Decoding Dyslexia

Apr 9, 2014

Thanks to new legislation, a definition of dyslexia will now be included in the Iowa Code.  The neurological condition, which often runs in families, causes individuals difficultly with learning to read, write and spell.

The law is the result of strong advocacy from a number of groups, including the parent-lead, grassroots organization Decoding Dyslexia. DD aims to bring attention to educational intervention for dyslexic students.

Heidi Kroner, leader of Decoding Dyslexia Iowa, says the new legislation is important since some gradation of dyslexia affects up to 20 percent of Iowa school children.  "They just aren't getting the help they need."

Kroner's 16-year-old son is dyslexic.  While her son displayed signs of dyslexia as early as preschool, it took years for the Kroners to find help.

"I had to drive 45 minutes one way to a tutor...very expensive.  But my husband and I decided it was worth it."

After three years of tutoring, Kroner says her son reads and writes very well. The new law hopefully will help families like the Kroners find solutions sooner.

Michelle Hosp is the director of the Iowa Reading Research Center, an online collection of literacy resources available to both educators and the public. Hosp says that early identification is key for kids with dyslexia.

"If we can identify them early, and we can provide them with evidence-based interventions, they can be successful in reading."

Because dyslexics tend to be smart and highly creative their literacy issues are often ignored.  Poor scholastic performance may be attributed to laziness, carelessness or a lack of focus.

Hosp says the new legislation not only will provide teachers with the resources to identify literacy issues, but the new definition also gives parents a tool to advocate for their child's education.

“Every kid can read," says Hosp. "Sometimes it’s really hard for certain kids, but it can be done."