to Limited Modified cars and still dreams of greater horizons.
“I still hope to go to NASCAR,” Abbey said. “It’s still a work in progress but I will try to make it.”
Lauren’s book can be found at Barnes & Noble bookstores as well as on Amazon.com.