Stop bullying of dyslexic kids

Experts in dyslexia have for many years focused on teaching children to read in the conventional way. But there are hidden costs to this more-of-the-same approach that impact many children who have a hard time in a mainstream classroom: self-harm, such as cutting or anorexia, and bullying.

There are different types of reading: eye reading, ear reading and finger reading. Blind people read with their fingers; mainstream people read with their eyes. In my case, I use my ears, as shown in this demonstration of using speech built into a standard iPad from Headstrong Nation, a national organization for dyslexic people.

It’s very important for all children to get a fair chance at learning to read with their eyes. However, focusing on eye reading in perpetuity can create painful shame. The shame comes from being told that part of you is unworthy—the part that does not read with one's eyes.

Read the rest of Headstrong Founder Ben Foss's most recent post for the NCLD here...

Pomona College student in Cognitive Sciences, Melissa was named America's Top Young Scientist by Discovery 3M, in addition to receiving the Smart Kids with LD Youth Achievement Award and Buick Achievers Scholarship ($25,000 per year for college). Melissa also designed and co-organized Summer Science Camp for Girls which is now in its 3rd year.

Assistive Technology blogger Brian

I'm dyslexic and a senior in high school. I've used assistive technology for many years to help me read and write. In third grade I started use the Alpha Smart computer to help me with writing. As I got older I started using Kurzweil 3000, Bookshare, and Learning Ally to help me with reading. In middle and high school the technology became increasingly important and allowed me to participate in interesting classes. Now in school I read all of my books with Bookshare and I use Kurzweil to read handouts. I'm definitely an ear reader.

A few years ago I started an assistive technology blog: bdmtech.blogspot.com. I write about a variety of technologies, but focus on technology that is useful for dyslexics. My first blog posts was about the Intel Reader.* I was very excited about winning it in a contest and it got me started on blogging. I thought it was really cool. I got it just before final exams and I used it to study. The Intel Reader was so helpful because some of the hand-outs and study material I had were only in hard copy. I decided that I wanted to let other people know about it, so that people who couldn't read would know there were solutions. Because technology is so helpful to me and so few people seemed to know what is available I wanted to share all the things that I found to help spread the word. —Brian Meersma

Brian got in touch with us a few weeks ago and we wanted to share his story here as a young dyslexic who has found the right technoglogies to empower him in school and in life. Brian lives in New Jersey and has been a passionate advocate for using assistive technologies and empowering dyslexics and the LD community. You can subscribe to Brians' blog here and follow him on Twitter here: twitter.com/bdmtech.
*Many people have written to us about purchasing an Intel Reader and we want to make sure the right information gets out there. There are few retailers currently selling the Intel Reader at present and it appears that it is reaching the end of its 4 year run on the market. Please visit our Workplace Accommodations page and look at "Expanding your tech toolkit" and our Classroom Accommodations page ("Taking Notes the Easy Way") for alternatives.

Richard Branson talks about learning the difference between net and gross, and the power of delegation.

special ed law & dyslexia webinar

How do you know which way is up?

How can you work with your school to get help for your struggling child?

IEP, 504, SLD, SST, Push In, Pull Out — what does it all mean?

In this information-packed free webinar, Kelli Sandman-Hurley and Tracy Block-Zaretsky of The Dyslexia Training Institute, shared a detailed tutorial on how to navigate through the school system when your student has dyslexia. Visit Learning Ally to download the documents that are referenced in the webinar and to participate in the discussion.

When I came back to get my results, the lab coat–wearing researcher looked very nervous. She couldn’t make eye contact with me and fidgeted in her seat. The more anxious she looked, the more nervous I got that this wasn’t going to go well. She finally looked up from her clipboard, and the following conversation ensued.

“Ben, I don’t know how to tell you this...but you’re really dyslexic.”

“Really? Excellent!” I meant it. I was greatly relieved.

Read the rest of Headstrong Nation founder Ben Foss's recent post for the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD): What Dyslexia Looks Like in My Brain.

Headstrong FAQs


I am looking for information about dyslexia.

The Headstrong Nation website has a lot of information about how to be an empowered dyslexic and how to advocate for yourself. However, if you are looking for in-depth information, research, and policy about dyslexia, please visit our good friends at NCLD / Understood

I would like to start a local support group.

Wonderful news. The more we can grow the community, the better. We are not at this time creating local Headstrong Nation chapters, but we believe in the power of individuals to make change in their community. Here are a couple of ideas for how to reach out and empower your local community.

