Park City parents will get a firsthand look at what it means to be dyslexic Wednesday as part of the Park City Day School event, "Experiencing Dyslexia." As a collaborative event, the Park City Day School teamed up with the Utah-based nonprofit U Can Learn a nonprofit that works with children and adults on dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, academic problems, speech and language problems and memory and learning deficits to show parents the trials of a dyslexic child in the classroom.
Using hands-on activities that put participants in the shoes of a dyslexic child, U Can Learn founder and clinical director Karla Jay plans to walk through simple grade-school activities with a twist, each activity relating to a form of dyslexia.
"This puts participants in the shoes of a dyslexic child," Jay said. "And our intent is not to frustrate, but people often are. Now imagine that every day."
Dyslexia is a neurological disorder that can negatively impact students' learning in the classroom and at home, ranging from simple attention skills to comprehensive reading. The language-processing disorder also impacts directionality and the ability to memorize random facts and is typically inherited. According to statistics provided by U Can Learn, as many as one in five people in the United States have some form of dyslexia, roughly 20 percent of the population.
"This is a prevalent piece of a child's learning process," said Melanie Pickens, the Park City Day School Academic Dean. "We need to do more to educate people, to get people to realize that this child is capable of reading and they are intelligent. We want to give children with dyslexia the tools and the support they need in and outside of school."
"We're beginning to tease out these issues," she added, "through teachers and other resources, what is that root cause of what's hindering their learning and helping students be successful academically."
In Utah, schools do not test for dyslexia, which means there are very few programs to address the issue in classrooms throughout the state.
"A lot of kids with dyslexia will not qualify for special services in their schools," Jay said. "They end up working so hard to keep up."
One activity at the event that displays how dyslexia can work will involve participants reading a story where the letters b, d, p and q will be interchanged at random. Jay said that for a child with dyslexia who is reading at a slower pace, that child may be asked to stay behind to finish the reading while classmates go to recess or parents may grow frustrated thinking the child has attention problems.
"The best time to identify these disorders for students is as early as possible," said Tess Miner-Farra, the Associate Head of the Park City Day School. "Hopefully, the more teachers and parents know, the better they are able to accommodate students. Sometimes it doesn't take much to accommodate, as little as extra time or modified assignments."
U Can Learn recently opened a branch in Jeremy Ranch to work with children and adults in the local area. Dyslexia tests are provided on a sliding scale through the nonprofit alongside other programs that teach skills to overcome a dyslexia diagnosis. With a background in Special Education, psychology and Speech Pathology, Jay has worked with children and adults in a private practice setting since 1984. The event will be held at the Park City Day School starting at 6:30 p.m. Those interested in attending can RSVP to Park City Day School at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-649-2791. For more information visit U CAN LEARN's website at www.ucanlearn.net .
Indicators of Dyslexia and other learning disorders
Central Auditory Processing Skills:
The brain's ability to process what the ear delivers.
Did your child begin speaking later than age two? Do they watch others perform actions first, then join in? Do they have a difficult time understanding directions? Do they say, 'huh' or 'what' often? Have they had many ear infections?
Visual Processing Disorders: It's not what happens in the eyes, but what happens when the information reaches the brain.
Do they skip lines or small words while reading? Do they have good eyesight but complain of not being able to see the words clearly? Is their reading slow and choppy? Do they complain of eyes hurting or tiredness when reading? Are they active, fidgety or easily distracted while studying? Do they take a long time to finish tests or projects?
Dyslexia Does your child:
Demonstrate letter/number reversals, continuing past the first grade? Exhibit extreme difficulty with cursive writing? Guess at words based on shape of the word or context of sentence? Have difficulty telling time with a clock that has hands? Have difficulty in memorizing multiplication facts? Demonstrate poor written expression? Be unable to master a foreign language?
Neuro-timing/working memory and attention disorders:
Are they clumsy or have poor motor coordination? Do they have a difficult time learning to play a musical instrument/sport? Do they have good intellect but struggle in academics? Do they have poor attention to task or lack of sustained focus? Are they behavior-disordered or disruptive? Do they have trouble with organizational skills? Do they have difficulty with working memory or sequencing skills such as in reading and math? Do they get easily frustrated?