Even a late diagnosis of dyslexia and ADHD won’t slow this athlete down. At Auburn University, Peyton Barber knew something was not right when he began to experience a familiar problem.
He was reading, and the words seemed to come off the page. He realized he was reading backward. He knew he had always had this difficulty, so he decided to check it out with a counselor. Immediately, the counselor arranged for him to be tested.
Barber was diagnosed with dyslexia, a reading disorder that affects how the brain interprets words and symbols, and though it wasn’t surprising, the official diagnosis provided a sense of relief for the freshman.
The running back was diagnosed with ADHD in middle school, an obstacle the Alpharetta, Ga., native battles every day with the help of medication, tutors and guidance and support from coaches and family.
His father is also dyslexic. The family knew in high school Barber likely had dyslexia, a disorder often tied to ADHD.
“Society is cruel sometimes,” said Ken Barber, Peyton’s father. “Just because you’re dealing with ADHD and dyslexia doesn’t mean you’re not smart.”
In his first few months on campus Barber has proven himself to not only be a smart student and player, he’s also tough. Heisman finalist Tre Mason said in January the running back was “the best out of all of us” at the position. Barber also excelled in the classroom at the time and capped his first fall semester at Auburn with a 3.8 GPA.
Barber’s success off the field, and what he hopes is a fast rise in Gus Malzahn’s offense in 2014 and beyond, doesn’t come easy. He admits learning the playbook took “a little bit longer” when he arrived on campus in the summer. Digesting the complex calls, language and philosophy is tough for any newcomer, but it can be exhausting for Barber, who has to spend more time studying the playbook than “the average person,” he said.
“Everything was moving so fast,” he said. “I didn’t really have a chance to sit down and think about stuff.”
He seeks guidance from his father often and they both share their experiences battling dyslexia.
“It’s repetition,” Ken Barber said. “That’s what it takes. Once he gets it, he’s off and running.”
Barber told Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee about his ADHD diagnosis during an official visit to Auburn on Feb. 2, 2013. The coaches vowed to help him and he committed to the Tigers the next day.
If you run into Peyton Barber on campus today, he’s likely heading to class, practice or to the Auburn Athletic Complex to put in a few extra hours studying the playbook and film from a recent practice.
Repetition and extra hours studying, after all, is the key to success.
Read more about dyslexia