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October is Dyslexia Awareness Month

October 8, 2015
Blog Post

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month.  Despite the fact that millions of Americans are diagnosed with this condition, it is still not widely understood.  That is why this month, I will bring you information on dyslexia and also what can be done to help those with dyslexia achieve success academically, emotionally, and socially.

According to the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), “Dyslexia is a neurological condition caused by a different wiring of the brain.  There is no cure for dyslexia and individuals with this condition must learn coping strategies.”

The IDA says individuals who experience difficulty in the following areas could be exhibiting signs of dyslexia: learning to speak, learning letters and their sounds, organizing written and spoken language, memorizing number facts, reading quickly enough to comprehend, persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments, spelling, learning a foreign language, and correctly doing math problems.

In spite of these challenges, dyslexia and intelligence are not connected. In fact, many people with dyslexia are creative, bright, and have accomplished amazing things as adults.  Since there is no cure for dyslexia, it is important to have the disorder identified early, receive appropriate teaching methods, and learn coping mechanisms as early as possible.

Often, students do not get the real help they need. My wife, Sharon, is a former special education teacher and has tutored and taught students in our hometown who struggle with reading. Many had been diagnosed with a learning disability, but dyslexia was not actually specified. In fact, it is crucial to recognize that dyslexia may be present in order to receive appropriate treatment. These students were usually passed year by year with no real help. As she says, “The teachers cared, but didn't have the knowledge about dyslexia, the expertise on what to do, or the time (students need one on one or very small group instruction over years to remediate).”

As a tutor, Sharon worked with one particular young lady who was caught up in a generational cycle of illiteracy; yet, she knew the child was bright and capable. Using appropriate methods, the child did learn. This experience led her to promise she would do what she could to help all children face the challenge of learning to read and achieve. In her research and work on this important issue, Sharon found a gap between research and implementation of reforms in educating dyslexic students.

The first line of defense is a program based on proven research in reading that can be used for all children.  For children still struggling, they need to be identified and given specialized instruction delivered by someone trained in a dyslexia program. Along the way, the child should receive the help he or she needs, instead of waiting for him or her to fail and then placing the child in special education. As the month continues, I will be posting more about dyslexia and what can be done to help the dyslexic achieve success.