Lucas Haynes and Simha – An Inspirational Story of Overcoming a Learning Disability

The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 11 – 27th October 2005

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In last week’s issue of The Maverick Spirit ( I read the following article.  I was so impressed I felt I had to pass it on.  May it help you to inspire any of your children who struggle to read and write.  Lucas Haynes, despite chronic dsylexia, has been awarded a prize for innovation by the Victorian Science Talent Search.

Pictured here with his beloved Bengal cat Simha, Lucas Haynes has not allowed his learning disability stop him from achieving extraordinary results in both life and school.

A cross between a Asian Leopard and a domestic moggie, Simha is by nature attracted to running water and only drinks from a water source that is running.

Concerned that Simha’s habit would cause great water wastage, Lucas designed and built a infra-red water saver that detects Simha’s presence and turns on the water. When Simha’s thirst has been satisfied and he moves away, the device turns the water off.

It took Lucas two months to design and build the infra-red water saver with the help of a friendly engineer who sourced the parts for the device.

Isn’t that inspiring… how many times have we heard the refrain: “Because I can’t read or write…”

Well this is what Lucas said to Kelly Ryan, a journalist from The Herald Sun who interviewed him for an article that appeared on October 17th, 2005:

“Because I can’t read or write, I couldn’t send an essay to accompany my entry in the competition. So I photographed it every step of the way instead and I did a PowerPoint presentation in which my voice could explain how and why I came to build the water saver.

Einstein was a slow learner and it didn’t hold him back. Not being able to read or write doesn’t mean you still can’t achieve things.”

And this young man is how old?? Lucas is a Year 2 pupil and is a ripe old age of 8!



Quote of the Week

‘Start using your imagination and see things as they can be.  Your success begins in your mind.’ (Shelley Taylor-Smith’s newsletter ‘Today’s Taylor-Made Motivation’ 6th July 2005 ‘


A child’s interpretation of birth !

The Middle Wife,  By an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher:
I’ve been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second-grade classroom a few years back.
 When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that.
And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it to school and talk about it, they’re welcome.
Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.  She holds up a snapshot of an infant.  “This is Luke, my baby brother and I’m going to tell you about his birthday. First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love and then Dad put a seed in my Mom’s stomach and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an “umbrella cord.” She’s standing there with her hands on the pillow and I’m trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.
“Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, ‘Oh, oh, oh!’   Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. “She walked around the house for, like an hour, ‘Oh, oh, oh!”  Now the kid’s doing this hysterical duck walk, holding her back and groaning.
“My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn’t have a sign on the car like the Domino’s man.” “They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.” Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.
“And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!” This kid has her legs spread and with her little hands are miming water flowing away. It was too much!
“Then the middle wife starts saying ‘push, push’ and ‘breathe, breathe’. They started counting, but never even got past ten.”
“Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff, they all said was from Mom’s play-center! , so there must be a lot of stuff inside there.”
Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I’m sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, if it’s show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another Erica comes along.


My new class are just loving ‘All about me’ section of your book and CD. ‘Shake yourself like a duck just out of water’ is a favourite. They love rolling balls too to ‘Rubber ball…’

Margy Supramaniam ‘Preschool teacher, ISS International School, Singapore.

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she has taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

57 Henry Lawson Walk, East Perth WA 6004
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: 0410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time – continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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