Many years ago, as our work in my child’s district began, we believed it would be beneficial to begin bringing a dyslexia simulation experience to our community of parents.
For the first few years, we partnered with the Shelton School to put on a simulation; then, under a new district leader, a simulation was brought to the district and made part of every teacher’s, administrator’s and board member’s professional development.
Our simulation rounds began with parents and a few teachers taking in the experience. As teachers, and all district staff who are interacting with children are trained, a ripple effect begins: they begin to notice the students who struggle, and they begin to understand how to help. Through this process, there have been folks who identified students – even their own children – as experiencing dyslexia. Many parents and teachers begin to understand struggles they faced themselves as youngsters. Usually, there are many tears.
But there is also a large helping of hope as we gather to de-brief. The biggest, most immediate sensation in the room is one of extreme fatigue. The 7-8 stations experienced by the adults wear us out, and we are always asked by the district’s Director of Dyslexia Services: “How do you think your child feels after being at school all day long?”
Together, we process our own feelings, and list ways both we, as parents, or as educators, can help students to manage their dyslexia. How can we communicate with teachers so they understand our child’s struggles? And what specific accommodations might address my own child’s or student’s need?
The collaboration and knowledge of the department, staff, administrators and parents grows together using such a model. It launches opportunities for dialog and action. As in every gathering, we leave feeling armed with more support, more information and more sensitivity. As a parent of a graduated young adult identified and remediated early, I share our son’s challenges as a college student, and his successes. I remember to thank the leadership that “found him,” and the ongoing effort we’ve built to find each and every child.
As parents and educators, you are powerful: be a reading advocate. Share your experience of dyslexia with other adults, and let them know that struggling to read is not a developmental phase, and it can be helped, especially if identified early. Not every instance of struggle is an instance of dyslexia, but indeed – some statistics say as many as 1 of every 5 students has dyslexia. We should not only #saydyslexia, we need to fund and empower a system of support to #FindDyslexia.
This means funding efforts to train educators in identification, support and remediation. This means we have to learn from each other so our knowledge is the “best in class,” as laws and lobbying put dyslexia in the minds and mouths of educators. Most of all, as our simulation and education efforts reveal: we have to experience dyslexia for just one hour to understand the urgency, and begin to feel it, and act.
Here is a report “hot off the social media press,” from our annual simulation meeting – with an amateur photographer’s picture (me being the photographer). For information on how to start your own “Dyslexia Awareness 101″ movement, email us here at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Thursday night, the Dyslexia department presented a Dyslexia Simulation to parents of RISD students identified with dyslexia. Impactful, empathetic and moving, the simulation assists parents in understanding how their children process information and helps them to brainstorm ways to help them through schooling, and in the home. Parents learned how fatiguing a day of school feels to students, and found out that every district teacher and administrator who works with students – as well as the RISD board – has experienced the same simulation. In fact, this department, in conjunction with the Parents Dyslexia Education Group, took this simulation all the way to our Texas State Board of Education. The commitment to our students with dyslexia and related disorders is strong in RISD! Working together, staff and parents can accomplish so very much. Thank you to all the teachers who gave up a part of their evening to share this experience with RISD families. More meetings to follow in this calendar year. Be sure to spread the awareness of dyslexiahttp://www.risd.org/group/departments/Dyslexia.html as you hear of students struggling with reading – together, we can help all kids to learn and thrive.