LD

Great post from The School of Dyslexia by our friend Sharon Plante, Director of Technology, Eagle Hill-Southport, Southport, CT:

Sharon Plante

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.

Continue reading post here...

Ella

We received this essay from a middle-schooler named Ella about a particularly difficult experience she had as a dyslexic. It is hard to read, but it gives us an important glimpse inside a world that many people do not understand or have chosen to forget. Ella has since gone on to become her own best advocate and is currently attending a school which specializes in dyslexia and LD identities. Keep fighting, Ella.


I’m sitting in the back of the classroom. I raise my hand high. My teacher does not call on me. There are 48 kids in my class. Then a young girl walked into the classroom and said “Is Ella here?” I got up and went outside to her.

There were 3 kids there. Their names were Meadow, Nigel and my best friend Emma. One of the kids in my class yelled out, “That is for retarded kids only.” I felt empty and sad. Was I retarded? “No,” I said. My face became red as all 48 kids looked at me as I walked away into another classroom.

I walked into the room and felt angry and I sat down at a desk and had to read a fluency packet. Then we had to get up to level 7 and I was on 2.

I walked back to class and sat back down at my real desk back with all 48 kids. The teacher gave everyone a huge book. The teacher called my name. I started to read the sentence. I stumbled over words and skipped the words I could not read. I looked up and everyone stared at me with a strange look on their faces. I felt my eyes starting to water. My friend beside me said “just ignore the class.” I kept reading. Then the words became blurry then the words went dark.

The teacher said “Sam it’s your turn.” I heard him read and he didn’t even mess up. I felt stupid. When school was over a student came up to me and said. “Why do you read so slow?” I felt my tears trying to burst out. I breathed in and out and said, “Why do you care?”

I walked away slowly and felt upset and mad and wondered if I hurt his feelings by saying “Why do you care?” I wanted to apologize but I couldn't I was crying too much. I ran into the bathroom and sat on the ground. Then my three friends walked into the bathroom and asked me why I was crying. I lied and said because I hurt my knee. I lied because I didn’t want them to think I was dumb. I lied because I was embarrassed. I heard my mom call my name so I ran out of the bathroom pretending to look happy as we drove home to my two sisters waiting for me.

Ella is a seventh-grade student who recently shared her story with us.

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.

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.

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