I feel like Dyslexia is the new BIG topic in the education and medical world, but in all reality, Dyslexia has always been here.
The awareness of Dyslexia first began in the late 19th century (1878). Adolph Kussmaul, a German Neurologist, took interest in adults who had difficulty reading and also suffered from neurological impairments. Dr. KKussmaul noticed that his patients could not read properly and would often use words in the wrong order. He called this “Word Blindness”.
In 1887 Dr. Rudolf Berlin, a German Opthomalogist, was the first to use the term “Dyslexia” in place of “Word Blindness”. Dyslexia comes from the Greek meaning ‘difficulty with words’. The first case to be reported was in 1896.
Dyslexia has been seen under the umbrella of medical diagnoses and treatments since it first was discovered. However, since the late twentieth century, this concept of children with specific literacy difficulties is no longer being considered under the jurisdiction of medicine. Educational and psychological research is broadening the understanding and refining concepts of child development.
Recently, within the last 5-8 years, there has been a huge movement from parents and Dyslexia specific organizations to make this disorder and other related disorders (Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia) a recognized disability within the education world in order to receive best practice reading teaching approaches, accommodations/modifications, and special education support. Their efforts have really changed the course of how schools respond to those with Dyslexia and other Reading Impairments and I say, good. Teachers now are getting the training they need to help all struggling readers. School districts now have to provide professional development to teachers, therapists, and other related staff on what it is and how to teach to it. School districts are now required to go find those students that they suspect may have a reading impairment such as Dyslexia.
In Missouri, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has created a Dyslexia task group to help support school districts, parents and students. You can find information about HERE about it. Probably my favorite thing from this site is the Serving Students At-Risk for Dyslexia Guidance for LEA’s 20-page resource document. It really provides educators and parents a step by step guide on what a school district’s responsibility is on finding and serving students who have reading impairments. It also boasts a professional development document that has 15 links for online videos, pieces of training, and different books or articles. Click HERE to access.
The question is now, what do we do? We’ve been giving the tools on what Dyslexia is, how to screen in the school and some “recommendations” on how to teach to it. But how can we really and truly help these kids? Well, we take those recommended practices and we become experts in them. There are TONS of supports out there for educators (see PD document above). Curriculums such as the Barton System, Sonday System, Wilson Reading System, PALS, and Pathways are just a few that districts can use. Additionally, there are a TON of websites out there that offer reading intervention approaches and FREE downloads including Intervention Central, FCRR, and Reading Rockets.
Parents there are supports for you too! The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity has an AMAZING site for parents seeking advice, feel-good stories from other parents, and tools you can download for free. The International Dyslexia Association provides parents with a 12-page download on Dyslexia including seeking a diagnosis, working with school districts and therapists, and working with your child at home. It really is a user-friendly document. Click the IDA picture to access.
Nessy.com is a great website for parents & educators to gain a variety of information including online teaching strategies and videos that make learning fun. Lastly, the Learning Disabilities Association or LDA is an all-inclusive and very comprehensive website that covers every disability and everything in-between. You can spend hours on the website so pace yourself.
Parents, if you suspect your child has Dyslexia, however, aren’t for sure, you can always seek testing from either a doctor, a psychologist or someone who is specifically trained in this area. At this point, school districts WILL NOT test for Dyslexia. Dyslexia testing at KWT&S includes a very comprehensive assessment plan and an in-depth look into a child’s learning background. Testing includes phonological processing skills, phonemic awareness knowledge, phonics, reading fluency skills, and vocabulary & language understanding/knowledge. If this is something you are interested in learning more about for your child, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the Contact Form.