I call them our throw away kids, and they are getting tossed out in the garbage heap of our education system at an alarming rate. One in five has dyslexia, yet these kids rarely get help for their learning disabilities. Think about a typical classroom of thirty students. Six of them have dyslexia, and I can promise you that all six are not getting the help they need.
Now think about those six students in one classroom and envision that many classrooms across the nation. The amount of students being thrown away is staggering.
They fall through the cracks at school, rarely, if ever getting the help they need. These kids are bright, verbal, and don’t seem to have any issues. Until it’s time to read and spell.
“Try harder,” they are told when they are trying as hard as they can. “You’re being lazy.” That’s what dads usually say, especially if it’s a son. Still, the letters jumble, the print gets smaller, and nobody thinks to try something different with these kids.
Because they are smart, they often don’t qualify for special services at school. A normal or high IQ is a symptom of dyslexia, so these kids are usually shoved aside. They are tossed out with the construction paper, glue, and the barest hope that anyone really cares about them. And, it’s no wonder. With so many other kids needing help, it’s easy to let them slide. They’ll outgrow it. It’s their parents’ problem. They’ll be fine.
They aren’t fine. They won’t be fine.
They feel dumb. They do cagey things so nobody thinks they are stupid. It takes them three hours to do their homework. They cry but nobody hears. Nobody seems to care about kids with dyslexia, and all along, we know that 48% of the American prison system is dyslexic.
We are setting these kids up to fail. Big time. Who’s doing fund raising for them? Who is their poster child? Who is making sure they get what they need in school?
I have pressed schools to test students for dyslexia, even though by law they are required to. “We don’t like to label students with learning disabilities,” they have told me time and again. Yet, they are perfectly content labeling students with ADD/ADHD and autism. But dyslexia? Good luck with that diagnosis.
Dyslexia has been around for a long time, yet, we as a nation refuse to deal with it. We refuse to help these kids and don’t sit up and take notice of them. These kids have so much to offer. If we just go about teaching them differently.
They need to move to learn. They need a reading system that lets them move, that breaks down the phonemic units into predictable patterns. They need a reading program that is different from what they had all day long and what they offer for after school interventions.
The idea of giving these students another dose of what didn’t work all day while they sat in school is absolutely ludicrous. Yet, parents allow schools to put their dyslexic kids in these programs every day…with poor or limited results that only fatigue an already tired learner.
Dyslexic kids learn by doing because their visual and auditory systems are usually weaker than normal. They need different interventions to help them succeed academically. Not another dose of an outdated, boring, reading system.
When these kids fall behind, schools have them practice more. Parents have them read at home more. As if that’s going to work! Doing something incorrectly over-and-over again doesn’t help you master a skill!
Try running a marathon with a twisted leg and have your coach tell you to just run more and you’ll get it. You’ll win that marathon!
These kids are not winning the academic marathons. They aren’t winning much.
It’s time we quit throwing our precious dyslexic students in the garbage heap. It’s time we take notice of them and appreciate their strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses. It can be done. New neural pathways can be built in the brain. Visual and auditory processing can be strengthened. Memory building can be added to their regime so they can learn.
They can learn to read with movement, crossing the midline of the body, and a host of other skills. I should know. We do it every day.
These are our future architects and thinkers and entrepreneurs. These are kids who should not be thrown away…because no child should ever be thrown away.