The Hannah School is one of the community programs offered through Hannah Institute, a 501 (C)3, nonprofit organization in central Arkansas. Hannah Institute is committed to providing educational resources to the various communities within Arkansas. One of the many programs is the HANNAH School, a private school devoted to dyslexia. Hannah School provides intensive intervention in the areas of reading and math in order to promote academic success in all children. The HANNAH School provides educational support for families and their children with dyslexia throughout Arkansas.
You may say dyslexia is a fad, but the rate of illiteracy in our state and country says otherwise!
While meeting with a parent recently, we were discussing how the dyslexia law was being implemented in her area. She shared with me a conversation she recently had with a school administrator about implementing the law. Apparently this particular administrator stated there would be limited implementation of the law because, "Dyslexia Is Just a Fad.” Oh how I would love to have an opportunity to speak with this administrator.
Now here IS a “fad” I wish would pass…illiteracy. I have searched and searched for information about the literacy skill level of children in Arkansas and for over a decade, the vast majority of children are reading BELOW grade level. We know that the research-based proven methods of instruction that work for a dyslexic child will work with ALL children regardless of the reason they are performing below grade level. You can say dyslexia is a “fad” if you want, that is your prerogative, but the fact of the matter is TOO MANY CHILDREN cannot read on grade level and there is a tremendous amount of research that indicates once behind always behind or your level of literacy competence at the end of 1st grade WILL determine your level of success in 9th grade. So why do we wait?
More food for thought: 30 minutes a day of intense strategic intervention in kindergarten and 1st grade will remediate the vast majority of skill deficits that result in reading failure. However, for the children who go unidentified until 3rd grade and beyond, it takes 2 hours a day, every day, of intensive individual intervention to remediate their reading deficits. Therefore, if we are proactive and preventative, children will avoid academic failure in middle school and beyond because they will have the skills needed to read to learn and therefore, succeed in school and life.
I agree in the beginning, there will be a lot of children that meet the profile of dyslexia that may not be dyslexic. This is because we are failing to teach them the foundation skills critical for reading success using the science of reading. The science of reading explains how the brain processes written information. All three areas of the brain must activate for a child to become a fluent and successful reader. The methods of instruction, balanced literacy and whole language, are not effective. These methods are good for children who have a solid foundation and can successfully encode and decode the sounds and symbols of our language. If you want to separate the children who are demonstrating characteristics of dyslexia, the dyslexics from the non-dyslexics, it is necessary to be proactive and systematically assess the efficiency of the neurological areas responsible for accurately and quickly processing written language. This can be accomplished by identifying all students who are reading and performing below grade level. There are a multitude of factors that influence this difficulty and poor performance, but with intensive, systematic instruction that is incremental and cumulative, EVERY child regardless of poor vocabulary, socioeconomic status, and parental support, WILL LEARN TO READ. This must be accomplished BEFORE the child leaves 2nd grade, because after second grade, children access the academic curriculum because they are required to READ to LEARN. Instruction focused on learning to read stops. We have to provide ALL CHILDREN the right support and intervention. The fact is, regardless if the children are or are not dyslexic, if the student is not reading on grade level that child have limited the options later in life because of the increased risk of academic failure and possible school drop out.
So #saydyslexia and give children the opportunity to live the life they want. Arm ALL CHILDREN with the literacy skills to help them break out of the cycle of poverty so many people are trapped in simply because they cannot read. Frederick Douglass said it best, "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." Call dyslexia a fad if you want, but we have been failing children for too many years. We continue to use instructional methods that do not align with the science of reading, which has been proven successful through fMRI studies. We continue to ignore the reading failure rampant in our state and in the country. The devastating illiteracy rates confirm this real problem in our society. We can't fail another generation.