Monday, October 17, 2011

Dyslexia Awareness Month

It seems that every cause has its day, or its month.  A time in the spotlight when they seek to inform others about something very dear to them.  I learned from Debra Ann Elliot's blog, Words Are Timeless, that this month is time to focus on Dyslexia.  Since dyslexia is a type of learning disability, I decided to pull out a post I wrote a couple of years ago.  Maybe it will help shed some light on this subject.  So here goes. 

Learning disabilities are all over the place! In reality, according to the Natl Inst of Health, about 1 out of 7 of us has them. What the heck is a learning disability anyway? Technically, it is the label applied when a student does not perform at a level consistent with his ability (based on testing) after all extenuating circumstances have been ruled out. In other words, the student is smart and still has a terrible time at school! Many things cause students to “way under perform”. Drug use, family problems, insomnia, frequent moving, death in the family, changing schools frequently, parent in Iraq, divorce, boyfriend breakup, pregnancy and on and on and on.

When a student consistently performs way under what is expected based on his IQ, and none of the above factors are present, it is suspected the student may have a learning disability.  At this point the school will order screening. If this shows a "large" enough difference between his IQ and his actual performance/grades/achievement, further testing will be ordered. If the difference is not “large enough” the school system will not test them. The size of this difference varies among the states. I believe it is 50% in NY if it has not changed recently.

Every student who is under performing does not have a learning disability.  In short, LD students are smart. They must have average, or higher, intelligence in order for the performance to vary enough from their ability to qualify as LD. Whew! If an individual has a low IQ he will struggle in school and he will have lower grades, but he will not have a learning disability. LD is very socially acceptable and often parents, especially affluent ones, want the LD label for their kids. They want the extra services and modifications that the LD student is entitled to. Other parents feel that being in Special Education is a stigma and do not want it.

We hear many famous people had/have a learning disability, such as Susan Boyle, Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, and Gen. Patton and President George Washington. Most certainly all of them did not. What we really know is that they all had trouble in school, for some reason, even though they were extremely brilliant in other areas.

Howard Gardner, author of Multiple Intelligences, says there are 7 areas of intelligence: Verbal, Mathematical, Spatial (Artistic), Musical, Bodily/Kinesthetic (Athletic), Spiritual and Naturalistic. Acknowledge your area of intelligence. Help your child find and acknowledge his. Don’t freak out if it is not the traditional academic area. Too many of us are still feeling "not good enough" because of a school experience without fully recognizing and valuing the gifts we each have.
So as many people put the focus on dyslexia this month, we have the opportunity to learn more about it.  Don't be too quick to claim it.  It is measurable.  It "shows up" in full psychological testing of how we learn.  So just because you often switch numbers or letters, consider slowing down and taking your time before putting yourself in this, or any, category.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hey, you stated in a much more direct way what I was trying to communicate, thanks, I will recommend your site to my friends.

  3. that is such a powerful post on dyslexia! i'm sure it'll help shed some light on this sort of disorder.

    gladly following you back.


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