  • If you are a parent of a dyslexic child, check out Decoding Dyslexia for a list of state chapters and for guidance on how to start a chapter in a new state. Decoding Dyslexia is a grassroots movement driven by families concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia. They have great resources for how to connect and build community wherever you are, and have already set up local chapters in 35 states ( now 48 states and 3 Canadian provinces) (and growing).
  • Visit the Local Resources section of our website to find out about information that may be relevant to your group’s interests.
  • Look into whether there might be a Eye to Eye chapter near you. Eye to Eye provides mentoring for elementary school students by college students and see if you can get involved.

I want to know more about accommodations and working with my school.

Check out the For Parents section of our website and go through all the information presented in sub-sections (Learn the Facts, Classroom accommodations, Tools).

I want to help other dyslexics through mentorship, advocacy, educational programs, etc.

Wonderful. There are a number of organizations that are looking for people like yourself. Visit our Partners page for a list of organizations that work with dyslexic communities across the country.


I want to donate to Headstrong Nation.

Great to hear! Every donation we receive will allow us to scale our support of the dyslexic community. Visit Just Give or Razoo to make a tax-deductible donation.

I am interested in sharing resources or partnering with Headstrong Nation in some way.

Please message us privately through our Facebook page and we will do our best to respond.


I am reading The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan. Where do I find the Strengths & Attitudes Assessments?

Both of the Assessments are printed in the book. If you are ear-reading and bought the CD version of the book, the assessments and other supplemental materials are on the disc itself. You can also access them on our site. If you are a parent of a dyslexic, go here. If you are an adult dyslexic, go here.

Remember to register before you you take the assessment so you can save your or your child’s Star for future reference. If you are looking for other resources that are mentioned in the book, please visit the For Adults section or the For Parents section of the site and look at the Workplace or Classroom Accommodation sections, and the Tools sections.

I am interested in having Ben Foss speak at my school, company or at a community event.

Please contact the Random House Speakers Bureau (RHSB) or email Linda Barnes (lbarnes@randomhouse.com) at RHSB directly. She will be able to work with you on a budget and timeframe.

I have a press or media related inquiry for Ben Foss.

Please reach out to Steve Boriack (sboriack@randomhouse.com), who is on the Random House PR team.

How do I follow Ben Foss?

You can follow Ben on his Facebook page and through Twitter. Ben also manages his own site, where he will post information about the book, his readings and other events. Visit www.benfoss.com.

I want to buy the Intel Reader.

The Intel Reader is coming to the end of its 4 year life and is being discontinued. There are a few sites still selling it and, consequently, prices are pretty high. The best option at this point may be to find an alternative. Check out the Classroom Accommodations section of the site and look at "Taking Notes The Easy Way" for our recommendations.

[Image licensed under creative commons]

Ben Foss's last presentation at Eagle Hill Southport in June 2013.

Come and listen to Headstrong Nation founder Ben Foss as he addresses the dyslexic community and its supporters next week at Eagle-Hill Southport in Fairfield, CT. Presented by the Eagle-Hill School and Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Ben will be speaking about his recent book as well as how to take advantage of Headstrong Nation. This event is FREE and open to the public.

Date: Thursday, September 19th

Time: 7-9pm

Where: Eagle Hill - Southport School


If you know someone in the tri-state area that would benefit, please share!

The hardest part about dyslexia is the loneliness. The same is true if you’re the parent of a dyslexic child. Feeling cut off from your friends, your school or, worse, your child, is tremendously painful.

People tend to focus on the functional challenges: spelling tests, chapter books, standardized tests. But it’s the secret fears about how dyslexia will play out that hold us back the most.

Read the rest of Headstrong Nation founder Ben Foss's most recent post for the NCLD: Dyslexia Insight #4: Seven Secret Fears About Your Dyslexic Child.

"As a dyslexic person, reading is like having a bad cell phone connection to a page. Information drops out, and I can’t access the content. When I listen to a book on tape or a talking computer, it’s like having a landline. Mainstream readers “eye read”; people who are blind and use Braille “finger read”; I “ear read.”

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to understand the joy of reading. This desire quickly turned into a deep sense of shame. I assumed my slow eye reading must have been my fault for not trying hard enough—rather than the problem being a flaw in the design of the book itself. I created elaborate camouflage—I even won a local bookmark-making contest! I wanted everyone to think I was “well read,” but all of my energy was going into hiding who I really was. For the first time in my life, I officially love books. That’s because today, I published one. It’s a step-by-step plan to help parents of kids who are dyslexic like me find the path that will allow their children to love books, too. For someone who always felt left out when others began discussing literature, this is a profound moment."

Read the rest of Headstrong Nation founder, Ben Foss's Dyslexia Insight #3: What It Takes for a Dyslexic Kid to Love Books from the NCLD.


Subscribe to RSS - dyslexia