What is Dyslexia?
“Dyslexia is included in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) as a specific learning disability (SLD). Dyslexia impacts reading, specifically decoding and accurate and/or fluent word recognition and spelling. Dyslexia is neurobiological in origin and is unexpected and/or inconsistent with a student’s other abilities despite the provision of appropriate instruction. Dyslexia results from a significant deficit in phonological processing (i.e., a persistent difficulty in the awareness of and ability to manipulate the individual sounds of spoken language).
Typically, students with dyslexia have strengths and cognitive abilities in areas such as reasoning, critical thinking, concept formation, problem solving, vocabulary, listening comprehension, and social communication (e.g., conversation). Early identification and appropriate instruction targeting the underlying phonological processing deficits that characterize dyslexia may minimize its educational impact.”
*Developed by Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) with input from an external stakeholder workgroup (including Margie Gillis) and based on review of applicable literature, the IDEA, and current definitions in use by other states, organizations and legislation.
Connecticut SLD/Dyslexia Legislation
The state of Connecticut has been a leader in crafting legislation supporting the identification and instruction of students with SLD/Dyslexia and requiring their instructors to have appropriate knowledge and practice.
See CSDE’s Frequently Asked Questions about Specific Learning Disability/Dyslexia Public Act 14-39 for more information on “appropriately evaluating, identifying, and providing specialized instruction to children with SLD/Dylexia.”
See also, CSDE’s SLD/Dyslexia Assessment Resource Guide, created in response to requests from educators and administrators from local education agencies (LEAs) seeking information about appropriate assessment options for the identification of SLD/Dyslexia and other reading-related learning disabilities.
Comprehensive Reading Evaluations
Literacy How offers Comprehensive Reading Evaluations for struggling readers to help parents determine the best next steps for their child. To find qualified evaluators for students living outside of Connecticut, Literacy How recommends contacting the local branch of Decoding Dyslexia or other state dyslexia organizations. Read Evaluating Your Child for Dyslexia.
NEW! Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator Certification
“Orton-Gillingham is an instructional approach intended primarily for use with persons who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing of the sort associated with dyslexia. It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, system or technique.” Literacy How now offers Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator Certification to school districts and schools.
Expert Teaching is the Treatment for Students with SLD/Dyslexia
What is dyslexia? Watch as reading expert Margie Gillis explains what dyslexia is, including signs and symptoms of dyslexia. Hear her talk about why reading is difficult for dyslexic children, and how to help.
Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading
The IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading (Knowledge and Practice Standards) “provide a comprehensive research based framework that articulates what all reading teachers and specialists should know and be able to demonstrate to teach reading successfully to all students. The focus of the Knowledge and Practice Standards is the structure of language and its component systems, their connections to design and delivery of instruction, and the complex nature of skilled reading. Such knowledge is critical in teaching those with dyslexia and other struggling readers, but all students can benefit from the Structured Literacy approach.”
What is Structured Literacy?
Structured Literacy explicitly teaches systematic word identification/decoding strategies. These benefit most students and are vital for those with dyslexia.
SLD/Dyslexia Expert Presentations
Margie Gillis has worked at the policy level through the Connecticut State Department of Education and was recently a member of the SLD/Dyslexia Workgroup. If you would like Margie to give a presentation about SLD/Dyslexia to your staff, please contact our office at 203-239-7323.
View these webinars presented by Margie Gillis: Increasing Awareness of SLD/Dyslexia: Implications for Connecticut Educators and Using Literacy Screening Data to Support Students with Reading Difficulties.
Research has shown that 10-15% of students may have a learning disability. Of these, 80% will demonstrate characteristics of dyslexia. Despite the prevalence of reading disorders, many teachers may not have experienced the knowledge about how to effectively teach these students.
Literacy How provides professional development about effective identification, assessment, and instruction for students with reading disabilities and dyslexia, including:
- a background in reading development – how children learn to read, the sources of common reading problems, and the neurological basis of reading
- how structured, explicit, systematic, cumulative instruction benefits all students
- how to use assessment data to inform and drive differentiated instruction for all students
- how early identification and appropriate instruction targeting the underlying phonological processing deficits that characterize dyslexia may minimize its educational impact.
Literacy How works with schools’ literacy teams, including general and special education teachers, and administrators, to offer professional development that meets their needs.
SLD/Dyslexia Resources for Teachers and Parents
The 1in5 initiative was created by Learning Ally as an online community where students with LD and the people who love and support them can share their stories (via YouTube), blogs, and resources.
