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Aiming for Access
June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.
15 "Headstrong Nation" Facts Aim to Improve Dyslexia Acceptance, Ways of Some Teachers
Headstrong Nation's "Learn The Facts" sheet underpins current thinking by this national advocacy group of adult dyslexics and parents. The goal is to achieve greater understanding and acceptance of the challenges and strengths of those who struggle to read due to this neurologically-based learning difference.
References to education often fail to flatter teachers. The group's conclusions likely arise from shared experiences that brought members together. The list below offers the facts with chosen quotes. The full text is on the "Learn The Facts" page.
Fact 1: Shame is the challenge of dyslexia
Excerpt: "The key to success as a dyslexic person is to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and be comfortable talking about all of them, not trying to hide who you are from the world."
Fact 2: Dyslexia is not caused by bad parenting
Excerpt: "Dyslexia is like your child’s height. Yes, your genes played a large role in it, but your actions did not do anything to cause it. And if you can find the sources of those dyslexia genes in the family, you can begin to create a community that will make you or your child feel less alone."
Fact 3: 35% of American entrepreneurs are dyslexic.
Excerpt: "Dyslexia is a brain-based, genetic profile that makes reading and spelling difficult. It is often associated with stupidity or laziness, and it is our work to show just how unfair and incorrect this correlation is. Related research shows that these entrepreneurs achieve faster growth rates for their companies."
Fact 4: Being dyslexic does not mean that you are stupid, lazy or a "retard"
Excerpt: "As ignorant as this statement may sound, 80% of teachers associate the term learning disability with mental retardation."
Fact 5: There are many different ways to read.
Excerpt: "There are three types of reading. That's right, three. Eye-reading, ear-reading, and finger-reading."
Fact 6: If your child is dyslexic, it's better to tell her
Excerpt: "The more proof and context you give a child on dyslexia, the happier he will become."
Fact 7: Dyslexia is not something you outgrow
Excerpt: "He'll learn to read just like everybody else. You just need to give it a few months. This is one of the most frequent retorts that people who are either unfamiliar with dyslexia, or those intentionally trying to delay your access to services will use to rebuff your requests for help."
Fact 8: Dyslexia is a disability in some contexts
Excerpt: "Many people will resist using the word disability to describe dyslexia. Yes, the term learning disability is not particularly attractive. The real issue is the use of the word learning. We dyslexics do have a disability, but it is related to reading text, not to learning."
Fact 9: Talking about dyslexia has long-term benefits
Excerpt: "You or your child will be much happier if you can get over the notion that dyslexia is best kept a secret."
Fact 10: Using non-text-based learning is a ramp into a book
Excerpt: "Visit our Tools section to see videos on how to incorporate non-text-based learning into your or your child's life."
Fact 11: Dyslexia happens in all countries and cultures
Excerpt: "Do not let people convince you that this is some American invention that is the result of stressed-out parents or our particular school system."
Fact 12: Providing accommodations to dyslexics in the classroom does not lower standards
Excerpt: "When you tell the teacher or those test makers that a spelling quiz or timed multiple choice test is not a good measure of a person’s potential for doing great work, they can become very rigid."
Fact 13: Dyslexics are not broken
"The written word is irrelevant. What is relevant is the word itself, be it spoken, rendered in Braille, or synthesized into speech by a computer."
Fact 14: Dyslexia is not a gift or curse
Excpert: "Don’t try to gloss over the challenges that come with dyslexia. Not being able to eye-read well is a real problem in mainstream society. The dyslexia itself is neither a curse nor a gift. It is just a trait."
Fact 15: Boys and girls are just as likely to be dyslexic
Excerpt: "It is true that there are more boys in special ed for dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities, but this is because boys who are frustrated by their difficulty in school tend to act out, and girls tend to clam up."
The website suggests actions that parents can take. Read about them:
When students with dyslexia and other print disabilities struggle in school, there is a free and federally-funded service that provides alternatives to traditional textbooks and trade books. In the Commonwealth, AIM-VA and its partners (Learning Ally, Bookshare, DBVI) supply educational materials in 12 different formats that meet the needs of eligible students. There are similar services in each state. To learn more, start on the AIM-VA homepage. In other states, ask a special education teacher or school administrator how a child can be considered for AEM, (formerly AIM) services.
Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.