It is extremely important to advocate for yourself or for a dyslexic as dyslexia is an invisible disability.
The International Dyslexic Association defines dyslexia as follows:
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002.
Many people do not like to be told that they have a neurological disability as there are a lot of misunderstandings and bias.
Since October is Dyslexic Awareness Month, I want to clarify misunderstandings and end biases of dyslexia.
When you meet a person with a visible disability do you judge them for not seeing well or wearing glasses? I don't and I hope you don't either.
fMRI scans show that a dyslexic brain is organized differently than non-dyslexic brains. This causes learning and carrying out tasks that require reading and spelling to take longer for a dyslexic to process. Are you going to make fun of them just because they have difficulty reading fluently?
Dyslexic people can have a low to high IQ. Einstein had an IQ of 160 and he was dyslexic. Think of other intelligent people: Steve Jobs, Steven Spielburg, Nicola Tesla, Jennifer Aniston, Ingvar Kamprad, Leonardo da Vinci... These are just some famous dyslexics. Do you still think that having dyslexia means being stupid? If you do, read this paragraph again and again until you realize dyslexia does not equal stupid.
Dyslexics just need to read more and then they will be fine. Making a dyslexic reader read a lot will not help them become a better reader. They need specialized instructions for them to build on their phonemic awareness skills. Practicing of these skills will allow them to remember and apply while reading. Once they have a good understanding they will be able to enjoy reading. Advocate for more time to read and to write tests.
A diagnosis will not do any good. A friend of mine was sick and she went to the doctor who said a diagnosis would not do her any good. Can you believe this? I hope not, as it was a story that I made up to show that a diagnosis is deserving. When I was told that my 11 year-old daughter was dyslexic I told her. Her shoulders relaxed and relief came across her face as she said, "You mean I'm not stupid?" She deserved to know for her understanding of why reading and spelling (among other things) was difficult for her. She was then able to advocate for herself. Her newest Language Arts teacher was impressed as my daughter told her that she had dyslexia. The teacher then knew why my daughter was asking for help to read some instructions, to spell some words, and for reading somewhat slowly. The most important reasons for why a diagnosis is so important as it allows people to find out how to overcome dyslexia.
Dyslexics can learn to read in large classes. Dyslexics can overcome dyslexia with specialized instructions. They will be dyslexic for life, but learning skills will allow them to cope. Take my daughter for example, she was reading at a grade one level when she was half way done grade six. I studied the Orton-Gillingham approach and taught her the skills that she needed (the way she needed to be taught). She is now very close to grade level reading. My daughter's teachers were very good, but they did not have the time to teach her one-on-one. Advocate for proper instruction that is one-on-one.
Please comment on why advocating is important or ask questions.