What You Need to Know When You Love a Child With Dyslexia

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As a special education teacher, I get attached to many students, especially those who have dyslexia. These children hold a special place in my heart because they’re not like typical children. They can’t just pick up a book and start reading with great fluency and accuracy, but they can pick up some Legos and make something extremely creative and tell you all about it. They can’t write you a full paragraph with correct spellings, punctuation and perfect handwriting, but they can tell you a story straight from their amazing imagination.  Their brain works much different than ours. Let me explain dyslexia….

Dys= difficulty            

Lexia = with words        

Dyslexia = difficulty with words.

Individuals with dyslexia have trouble processing expressive or receptive, oral or written language despite adequate intelligence. They may experience difficulty with the alphabet, reading, comprehension, writing and/or spelling. Dyslexia is an auditory issue, not a visual issue. Having dyslexia doesn’t mean you read, write or think backwards (which is a common misconception). People with dyslexia may have letter reversals (b, d, p, q) or translocate letters in words (“teh” instead of “the”). When accessing oral or written language, parts of their brain don’t activate, causing a missing link. This is where the problem lies.

There are numerous ways to help our children who have dyslexia. Phonemic awareness and Phonics are critical. Using multi-sensory strategies like utilizing a mirror when the child says sounds so they can see how their mouth is moving, moving chips or blocks to show the different sounds in words, using hand motions for letter sounds and blending sounds together. Teaching students with dyslexia to read isn’t much different than teaching other kids, you just have to be more much explicit in your directions, teach them the concept longer and constantly review what they’ve previously learned. Be patient with them.

chip

Children with dyslexia are amazing, although they rarely see it because of their deficits. Most of the time these children have excellent thinking and reasoning skills. It takes a lot of work to compensate for the missing link when reading and writing; they can problem solve their way around anything. Their creativity and adaptations to things will astound you. Many have oral skills that will make you wonder if they’re indeed dyslexic at all. They learn through meaning rather than memorization. Don’t count them out for one second!

Here are some tips on helping and loving your child, who happens to have dyslexia:

  • Let your child know that they aren’t dumb. Explain what dyslexia is and how it affects them.  Teach your child to be self aware and an advocate for his or herself.
  • Don’t overwork your little one. When they come home from school, they need some downtime.  When it’s time for homework make sure you’re right there with them. Read directions or word problems. Give them support and lots and lots and lots of encouragement.
  • If you’re able to connect your child with a mentor or friend that is also dyslexic, DO IT!  These children can feel isolated, and they can easily get depressed because of their struggles. Allowing them to know they’re not alone is good for their heart.
  • Guide them to discover their strengths. Some students excel at making things with their hands, knowing random history facts, playing a musical instrument, being athletic, etc. Praise them on their strengths often.
  • Encouragement goes a long way. You will be their biggest cheerleader in life. Dylexia is lifelong.
  • Give them extra time. Allowing your child extra time for reading, writing, spelling and comprehending is essential. Their brains need this time to process what others’ brains process in seconds. A “504 Plan” or “IEP” should be in your vocabulary. School-aged children with characteristics of Dyslexia need this for extra time or other accommodations to level the playing field.
  • Things not to tell your child when working with them: “Hurry,” “That’s an easy word,” “Sound it out,” “Are you trying?” “You’re taking forever,” “You know you can write better than that.” These are just a few phrases that parents and teachers often say, hoping the child will work better or faster or harder. People with dyslexia are working the best, fastest and hardest they can.
  • Did I say encourage them? Yes! Praise the heck out of them for their work. Show them how proud you are and let them know that you knew they could do it all along. Teach them to aim high. Talk about college and what they can become. Dyslexia is not dooming them in this game called life. They will, unfortunately, have to work harder to learn certain things, but it could mold an exceptional human being who knows how to persevere through it all.

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If you’d like more resources as a parent to a child with dyslexia please visit http://dyslexia.yale.edu/parents.html.

This post originally appeared on red stick moms blog.

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A Letter to the Governor Trying to Cut Early Intervention Funds

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Governor Rauner,

You don’t know me. Our paths have never crossed — until recently — when I read about your proposed budget cuts to Early Intervention. My heart sunk. I couldn’t catch my breath. Tears streamed down my face.

Since we’ve never met, you can’t possibly be aware that I’m the mother of an amazing 2-year-old, Ceci. You don’t know that she has a smile that can light up the room. And an unbelievably contagious belly laugh. You don’t know that she loves puppies and ice cream and dance parties. That she gives the best and the biggest hugs. Or that she is the strongest and most determined person I’ve ever met.

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You also don’t know that she has hypotonia and a gross motor delay. That she receives physical therapy services through Early Intervention. That without these services, without our amazing physical therapist, we would be lost. She would be lost. And that fact terrifies me.

Early Intervention gives our family hope, support and guidance. Early Intervention gives my daughter a chance.

