Although the word dyslexia has been in use for over one hundred years, it is a relatively new term in American education.
Today, dyslexia affects an estimated 8.5 million school children and one in six Americans in some form.
Although the term dyslexia was given official government recognition in The Code of Practice, published by the U.S. Department for Education and Employment in 1994, the use of the term in public education has been discouraged or banned in favor of “specific learning difficulty” or specific learning disability”.
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On October 23, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education issued a letter clarifying the provision of services to children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
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This correspondence noted that “there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in the IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents.” More recently, the READ Act was signed by President Obama on February 18, 2016, to devote at least $2.5 million annually to dyslexia research through the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bill requires a focus on best practices in the following areas:
- Early identification of children and students with dyslexia
- Professional development about dyslexia for teachers and administrators
- Curricula development and evidence-based educational tools for children with dyslexia
More than half of all states have now adopted some form of legislation to address identification and instruction for children with dyslexia and additional training for teachers, and more are expected to do so in upcoming legislative sessions. Research and support for dyslexia is an important issue in education whose time has finally come.
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Adults with dyslexia have often lived with a lifetime of pain and frustration that has impacted every area of their lives—academic, vocational, and social/emotional. For some, this began as early as they can remember: struggling to learn letters, difficulty with reading even beginner books, and writing that was torturous. For others, the problems began as they got older and couldn’t keep up with classmates. In fact, it is often characterized by struggles with reading, writing, and spelling that have persisted for most of their lives.
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Signs of Dyslexia