SCUSD Community Advisory Committee Hosts Presentation on Dyslexia
By Sara Yoders
At their Oct. 25 meeting, the Santa Clara Unified School District’s Community Advisory Committee hosted a presentation on Dyslexia.
October is National Dyslexia Month.
Dyslexia as described by the International Dyslexia Association as “a neurological condition caused by a different wiring of the brain. There is no cure for dyslexia and individuals with this condition must learn coping strategies. Research indicates that dyslexia has no relationship to intelligence. Individuals with dyslexia are neither more nor less intelligent than the general population. But some say the way individuals with dyslexia think can actually be an asset in achieving success.”
Dyslexia affects one in five students. It is not fully understood how one gets Dyslexia or the reasons for its severity.
The presentation by Ruth Linton, who is a licensed educational therapist, used scientific evidence to explain Dyslexia and how it affects reading, learning, math and writing skills. She spoke briefly about all areas of Dyslexia, including Dysgraphia (writing) and Dyscalculia (math). Some people have issues just with reading, whether it be phonemic identification to reading comprehension. Others have writing issues, from spelling words correctly to writing organization. Further, some have math issues concerning number identification through operational processes.
Symptoms discussed included phonological awareness, reading and spelling errors, avoiding reading aloud, low reading comprehension and math operational errors. The links below will help discover other symptoms and how to get someone evaluated.
Not every child or adult experiences all of Dyslexia’s symptoms. Some symptoms can be mild enough that they are hardly noticed, while others who experience such severe Dyslexia symptoms that it holds back their true potential. This is a learning disability that one will never “outgrow,” but one that with the correct start and help in the beginning, can be managed.
Decoding Dyslexia California (http://decodingdyslexiaca.org), a grassroots parent organization, set up across the United States, provided a table with informational handouts related to Dyslexia and new California law, which provides clearer guidelines for school districts in identifying, testing and helping students showing symptoms of Dyslexia and needing additional assistance in one or more areas that are deficient.
During discussion after Linton’s presentation, AB 1369, the new California law concerning dyslexia was brought up. This law states that the Superintendent of Instruction, “no later than the beginning of the 2017–18 academic year, program guidelines for dyslexia to be used to assist regular education teachers, special education teachers, and parents to identify and assess pupils with dyslexia, and to plan, provide, evaluate, and improve educational services, as defined, to pupils with dyslexia.”
Prior to the passage of this bill, “phonological processing” was not a part of the evaluation process when determining if a student qualified for services. Now it is considered, which will help “capture” more of the students who are having issues.
Dr. Christopher Gutierrez-Lohrman, Santa Clara Unified School District Special Education Director explained that the district uses three different evidence based reading systems when working with students who qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Not all students will respond to a system used, hence the need for multiple reading systems. If there is no response to any of the offered systems, this is when some are combined or new plans are created to handle the student’s need(s).
Gutierrez-Lohrman went on to explain that the guidelines will help school districts in revising their current assessment procedures, putting all school districts on the same page when it comes to assessing for symptoms of Dyslexia.
School districts are not allowed to diagnose a learning or intellectual disability. However, they are allowed to assess and determine whether a student meets Federal guidelines in receiving services. To obtain a formal diagnosis, children need to been seen by an educational psychiatrist or other individual who is qualified to make this type of diagnosis.
There are many organizations that can help with additional information regarding Dyslexia. If you suspect your child or yourself are showing symptoms of Dyslexia, visit these websites to become more informed and prepared for a brighter future.
International Dyslexia Association
Decoding Dyslexia CA
Parents Helping Parents
Dyslexia – symptoms
Learning Disabilities Association of America