Dyslexia awareness and why it matters

In June of 2013, I told you about HB 97 to make October Dyslexia Awareness Month in Ohio. The act was signed in to law by the governor and effective January 30, 2014. See which representatives and senators signed on to HB 97 by clicking here.

Dyslexia is a brain-based learning disability that impairs a person’s ability to read. Common characteristics of a person with dyslexia include difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and rapid visual-verbal responding.

- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

dyslexia is real

Frequently, people hear about awareness months and blow them off as having little meaning. Sure, there are some awareness days and months we could do without, but not this one. Dyslexia is something that many are not even aware of when working with children in school, and we have to make sure that teachers, care-givers, parents, administrators and even doctors are looking for the signs.

Why does Dyslexia Awareness Month matter?

In our schools today, students learn with what is called the “whole language” or “whole word” method, and most students are no longer taught phonics. This change happened long before common core was introduced. If you are dyslexic and mix up letters as you read, you cannot learn to read in our schools. Dyslexic students need to be taught to learn to read with phonics, but usually they are not diagnosed until late elementary or middle school grades.

In addition, many in our prisons cannot read because they are dyslexic and were never diagnosed properly or helped. As we know, if someone cannot learn to read, they cannot survive in today’s economy. If you view this simply from an economic perspective, it costs less for us to catch a dyslexic child early in life than to have him or her graduate from high school — if that even happens — and end up on the welfare roll, all because the person never learned to read.

Overall, 10-20% of the population is dyslexic. Among our students in Ohio, as many as 300,000 have dyslexia. These individuals need to be helped as children, and through creating awareness for teachers, aides, tutors, parents and family members, we can help to make sure that all of our state’s children can learn to read. The earlier we diagnose the problem and help the child, the greater the chance of helping that child become a successful, productive adult who can contribute to our society in a positive way.

As we prepare for Dyslexia Awareness Month coming up in October, connect with the dyslexia networks in your school district to see how you can help. If you live in the Ohio House district I represent and/or the Olentangy School District, learn more about the Olentangy Dyslexia Network.

I am extremely passionate about helping our children and improving our education system. If you ever have any ideas or suggestions, please just contact me.

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