News from Dr. Cruz: Equal access to literacy
When Kealing Middle School student Ben Cooper was younger, he was afraid he wouldn’t make it through elementary school. He was having difficulty learning to read and struggled to keep up with other students. After being tested, Ben was diagnosed with dyslexia, which translates literally into “difficulty with words.”
Now a teenager, Ben is speaking out in support of national legislation to promote better screening and identification of this learning disability. This past summer, he described his experience to members of the Texas State Board of Education.
For thousands of students like Ben, early dyslexia screening and identification can open the door to a lifetime of literacy. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that is not due to a lack of intelligence or desire to learn. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Roughly one in five people have the disorder, and many go undiagnosed.
The earlier a child receives a diagnosis and intervention, the sooner he or she can get on the path to successful learning. The best “window” for intervention is K-second grade. To provide support for students with dyslexia, AISD has expanded its screening and diagnosis efforts and invested in assistive technology. Teachers across the district are trained in an explicit, multisensory, sequential and systematic literacy approach.
October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month, and we are spreading the word that our district not only understands the best practices for diagnosis and intervention of dyslexia, but we are approaching the issues in a proactive and aggressive manner to provide the best possible outcome for our dyslexic students: equal access to literacy!
Paul Cruz, Ph.D.