Dyslexia is invisible. We cannot see how the unique wiring impacts each individual nor can we see the brilliance that lies beneath the surface of misspelled words, word retrieval misfires, and slow reading times.
The invisibility creates a false sense of reality. On the surface, a student’s learning abilities may appear to be sufficient, when in fact the student is struggling in every class. The student becomes increasing disengaged as they do not understand the material given to them nor can they complete their class assignments.
Being behind your peers, unable to read, write or spell, I believe is one of the most stressful feelings you can have as a student. We receive questions and inquires on why our work is not completed. We don't know why; therefore, we are unable to provide an answer which only creates more frustration.
I remember, as if it was yesterday, being in second grade overwhelmed and frustrated. I was two grade levels behind my peers and could barely spell the simplest of words. My handwriting was all over the page which compounded the problem. Even to this day, I can recall the emotions I felt and how I knew at a gut level, something was wrong.
In third grade, my teacher was a graduate student obtaining her dyslexia/reading specialist certificate. She recommended that I be tested for dyslexia. Finally, a name was given to my frustrations. I was relieved to know it was not my fault.
Teachers and educators can profoundly change their students’ lives in many ways. Every time, I write and speak on the topic of dyslexia, I mention to two teachers who forever changed my life - Mrs. King and Dr. Wakefield. They understood the importance of testing students for dyslexia.
They Understood that Awareness is Everything for a Dyslexic Student.
For millions of students and adults who are still undiagnosed, awareness is the difference between receiving help or not. The difference between gaining the essential intervention that can help them achieve their full potential or a lifetime of frustration without ever knowing why.
Only when we have awareness can we solve a problem or assist a student who needs intervention and accommodations. Without awareness and testing, students will continue to encounter learning challenges.
Dyslexia is unique in that it is invisible, brilliant, and frustrating all at the same time. Digital tools designed for individuals with dyslexia help reduce many of the language processing frustrations we encounter every day. I think about how much spell check has changed my life and provided an independence from constantly asking peers how to spell words.
Today, we have handheld devices that can read to us, check the dictionary meaning and scan notes. We have access to multiple software programs that perform a range of tasks from checking for dyslexia mistakes to audio dictation of reports, emails, and digital messages.
We must have awareness first, testing second for progress to occur. Only then, can these amazing technologies be used to their full potential and reduce the learning challenges encountered by dyslexics.
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month in the United States. We are working to increaseawareness, ensure all students are tested, and have access to digital technology so that they can reach their full potential.