Is Dyslexia Still the Hidden Disability?
Dyslexia is often referred to as the hidden disability (I use the term dyslexia to include all forms of language based learning disabilities). Difficulties with mobility, vision, and hearing, along with other disabilities, are often more obvious to the world, especially to those of us in education. Accommodations for these children are imperative to their functioning in the classroom and in their learning. For dyslexic students, the same accommodations are often given repeatedly, with the hope of improved academic performance, but those accommodations are often not considered imperative for their learning.
This week, I listened to a student talk about his path to learning, leading to his enrollment at our school. This boy is a sixth grader who was identified as being dyslexic in the third grade. Despite that identification, year after year, teachers gave him the traditional work that required a trip to the resource room for him to even attempt it. He talks of spending days in the resource room just playing on the computer because he knew he had to be in school, and he found his time in the traditional classroom to be a waste of time. Now that he is in an environment that understands his learning needs, he is doing his work, he is making gains, and he is showing his strength as a learner. He didn't want to hide from learning; he just needed someone to understand his less-than-visible disability.