My Introduction to Dyslexia

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

I have become, by default, a ‘professional judge’ for local Literature Fairs. In our public-school system, a literature fair is held to encourage book and poetry reading, while giving presenter’s their three-to-five minutes oral presentation to recount details of their reading selection.

During the recent school-district-level event, my judging partner (a librarian) and I were scoring the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ elements of the entry: Title, check. Author, check. Publisher and date, check. We looked for presence or absence on the display board for the things we were to review and rate.

Then came the student-entrant. She was a teen female, with a certain bounce in her step and a broad smile. After assuring her that we judges did not ordinarily bite — unless provoked — she chuckled and started her oral presentation. She did quite well in summarizing the content of her book. Her excitement to tell us about her selected book was palpable and not the product of anxiety over an oral presentation.

Near the end of her recital, she offhandedly said that the subject book, a piece of fiction, was the first book she had ever read from cover to cover. Since she was about 15, the uncontrollable expression on the faces of we judges, had to have been noticeable. She quickly added, “I am dyslexic, and reading is very hard for me.”

I thought: “Oh, my! This half-inch-thick paperback has been her only complete reading “

Since I had no information about her school, and whether there had been effective testing, diagnosis and methods there for dyslexic students, I then decided that I would learn more about the physiology of dyslexia. I have also, unfortunately, learned of the psychological damage as a result of dyslexia and struggling daily for up to 16 or more years in school. A dyslexic’s failure to learn basic skills by usual methods follows the individual for the remainder of life.

National Institutes of Health uses many places of higher learning in this country. and around the world, for empirical research on dyslexia.

Here are a few of their findings:

· Dyslexia impacts 20% of the population. Symptoms may be mild, moderate, severe or profound.

· Dyslexia is sometimes a companion malady with attention-deficit disorders.

· Dyslexia is inherited. A dyslexic parent will, without fail, have a 50–50 chance of passing the genes* to offspring.

Although I can have no impact on the academic life of the bright student I witnessed, giving her passionate presentation on a book and topic she loved, I hope by sharing the link below to inform adults about the ins and outs of dyslexia. As a teacher, I want to be able to recognize the signs and help students avoid the stresses and embarrassment of routinely failing — in an extremely public way — because of undiagnosed dyslexia.

The link: https://www.dys-add.com/index.html

I have no connection whatsoever with Bright Solutions for Dyslexia, but share it as an initial resource for interested readers.

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*Three genes carry the instruction for dyslexia

Reader, blogger, musician and music promoter/event producer. Community activist and educational advocate.

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