Learning disability can have dramatic impact on lives
By Barbara Pierce
Dyslexia is a learning disability that causes problems with reading, spelling, writing and sometimes math.
Kids with dyslexia are often labeled as slow learners.
Though dyslexia impacts learning, it has nothing to do with intelligence. Kids with this issue are just as smart as everyone else; their brain just functions differently. Boys and girls have it equally.
“It doesn’t go away; you don’t get over it,” stressed Martin. “It’s a lifelong issue. You learn strategies to get around it; you learn to manage.”
Dyslexia has degrees of severity, so symptoms may differ from one child to another.
It’s mainly a problem with reading accurately and fluently. Kids with dyslexia may have trouble answering questions about something they’ve read. But when it’s read to them, they may have no difficulty at all.
“The predisposition to have dyslexia is hereditary,” explained Martin.
People sometimes believe dyslexia is a visual issue. They think it is reversing letters or writing backwards. But dyslexia is not a problem with vision or with seeing letters in the wrong direction. It’s more a problem of matching letters to sounds.
Having a different way of learning is extremely frustrating for kids; they endure severe difficulties and demoralization daily. Other kids make fun of them as they struggle. “I just couldn’t get it, no matter how hard I tried,” one girl said online of being in second grade. “It hurts my mind,” one teenager says of the many hours each day she must spend doing homework. Another said: “I pretended I was sick. I was so far behind I didn’t want to go to school.”
Children left with untreated dyslexia often suffer devastating consequences. It is the No. 1 reason teenagers drop out of school and is a primary factor in juvenile delinquency. Research reveals that children with untreated dyslexia can become underachieving adults unable to contribute to society at their fullest capacity.
It is, however, treatable. Children with dyslexia need professional help, and the earlier they get it, the better their chances of success in school.
Third grade is critical in a child’s life, Martin said. Up to then, they’ve been learning to read. In third grade, they begin to read to learn.
“In third grade, off you go! If you have difficulty reading, you hit a wall,” Martin said.
Children who don’t learn to read successfully in second grade are on the path to becoming high school dropouts.
“Though one in five school children struggles with dyslexia, New York state is reluctant to deal with it,” Martin added. “We’re encouraging schools to get proactive.”
“We’re here to help,” she said of the Children’s Dyslexia Center that provides free tutoring for children with dyslexia and also trains tutors — all without charge.
“As long as we can do it for free, we will,” Martin said. “We tutor kids in Central New York from First grade to high school seniors.”
Dyslexia tutoring that is clinically proven is provided free of charge.
The center also provides accredited training to become a certified trainer, also at no charge. To enter the program, a bachelor’s degree is required. The program offers four years of training, in the classroom and in supervised practice.
Symptoms of dyslexia vary according to your child’s age. If you are concerned about your child, there are many good online resources.
One is www.Understood.org., which even offers a simulation of what it is like for a child with dyslexia.
Do read the book “Overcoming Dyslexia,” by Sally Shaywith, Martin recommends. “It’s excellent,”
For concerned parents, tutors can be hired to provide help privately. The center has a list of certified tutors if parents wish to hire a tutor.
Get help if you suspect your child has dyslexia, Martin urges. “Help is life changing. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There are ways to help,” she said.
It costs approximately $5,000 to tutor one child for one year; most children require two years of tutoring.
The nonprofit Children’s Dyslexia Center relies almost entirely on donations to operate. To make a donation, visit its website at http://cnyclc.org/cnyclc/, or call 315-736-0574.
There are three major fundraisers every year — a walkathon on Sept. 23, a gala in March and a golf tournament in August.
Volunteers support the center in many ways. To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit the website or call.
Experts say to read aloud to your children and choose stories that play into his or her passion.
This is helpful to any child, but especially one with dyslexia.
Martin wants people to know that, though it’s a life-long issue, children with dyslexia can become strong readers, strong learners, and can succeed in school and in life.
For more information on the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Central New York, see http://cnyclc.org/cnyclc/ or call 315-736-0574.