Dyslexia advocates continue to push for policy change

October Dyslexia Awareness Month.jpg
Posted at 4:03 PM, Oct 04, 2021

BOISE, Idaho — Governor Little and a nonprofit called Decoding Dyslexia met at the Statehouse Monday for a proclamation signing, making October 2021 Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Families from across Idaho pulled their kids out of school for the day to attend this proclamation signing. Many of them have similar stories of discovering their child's dyslexia and working to get them help.

One mom who traveled with her son from Firth, Idaho says she herself struggled with dyslexia and wasn't diagnosed until college.

"They did remediation for four months and I went from a fourth-grade reading level to a 16th-grade reading level in four months. My brain turned on and I did amazing in school," Dayna Berg said.

Bill Sharp and his family live in Meridian and he said it took a while to find out why his son was struggling in school.

"We actually ended up having to go outside the school and get private testing done and get private tutoring and things like that," he said.

Many families, like the Sharp family, said before their child's diagnosis they started to hate going to school.

"It just got to the point where he would come home and say mom I don't understand why kids, they understand things so much faster than I do," Sharp said.

Will Sharp said school was hard and frustrating and he felt left out sometimes.

"If you're reading something and like it, the words are all jumbled up and their weird, that's kind of how it is," he said.

The Executive Director of the Joshua Institute--a nonprofit that helps students with learning disabilities--said dyslexia can be more than just having trouble with learning to read.

"It's either being able to visually process information or auditorially process information or even just comprehend," Connie Risser said.

Idaho is currently the only state without any dyslexia legislation. Decoding Dyslexia is working to change this.

They want early screening for Dyslexia in elementary school and teacher training on how to help kids with Dyslexia learn.

In 2019, when Idaho first recognized October as dyslexia awareness month, Governor Little said he wanted to improve the effectiveness of reading coaches the state already funds with earlier testing to detect signs of dyslexia.

"We were making pretty good progress and then COVID hit and knocked us back a peg or two," he said Monday.

Governor Little said he and members of his administration have meetings every week to discuss the next steps.

Another mom who traveled with her high-school-aged son from eastern Idaho said they've been fighting with their school district since he was in elementary school.

"We know that future generations will benefit from the fight that my son and I have been going through," Tammy Jablonski said.