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Decoding Dyslexia – Empowering Parents Concerned about Dyslexia Services in Schools

Categories: Parenting, Public Policy/Advocacy

Guest blogger Lyn Pollard writes: "As the parent of a child with dyslexia or other reading disabilities, you may sometimes feel alone.  While facing the difficulties of helping your child learn to read, obtain services at school and sometimes to just fit in, it’s easy to feel like you are flying solo on this journey. Now a growing national movement of parents is changing all of that.  The Decoding Dyslexia organization, started in late 2011 by a group of New Jersey parents, is connecting parents across the country - just like you and me. The result?  Parents who no longer feel isolated in their work to obtain appropriate educational services for their dyslexic children." We invited Lyn to share perspectives on this remarkable groundswell of parental energy that is sweeping the nation.

The DD Movement 

As a parent member of the growing Decoding Dyslexia movement, I’ve experienced first-hand over the past few weeks the power and promise of like-minded parents across the U.S. coming together around a single cause – improving dyslexia services in our nation’s schools. Since the launch of Decoding Dyslexia New Jersey, there are now more than 20 Decoding Dyslexia state-based grassroots parent organizations. As a founder of Decoding Dyslexia Texas, I have been overwhelmed by the passion, professionalism and sheer drive of the parents I’ve had the privilege of getting to know already through the movement - from New Jersey to Oregon, Texas to Pennsylvania.

Get on Board

The great news for parents? Decoding Dyslexia is a place for you to find help and encouragement, too.  Any parent of a dyslexic child (or a child that you suspect may have a learning disability) or a parent who wants to work to improve school-based dyslexia services in their state is encouraged to join and plug in to resources provided by each DD state chapter.   Don’t just join for the resources and support; become an integral part of the movement by volunteering to help with the important work your DD state chapter is undertaking.  The DD movement is focused on providing opportunities for every parent member to do their part to keep the momentum going.  Let me give you a few examples of what the DD movement is up to:

DD New Jersey – Paving the Way

DD-NJ is working hard on the legislative front, and has been closely involved with helping write, promote and ultimately move several Dyslexia bills past the first big committee hurdle in the New Jersey legislature. Plus, DD-NJ is in the process of writing several new bills.  You can learn more by clicking on the NJ Legislation tab on the www.DecodingDyslexiaNJ.org In addition to the progress on the legislative front, DD-NJ is also working to make sure that other parents across the country have easy access to information to help them form their own Decoding Dyslexia state-based movements.  The DD-NJ founding committee has developed a guide to help families in other states get on board and gather the troops of parents interested in creating change for dyslexia in their states.  Check it out:

  Starting a Grassroots Movement for Dyslexia   DD Texas  Room for Improvement After only two months of founding Decoding Dyslexia Texas, Texas parents began joining hands with existing parent support groups for parents of kids with dyslexia and other disabilities to spread the word about DD-TX.  In addition, DD-TX founding members are reaching out to school districts across the state looking to collaborate and help advertise and enhance their existing state-required parent education programs. Since Texas is among the state to have the oldest laws regarding dyslexia services in schools, a major goal of the DD-TX movement will be to ensure that long-standing laws are being appropriately implemented in school districts across the state.  And, as new dyslexia legislation is being proposed and debated, DD-TX hopes to become the voice of Texas parents, collaborating with historically important dyslexia organizations like Texas Scottish Rite for Children and other entities to ensure that parent input is being considered and contributing feedback and testimony about how existing laws are and are not working to serve young dyslexic Texans.

Across State Lines

DD-NJ parent members are also working with parents with DD state chapters across the country to establish a national DD entity.  The vision and purpose of the national DD movement is to help point parents in every state looking to get involved with creating positive changes for dyslexic students in our nation’s schools to their state’s DD chapter.   In this capacity, DD parent founding members from across the country will be gathering in New York City during Spring 2013 to share ideas, bond and plan for the next phase of the national DD movement. A cross-state DD group gathered in March 2013 in Washington D.C. to meet with some U.S. congressmen and attend a seminar on learning differences. Six states were represented that day (NJ, CT, PA, MD, VA and WV) proving that DD parent volunteers are both willing to travel and work together to become a unified voice representing dyslexic students across our nation.

A True Ally

And to give credit where it’s due, Learning Ally has played a major role in helping to get the Decoding Dyslexia movement off the ground.  Learning Ally has allowed DD-NJ to hold their monthly meetings in its Princeton headquarters facility and has helped both NJ and PA with media contacts and with getting up to speed on the legislative process.

Look Who’s Talking about DD

There’s definitely a buzz going on surrounding the DD movement.  Folks are talking and writing about what DD is doing to extend the conversation about dyslexia and to empower parents to make changes in their states.  For example, Kyle Redford, Education Editor at the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, wrote an article in the Huffington Post about the movement. The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia (an HBO documentary about dyslexia that was directed by Kyle's husband, Jamie Redford) has joined hands with the DD movement.   Decoding Dyslexia teams across the country are attending educational screening of the film at schools and community centers, taking advantage of the opportunity to interact directly with parents that came to see the film.  To learn more, watch this informative video created by The Big Picture film team of DD-NJ parent founders explaining what the DD movement is all about. You can also read a recent article in the Trenton Times about Decoding Dyslexia.

Pay DD a Visit

More than 20 Decoding Dyslexia states now have Facebook pages, and many have Twitter accounts, too.  States collaborate via social media to re-post information, encourage parents across state lines and share information about approaches to creating legislation and engaging parents in local communities. Several of DD state chapters now have independent websites.  Come for a visit and see what the DD movement is all about – state by state! New Jersey Pennsylvania Texas Illinois Oregon Connecticut Kansas Virginia Maryland South Carolina California

Do It Yourself

No Decoding Dyslexia chapter in your state as of yet?  Help establish one!  The best way to start is to contact the DD-NJ directly by emailing info@decodingdyslexianj.org or visit their site at www.DecodingDyslexiaNJ.org by Lyn Pollard

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