As a tutor, one of the most common issues that students (or their parents) come to me with is struggling with dyslexia. Dyslexia is the number one learning disability that affects children. For those of you that know little about dyslexia, let me explain what dyslexia is because to be honest, many people are misinformed on the topic. No, it doesn't just mean that dyslexics see backwards because if that were true, we would be able to just hand out mirrors and dyslexia would be solved. And no, not just boys are dyslexic. A pretty even number of both genders is dyslexic.
The simplest definition that I have found online to describe dyslexia is from www.smartkidswithld.org, which states," Dyslexia is in part the result of inefficient phonological processing—the ability to sort out, analyze, and sequence sounds heard in spoken language."
It is important to know that dyslexia, as with all learning disabilities, it is a neurological problem.
Fortunately, thanks to lots of medical research lately, Yale has concluded that the dyslexic person has "a disruption of left-hemisphere posterior neural system," which provides irrefutable evidence that dyslexia does exist. A dyslexic person has a "normal, healthy brain." This just means that the left part of the brain that is responsible for language development, processing information differently. In fact, it's this unique process that many people believe has led to dyslexics having cognitive and emotional strengths such as great critical thinking, empathy, strong vocabularies, and great out-of-the-box thinking.
Unfortunately, the American Psychiatric Association is recommending that dyslexia, dyscalculia and disorder of written expression not be included in the DSM-5. Psychologists, and in this specific case, School Psychologists use the DSM to diagnose conditions like dyslexia. They are letting the public state their opinions on this decision until June 15th. Please help advocate for dyslexia by signing Yale's petition by Dr. Sally Shaywitz at http://dyslexia.yale.edu/LegalizeDyslexia.html to help make sure that Congress legalizes dyslexia. Many people do not have access to the testing that they need to get the help that they deserve. Every American deserves the right to be able to read well. Without the ability to read, students will not graduate and our economic strength will continue to dwindle. Everyone is complaining about dropout rates. Here is our chance to help put an end to rising high school dropout rates. I know all too well how many kids get frustrated with learning because they were not properly diagnosed at a young age with a learning disability and never received the services that could've helped them. I urge everyone that hasn't signed the online petition to visit the link above so "testing agencies grant accommodations for dyslexic students so that high stakes tests assess ability and not disability, and students are allowed to go forward and succeed in life. High stakes tests must be reliable, valid and accessible to dyslexic children and adults. Without accommodations, highly capable, intelligent students are being denied the opportunity to show what they can achieve and contribute to society.
We support a much-needed Bill of Rights for Dyslexic Children and Adults, that affirms the following:
- Accommodations required so that high stakes tests assess ability and not disability
- High stakes tests must be reliable, valid and accessible to dyslexic children and adults
- Dyslexia is real: schools must accept the diagnosis of dyslexia
- Dyslexia is a Clinical Diagnosis
- Diagnosis/Identification reflects that it is an unexpected difficulty
- Instruction is evidence-based (proven to be effective)
- Dyslexia is persistent, no need to retest after high school"
Some great dyslexic resources on the web are www.ncld.org, www.dyslexia.yale.edu, and www.ldonline.org.