A chance to walk and explore the world around her.

A chance to be included — to run with her friends on the playground as their laughter dances around them.

A chance to do silly dances with her older sister and giggle until happy tears run down both of their faces.

A chance to reach her potential and, in doing so, experience all the beauty life has to offer.

And although we don’t know each other, I do know some things:

I know if you make cuts to this program, my daughter will no longer receive the services that have been so instrumental in helping her learn to crawl, walk, run and jump.

I know without these valuable services, my daughter will slowly and surely fall further behind her peers.  And she has worked so hard to get where she is — harder than you could ever begin to imagine. How dare you threaten to take that away?

I know my daughter will not be the only child affected — hurt — by these cuts. There are many other Cecis out there — children who need Early Intervention services and who deserve a chance.

I also know there are other moms like me out there — moms who love their children with every fiber of their being and want the best for them.

And let me tell you a funny thing about moms:  when you make one of us mad, you’ve ignited the fury of the masses. And nothing is scarier than a bunch of angry moms.

Governor Rauner, in closing, I realize I may have misspoke earlier. Ceci may be determined, but am the most determined person I know.

If you make these proposed budget cuts to Early Intervention, I can guarantee that you will be hearing a lot more from “yours truly.”

Ali Cummins

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Two housing communities in Florida are currently in the works as part of a larger movement to provide more housing opportunities for adults with special needs.

The Villages at Noah’s Landing is a housing development undergoing construction in Lakeland, Florida. It’s designed to provide a sense of community as well as living assistance for people with physical or intellectual disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome. Expected to be fully operational by this time next year, the 56-acre gated community will include 132 apartment units, a recreation center with a pool, a community garden, a farm yard and a commercial kitchen with an optional dining room. Residents will be able to walk or ride their bikes within the community and will have access to public transportation, according to the project’s website. Staff, volunteers and parents will provide individually-tailored oversight as well as help to foster a sense of community among residents, Disability Scoop reported.

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A drawing of the Noah’s Landing community design via the project’s Facebook page.

The Arc Village, a 97-acre community design similar to Noah’s Landing, will soon begin construction just outside Jacksonville, Florida. In addition to fostering a social environment within the community, the Arc aims to enable residents to interact with the greater Jacksonville community in ways they could not have before, according to the project’s website.

Once completed, both communities will hopefully reduce the waiting list for affordable housing for people with intellectual and physical disabilities in Florida. Noah’s Landing and the Arc Village are among the first housing developments of their kind in Florida, but comparable communities exist throughout the United States and beyond. Residences such as Pathfinder Village in New York, the Baddour Center in Mississippi and Annendale Village in Georgia provide a similar combination of independent and assisted living for people with special needs. The Camphill Association of North America founded more than 100 living communities for people with special needs worldwide, 11 of which are in the U.S., according to its website. In Europe, both Switzerland and the Netherlands have designed housing communities for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Hopefully, the movement will continue to grow. “We believe we’re starting a tsunami,” Jack Kosik, a Noah’s Landing founder told Disability Scoop. “If we do it right, this will be a national model.”

To learn more about Noah’s Landing, visit the project’s website or Facebook page. For more information about the Arc Village, visit its website and Facebook page

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To Anyone Who Feels Like They Suck at This Parenting Thing

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Things last year were bad. My daughter, Molly, was not herself. She was a ball of rage and anxiety. We were late for school every day. She felt miserable, and we felt powerless. And most days, hopeless. It sucks to see your child suffering and not be able to fix it. Each visit to the pediatrician saw us looking more worn and dejected than the previous month’s visit. I remembering remarking to my husband that each day we were screwing up our kid more than the day before. I was afraid for each day to come because I felt like it was one more step down a one-way road that led away from the happy little girl she once was.

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You’ll hold your breath.

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And that scares the hell out of you.

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Because it got better.

A version of this post appeared on Don’t Lick the Deck.

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This Is How a Blind Girl Imagines ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to Look. And It’s Magical.

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Step into the imaginative world of a blind 7-year-old girl.

Called “Emily’s Oz,” the video below is an advertisement for Comcast’s new system that will allow users with visual impairments to experience TV and movies through a voice-enabled television interface.

In the commercial, a young girl named Emily describes what she imagines “The Wizard of Oz” to look like, and then it’s animated and brought to life before our eyes. Her interpretation of the classic film is strange, beautiful and completely captivating.

I think about the shape,” Emily says in the video below. “I think about color, and I also think about sound. I take it into my brain, and I think about what would it look like to me.”

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h/t Huffingon Post Good News

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My daughter Namine is certainly no stranger to staring, but as she has gotten older she has become more attentive to when it happens.

We had to go to the grocery store the other day. As Namine and I waited for Jessica, we noticed two children staring at us (in all likelihood, more so at Namine than at me). One was probably too young to know better, but the other one definitely was not.

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A version of this post originally appeared on eichfam.net.

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