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2010 December 1 - 12:00 am

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Learning Disorder Doesn’t Dampen Student’s Dreams

HOUMA, La. (AP) — Josh LaRose said he understands what it’s like to be an underdog.

Since he was a small boy, LaRose has struggled with dyslexia, a learning disorder marked by impairment to recognize and comprehend written words.

While other children his age were breezing through books and reciting multiplication tables on command, LaRose said he sat confused and frustrated.

“I was constantly struggling,” said LaRose, 19, who recently started his third semester at Fletcher Technical Community College in Houma, where he’s majoring in drafting and design.

“I had to go to summer school and had to keep trying harder and harder. Eventually they found out I had the disorder, and that’s when they were able to help me out.”

His mother, Tina, said she saw that something was wrong with her son in elementary school, but added they couldn’t get a firm diagnosis until he was a sophomore in high school.

“That’s why I started up The Learning Connection,” said Tina, a full-time registered nurse. “It was a center where we provided tutoring services for children and teens that were having similar problems.” The center is now closed.

What made LaRose different than some was his desire to work through the disability instead of giving up, Tina said. He had to spend long hours studying and making sure he entered each school day fully prepared.

“The only way I can get past it is to do things repetitively over and over until it eventually clicks,” said Larose.

However, LaRose hasn’t let dyslexia slow him down. The Thibodaux native is a member of two regional bands, Love Gun and Cauldron.

According to LaRose, he’d only been playing guitar for five years before joining these bands at 18.

“With dyslexia, it was hard for me to read guitar music because some of it has numbers in it,” he said. “So to learn it, I really had to concentrate.”

Just like he experienced during his junior year of high school when he was told he was reading at a senior level, LaRose knew he had bested his disability after someone who was teaching him guitar told him “they couldn’t show him any more,” according to LaRose.

“That was such a great feeling,” he said. “There were times where other people were excelling more than me, but I refused to let that get me down. Then came that moment when I passed them up, and it was amazing.”

Shortly after securing a spot with heavy-metal group, Cauldron, LaRose stumbled on to a flyer advertising for a KISS tribute band called Love Gun.

LaRose could tell that the other members were hesitant about having a 18-year-old guy join the group.

“I went to the audition and basically they told me that I blew them away,” LaRose said about his newest gig with Love Gun. “At first, they couldn’t see themselves playing with someone so much younger than them, but that quickly changed once they heard me play and got to know me as a person.”

Russ Doty, who plays rhythm guitar and provides vocals for Love Gun, said he was unaware of LaRose’s learning disorder.

“All I know is he’s an amazing guitar player,” Doty said.

“He’s a great guy and was a perfect fit for our band. ... I definitely think he’s got the skill set to be well-known outside of just Louisiana.”

LaRose said hard work and dedication has helped him achieve a successful outcome.

“I want to tell people out there not to give up no matter what anyone tells you,” LaRose said.

“The only reason I’m playing music right now is because I didn’t give up on my dream. If I would have been like ‘This is too difficult for me to do because it’s hard to read the music,’ then I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now. You just have to keep pushing forward regardless of what life throws at you.”

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