Alabama is not one of the nine states with dyslexia laws for all public education schools, despite knowing that dyslexia impacts 20 percent of children in the U.S. It is just now starting to make headlines with several mayors signing proclamations for October as Dyslexia Awareness Month; as did Gov. Bob Riley in October 2009.
In my past two years of researching dyslexia, I was happy to see coverage of dyslexia in the following: Birmingham Magazine, September 2008, a dyslexic boy attends Spring Valley School in Birmingham and finally excels in high school because of the “LD-learning differently” way they teach; and in The Birmingham News, on June 4, 2009, where Vestavia Hills city and Oxford city schools are in contract with a dyslexia specialist, Shonda Guthrie, to train their teachers on how to recognize and teach kids with dyslexia.
It makes me wonder if the Alabama Department of Education (both public schools and colleges of education) has even paid close attention to the articles mentioned above to realize that maybe there needs to be a change in the way early childhood education is being taught.
Does the Alabama Reading Initiative cover techniques for dyslexic students? Are accredited private K4 and K5 programs aware of how to recognize and teach students who may be dyslexic?
How many other children are suffering? For JT, it took personal money and two to four years of outside tutoring to finally get him at his grade level reading, which finally happened this summer.
What about children who may be from homes where they do not have the extra money and time? Could this be the reason some kids are a discipline problem at school because they are having trouble keeping afloat with memorizing their school work?
Do they become angry and embarrassed when they can not read past the third or fourth grade reading level? Are drugs used to forget the pain of learning differently? Is it true that a majority of people in prison are dyslexic?
Could this be one of the problems with Alabama’s dropout rate? (I could see this as an option because just with JT’s fourth-grade spelling words, I gave up many times after countless hours and days of studying. I just told him to do the best he could, and that he would not be grounded if he failed the spelling test).
Are kids in school today judged too critically for not making As and Bs, when they may be giving it all they have?
What can society do? What can I do to help JT? Be aware of dyslexia! Look for signs early on in K5 through second grade and get help then when their brains are still in the “learning stages.”
Seek professional help (sorry, it is not available in public schools just yet). Be patient as one particular type of learning may not work best for your child.
Also, the older the child, the harder it will be to re-teach him or her in the way their brains actually learn.