Why October Dyslexia Awareness Month is Important

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. 

Reader Pen by C-Pen

Reader Pen by C-Pen

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. 

National Read a Book Day

In Honor of National Read a Book Day, I am dedicating this blog post to Dr. Mary Wakefield.   When I met Dr. Wakefield, I was in fourth grade reading at a first-grade level.  One of her strategies was to convince my mother to purchase books that I wanted to read and then say nothing. 

If the books sat in my room for days or weeks, let them sit.  Dr. Wakefield understood early, that if a dyslexic student has a strong interest in a subject, they will find a way to consume the information. 

Reader Pen

Reader Pen

My mother listened to her advice. With each Scholastic Book order, a stream of books on the topics of weather, hurricanes, tornados, along with a selection of biographies arrived.  Quietly in my room, I sat next to my bed and explored these new treasures.   For the next two years, I spent my summers working with Dr. Wakefield and helping her graduate students become skilled dyslexia teachers. During this time, my reading fluency increased two grade levels.

By sixth grade, the knowledge gained from reading dozens of books, became evident as my grades in history, science and language arts improved.  Along with better grades, my reading fluency continued to improve while I had developed a healthy reading appetite which is now a bit of an obsession. 

National Read a Book Day is also the day of empowerment for dyslexics, as, with each book we read, we gain knowledge and confidence. 

Reading is a skill, and just like any other skill, daily practice and engagement helps improve overall reading fluency.

National Read a Book Day Advise to Help Your Dyslexic Child or Student

Dyslexia Help - University of Michigan

  • Allow the child or student to select a book they wish to read (age appropriate).
  • Promise to always purchase books and magazines, even comic books in areas of their interest.  Think about it?  Do you read books or magazines that bore you? Probably not, unless the material is required reading for work.
  • Allow them personal space to read at their own pace.  Chances are your child or student is picking up the book or magazine when no one is looking.  Remember, the book topics need to align with their passions and interests.
  • Make sure the book is at a comfortable reading level while challenging enough to provide a reading balance.
  • Determine if assistive tech can help and if needed purchase a handheld text-to-read scanner, like C-Pen Reader Pen.  Personally, I still believe printed books and magazines are the best choice.

Here’s another idea to help students improve their reading fluency, let them become the author of their own books.  My son is dyslexic and when he was having a difficult time in first and second grade, I purchased sketch books, stickers, colors, and markers.  He created short stories using Star Wars and truck stickers.  When he was finished, it was his turn to read at night.  He loved creating stories and then sharing his books.

At Scanning Pens, we love receiving stories about how our products C-Reader Pen and C-Pen Exam Reader help dyslexic students.  Please share with us, your child’s or student’s favorite books, where they enjoy reading, and favorite authors.