Eight-year-old Jayden Nasir Warren is a second grader at Woodmere Elementary School in Eatontown, New Jersey. He loves to dance, sing and play his Xbox One. One of Jayden’s dreams is to play in the NBA like his role model Stephen Curry. Jayden’s parents, LaDena Rawlings and Jeremiah Warren, describe him as a “very compassionate soul.” On Sundays Jayden loves to attend the New Beginnings Agape Christian Center in Freehold, New Jersey where he helps the women’s choir on and off stage and sets up water glasses for the ministerial staff.
In December I received a message from Jayden’s mother via Facebook. I learned that Jayden and I share a similar story. The message read:
I just want to simply say thank you for being you! I’m currently going through the process of having my 7 year old son who is in the 2nd grade tested for a learning disability. I am struggling with the fears of him being labeled, secluded from his classmates & him just being another statistic. I’ve seen him struggle with homework, classwork & especially math/word problems for the past year. I’ve tried what I thought was my best to help him on my own but something is still not clicking. I’m slowly finding myself sinking into depression worried about my baby boy passing the 2nd grade until I read your biography. I have yet to explain to my son that something could be wrong because I’m still not 100% sure of his disability but your book will most definitely help him cope with the situation & understand that he is not alone. I wish I had the money now to purchase it from Amazon but due to my unemployment status I will try my best next week. God bless you & thank you again. Your testimony has truly given me the strength & courage to fight until the battle is won for my son.
In third grade I was referred to a special education program and Ms. Rawlings message deeply resonated with me. The feelings of stigmatization, resentment and disinterest in school inspired me to author and publish Nelson Beats The Odds. I immediately sent the family a free autographed copy of my book. After the family read the book, Ms. Rawlings thanked me and reported that she “cried tears of joy” when Jayden said he wanted to be like the book’s main character, Nelson, when he grew up. Ms. Rawlings admitted that her fiancé was also apprehensive about getting Jayden tested. Mr. Warren began to open up to the idea after several meetings and conferences with Jayden’s teachers. Nelson Beats the Odds also played a factor in the family’s decision to get their son tested for a learning disability. “We decided to proceed with the testing after reading your book. It really encouraged both of us”, said Ms. Rawlings.
Jayden’s test results indicated that he had a condition called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). According to the SPD Foundation, “SPD is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses”. One study found that at least 1 in 20 children are affected by SPD. Neuroscientist Dr. A. Jean Ayres likened the condition to a neurological “traffic jam” because certain parts of the brain are prevented from receiving the information required to interpret sensory information correctly. Mrs. Rawlings says, “We are now working on repeating information to him 3-4 times in different ways in order for it to “click” into his mind.” She says Jayden has a teacher’s aide that sits with him during class and assists him with instruction.
I’d like to thank Jayden and his parents for allowing me to share their story. Nelson Beats The Odds may have inspired you, but your story continuously inspires me. Your testimony has renewed my commitment to put Nelson Beats The Odds in the hands of as many struggling learners as I can. Jayden, I wish you well on your April 24, 2016 baptism at the New Beginnings Agape Christian Center.
For more inspirational stories visit our #iBeatTheOdds Facebook group page. Also please visit our website to purchase a copy of Nelson Beats The Odds and download our free app, mixtape and teacher’s guide.