Dyslexia. A word that often is used in a playful term. But what it is defined as? “A general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.” Often found in children in elementary school, it can often be treated with extra tutoring. What about the children who don’t receive this extra help? Or better yet, what happens to these children who are never diagnosed and grow up struggling? What can be done to help or prevent this? A simple answer, raise awareness. And how do we raise this awareness? Bring facts and testimonies.
According to The Dyslexia Center of Utah, “One in five students, or 15-20% of the population, has a language based learning disability. Dyslexia is the most common of the language based learning disabilities.” (Dyslexia Center of Utah Statistics) When I was in kindergarten, I was one of the top students. So much so, my teacher wanted me to move up to a 1st grade level. My parents wanted me to stay with my friends, and decided to keep me in kindergarten. Once I got into 1st grade, everything changed. I had a difficult time understanding information, my teacher, Miss Austin, wasn’t fond of me, and never thought that I was simply not paying attention and didn’t attempt to help me. Even when my parents confronted her with my short comings, she claimed she knew what she was doing, and that I “wasn’t trying hard enough”. This wasn’t the last time I heard that sentence.
“74% of children with dyslexia who are not diagnosed by the 2nd grade remain so into adulthood.” (Dyslexia Center of Utah Facts) Throughout the rest of my educational life, through five different school, elementary through middle school through high school, I was never diagnosed with Dyslexia. I didn’t learn that I had this disability until I was well into adulthood. By then, I was told by many educators, that there was nothing that could be done for me.
“For some individuals who have never been diagnosed, dyslexia is a hidden disability which may result in underemployment, difficulty navigating academic environments, difficulty on the job, and reduced self-confidence.” (International Dyslexia Association) My personal struggle with dyslexia has resulted in similar outcomes as listed. I often felt that I was a Neanderthal because I wasn’t learning or understanding material in work environments that often lead to being reprimanded and being treated poorly. Simply because I wasn’t given the tools or help I needed. And I am not the only adult or student that is facing this same issue.
A family friend’s daughter has been diagnosed with Dyslexia and is currently in her 11th year in High School. She was discovered and properly diagnosed and has received help through tutors and educators. Unfortunately, due to Common Core, many of her educators now refuse to give her the proper assistance in specific courses, mostly math, because it would require changing how the material is taught to other students. In turn telling her, “She needs to try harder.”
Recently, I made a discovery through The International Dyslexic Association, that in 2013 there was a bill being considered by Utah Legislation bill number UT HB0171 titled Dyslexia Screenings in Public Schools. Its Progress is now listed under “Dead/Failed/Vetoed”. Why? Why would a bill that could lead to helping children fail? From what I was able to find through what the bill stated. It was found “unnecessary” to pass, because “Utah Schools already have a system to screen for Dyslexia.” There may be students that are screened for dyslexia, but what about those students, like me? What are educators doing now to help these forgotten students?
Now, there are debates about this ongoing question for parents and adults with dyslexia. There are many saying that Utah educators need to be taught more about how to help children with dyslexia and with finding new methods of identifying children that have this learning impediment. Other’s are saying that the only way to address it is to find it early on, and that is all that is needed.
If you ask me, it needs to be made aware of how having dyslexia is and what how we can fix it. It needs to be treated with a different kind of care versus just being placed in a reading group. Therefore, meaning that there needs to be more studies done on dyslexia and more education. Luckily, there is a group started by parents that have dyslexic kids here in Utah to help raise awareness and call for action for understanding dyslexia. Here is a link to their website: http://www.decodingdyslexiautah.org/
Dyslexia doesn’t mean that a child is “slow” or “unteachable” or “uneducated”. It means that we learn things differently. Our brains are wired differently than the standard human being. Interestingly enough, many of the people who are known as the most influential people in the world have Dyslexia. Here is a few:
- Albert Einstein
- Thomas Edison
- Leonardo DaVinci
- Caitlyn Jenner
- Walt Disney
- Whoopi Goldberg
- Scott Fitzgerald
We are not “dumb”. We are not “slow”. We are smart, and we do understand, we just learn differently. And we should NOT be left behind because of it. Again, I ask, what can be done to help bring change to help students and in the end, the adults they become? Awareness. This is how we bring change to the world, awareness.
Dyslexia Center of Utah: website: https://www.dyslexiacenterofutah.org/dyslexia/statistics/
International Dyslexia Association: website: https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-test/
Goals and Choices
The hope that The Dyslexia Understanding accomplishes, is to bring attention to how Dyslexia is viewed and to bring awareness. The way that Utah Schools handle Dyslexia is sloppy and non-existent, and it needs to change. My major goals to accomplish this change is to bring out the struggles that an adult has with never being discovered with Dyslexia in school and what they now must cope and live with. Another goal is to locate what the Utah Educators are doing to look for students with Dyslexia and how. The hopes of bringing out these potential discoveries are to give hope to adults and parents that there is change on the horizon for their children.
The rhetoric choices that I chose to use for my piece is Storytelling, Description, and Imagery with Claims of Fact and Value. I started out with telling my story. I want to give my audience a glimpse into what my life was like when I was growing up. From 1st grade till I graduated. Giving more detailed accounts of my struggles and creating an image for who I am now. I then applied the same strategies for my friend’s daughter. It gives another account as to what is potentially happening to students throughout the Utah Schools. After sharing this, I went into Claims of Fact and Value. I began to research through organizations that study and help people (Families, Adults, Children) who suffer from Dyslexia. I found results of studies of what happens to students who aren’t discovered and what becomes of them. I found bills that were created to help find students easier that were killed, and I found what is currently happening in communities to bring awareness to Dyslexia. In the end awareness is what I wish to bring to my audience.
The reason I chose these specific purposes and goals, is I believe that these methods are effective, and they can bring hope and understanding to what my piece is bringing to the table. I didn’t have any other project ideas, only because this is one that has been with me for a long time. My first free write for this class, I wrote about my struggle with dyslexia. I cried while I wrote. I didn’t forget how I felt, and I wanted to address it. There are many great things that need to be changed in the world. Yet, helping the children that will lead to world tomorrow, we need to insure their education, and their needs, if we hope and expect great things from them. Otherwise, they can potentially go through what I went through. Never knowing why, they don’t understand as others do, struggle with finding work, and to look in the mirror wondering why they are so dumb, when you know you’re not. They can be given the chance, that many of us, like me, didn’t get. This is why I chose this topic for my final project, Dyslexia is more common than one thinks, an there are many who suffer from it.