N.J. parents of dyslexic children ready for action

    My son is one of those children who suffers needlessly in the classroom day in and day out. Now is the time for educational reform that will recognize the “D” word.

    The following reader-submitted essay is in response to a Speak Easy post about the preparedness of New Jersey public schools to accommodate the needs of dyslexic students.

    Thank you for giving a voice to my son Michael. He is 8 years old and reading at a kindergarten level. I’ve been following the group Decoding Dyslexia-NJ, and I started to realize that I was not alone.

    Due to social media, the parents of dyslexics are starting to be heard. We are appearing at task force meetings and going to Governor Christie’s town hall meetings. I attended such a meeting on May 10 in Freehold, N.J.

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    Do you have experience with dyslexia?Tell us in the comments below.

    When I left my home that morning I was on a mission. In my gut I knew I was going to speak for the thousands of New Jersey public school children who have dyslexia. I had the honor to ask Governor Christie why the Department of Education does not recognize the dyslexia diagnosis. (Go to the 58 minute mark.)

    My son is one of those children who suffers needlessly in the classroom day in and day out. I knew I was going to be chosen because now is the time for educational reform that will recognize the “D” word. We, the parents of dyslexics, are done with our children’s civil right to a free and appropriate education being denied.

    Dyslexia crosses all socioeconomic lines. A high percentage of high school dropouts are dyslexics, which would explain why we have a high number of dyslexic inmates. What happens to the child whose parents don’t have the means to private evaluations or private Wilson reading lessons at $90 an hour?

    If the taxpayers knew how much money was wasted on special education curricula that do not work, they would be outraged. Eighty-five percent of special-education students have some form of dyslexia. That accounts for thousands of parents who do not have a say in their child’s education.

    We will not allow our school districts to silence us any longer. Our voices are getting louder. Dyslexia is hereditary, so if we don’t address it now, failure and wasted taxpayer money is guaranteed for generations to come.

    Connecticut just passed education reform that enhances literacy for students in kindergarten through third grade. Gov. Malloy is dyslexic, so he knows first hand the importance of early screening and intervention. Dyslexia is a bi-partisan issue that is a win-win for everyone involved.

    Below you will find facts that were published almost 20 years ago (Source: National Institutes of Health Results; released in 1994). Why are the policymakers still trying to figure out what to do? The reasearch is done, and we are ready for action.

    Dyslexia affects at least one out of every five children in the United States.
    Dyslexia represents the most common and prevalent of all known learning disabilities.
    Dyslexia is the most researched of all learning disabilities.
    Dyslexia affects as many boys as girls.
    Some forms of dyslexia are highly heritable.
    Dyslexia is the leading cause of reading failure and school dropouts in our nation.
    Reading failure is the most commonly shared characteristic of juvenile justice offenders.
    Dyslexia has been shown to be clearly related to neurophysiological differences in brain function. Dyslexic children display difficulty with the sounds/symbol correspondences of our written code because of these differences in brain function.
    Early intervention is essential for this population.
    Dyslexia is identifiable, with 92 percent accuracy, at ages 5 ½ to 6 ½.
    Dyslexia is primarily due to linguistic deficits. We now know dyslexia is due to a difficulty processing language. It is not due to visual problems, and people with dyslexia do not see words or letters backwards.
    Reading failure caused by dyslexia is highly preventable through direct, explicit instruction in phonemic awareness.
    Children do not outgrow reading failure or dyslexia.
    Of children who display reading problems in the first grade, 74 percent will be poor readers in the ninth grade and into adulthood unless they receive informed and explicit instruction on phonemic awareness. Children do not mature out of their reading difficulties.
    Research evidence does not support the use of “whole language” reading approaches to teach dyslexic children.

    These research results have been independently replicated and are now considered to be irrefutable.

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