Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What happened after the After School Special?

If you are dyslexic, your eyes work fine, your brain works fine, but there is a little short circuit in the wire that goes between the eye and the brain. Reading is not a fluid process. --Bruce Jenner

Sculpture at the Dyslexia Discovery Centre

As you all know, I work at a library.  I'm an avid reader.  I LOVE to read, so this job is a perfect fit for me.  Since I figured out how the reading process worked in 1st grade, I've been reading.  I love to help people find books.  I love turning people on to the joys of reading.  I love my role in turning non-readers into readers.

Dyslexia affects 1 in five people.  That's a lot.  I'm not sure why I haven't heard more about it in recent years.  When I was a kid, there was the after school special featuring the Phoenix brothers where one of them struggled with dyslexia and waited for it's diagnosis.  I knew a few kids with dyslexia.  Of course, it's all pretty vague now; but it seems like they got help in school.

I have a friend whose daughter has been diagnosed with dyslexia in the past year.  Marianne is passionate about education.  With a degree in elementary education and a passion for reading you would think her kids would not face any difficulties in school.  Wrong.  Her daughter had struggled for years with undiagnosed dyslexia.  Finally, in 4th grade her teacher felt that there might be a learning disability-- maybe dyslexia. With a little research, Marianne found that Megan had many of the classic symptoms of dyslexia.  And the road to diagnosis began.

As things are now, there really aren't any resources available in the school for dealing with dyslexia.  We all understand the lack of funding available, and it's become much less expensive to get these children onto ADHD medication than to take an actual look at where their problems with learning may be coming from.  It's a shame; and it needs to be brought back to attention.  We had the After School Special about dyslexia, but how much has it been talked about in the past few years?  We all know about ADD/ADHD, but we seem to have forgotten all about dyslexia.  Where's the mass media attention for that?

Here's what I found on the Minnesota Department of Education website:

The symptoms of dyslexia do not occur either from a lack of intelligence or from lack of desire to learn, but researchers have not yet identified the exact causes. As is the case for most disorders, there is a continuum of the effects of the disorder ranging from mild to severe. In order for a child with a diagnosis of dyslexia to be eligible for special education services, a school evaluation team, including the parents, must make a determination that the disability severely impacts school performance, and the student must meet the eligibility criteria found in MN Rule 3525.1341. A child with a diagnosis of dyslexia may, in this case, be eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Acts (IDEA) 1997 and Minnesota Rule 3525.1341.

and a little further on:

Please note: A diagnosis of "dyslexia" does not automatically mean eligibility for special education.  The determination of eligibility for special education is a team process and includes parents (Please refer to the chart entitled, "Special Education Process and Dyslexia").

Wow, hats off to anyone dealing with a learning disability.  There are a lot of hoops to jump through in order to get help in school.  If your child is dyslexic, they have probably come up with some very creative ways to compensate for it.  Even if your child DOES qualify for special education, the teachers are often not trained in the specific type of instruction that the dyslexic student needs. 

If you're in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area and would like to learn more about dyslexia, there is a FREE dyslexia presentation with Susan Barton on Sunday, September 25th, from 2:00 to 5:00 at the Sawmill Inn.  Susan Barton is trained in seven different Orton-Gillingham based programs and teaches several graduate-level courses through the University of San Diego.  This program is sponsored by Great Minds Tutoring Service of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  Click here to sign up.  I hope that anyone and everyone who works with children or has children in their life will find time to attend this seminar.

"My learning disabilities pushed me to discover talents that I wasn't aware of having.  It has also led me to develop products to help others who struggled through school as I did." ~~ Reyn Geyer, (inventor of Nerf balls & Twister, among other things)

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