BestColleges.com’s College Resources for Students with Disabilities helps students with dyslexia, ADHD and other forms of LD find campuses equipped with offices and services that address accessibility, accommodation, and assistive technology.
GoodCall’s The Fully Accessible Guide to Paying for College for Students with Disabilities provides disabled students with comprehensive information about how to pay for college as well as scholarships and other information that is specifically helpful for students with disabilities.
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. is an independent, nonprofit peer-to-peer network of attorneys, advocates, parents and related professionals dedicated to protecting and enforcing legal and civil rights of students with disabilities and their families at the national, state, and local levels.
CSDE’s Special Education Publications include best practice resources, eligibility and guidance documents, and parent/family resources.
Decoding Dyslexia is a network of parent-led grassroots movements across the country concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia within the public education system. [They] aim to raise dyslexia awareness, empower families to support their children and inform policy-makers on best practices to identify, remediate and support students with dyslexia. Decoding Dyslexia–CT has been instrumental in promoting legislation that supports students with SLD/Dyslexia. Find the chapter in your state.
“Don’t ‘DYS’ our Kids: Dyslexia and the Quest for Grade-Level Reading Proficiency.” The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and Campaign for Grade-Level Reading present a comprehensive report and action plan for helping children with learning disabilities reach grade-level reading proficiency. View the video.
Dragonflyresources offers a Learning Disabilities Field Map “to inform our proactive philanthropy and provide a top-down, spatial view of programs, projects, organizations that serve people with learning disabilities.”
New! Dyslexiaville is the first media company for kids with dyslexia and other learning differences. Their mission is to help kids succeed in school and life because of, and not in spite of, their learning differences. Visit YouTube to see their series “Super d! Show”.
Dyslexic Advantage, one of the world’s largest online dyslexia communities, is dedicated toward increasing awareness, education, research into the strengths and talents of dyslexic people.
The Dyslexia Foundation was established to identify and assist children with dyslexia and to establish higher levels of learning through specialized programs promoting better reading.
DyslexiaHelp at the University of Michigan offers resources for professionals, parents, and students with dyslexia.
Dyslexia Society of Connecticut is “dedicated to achieving reading proficiency for all Connecticut residents through evidence-based training for teachers in order to provide appropriate explicit, systematic instruction for students with dyslexia and related reading disabilities.”
Effective Reading Instruction for Students with Dyslexia, Just the Facts, International Dyslexia Association.
The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation’s Learning Disabilities Field Guide will help parents and educators keep up with books, web initiatives, organizations and documentaries about LD. The Foundation welcomes suggestions, edits, and additions for bi-annual revisions.
Headstrong Nation aims to end the isolation of the world’s largest disability group by providing information about dyslexia, self-advocacy and new technologies.
The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with dyslexia, their families and the communities that support them. IDA supports literacy through research, education, and advocacy. See their Fact Sheets and the New! IDA Dyslexia Handbook. What Every Family Should Know.
Learning Ally is a national nonprofit providing, resources, training, and technology for teachers and schools, and 80,000 human-voiced audiobooks for students with learning & visual disabilities.
LD OnLine is a WETA-sponsored (national public television) website on learning disabilities, learning disorders and differences. Parents and teachers of learning disabled children will find authoritative guidance on attention deficit disorder, ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dysnomia, reading difficulties, speech and related disorders.
National Center on Intensive Intervention’s mission is to build district and school capacity to support implementation of data-based individualization in reading, mathematics, and behavior for students with severe and persistent learning and behavioral needs.
National Center on Improving Literacy is a partnership among literacy experts, university researchers, and technical assistance providers, with funding from the United States Department of Education. Their mission is to increase access to, and use of, evidence-based approaches to screen, identify, and teach students with literacy-related disabilities, including dyslexia.
National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) connects and parents and others with essential resources, provides educators with evidence-based tools, and engages advocates in public policy initiatives.
Neuhaus Education Center, dedicated to promoting reading success, provides evidence-based professional development to educators, information and resources to parents, and direct services to adult learners. Read their dyslexia guide, You CAN Help Your Child.
(re) Imagining Reading was developed by Smithsonian Institution researchers to take advantage of e-readers that have been proven to be help some people with dyslexia.
SERC (State Education Resource Center) established the Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)/Dyslexia Initiative to inform CT educators and families about issues and best practices related to the needs of students with all types of learning disabilities, including dyslexia.
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities®, co-founded by Margie Gillis, is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the parents of children with learning disabilities (LD) and attention-deficit disorder (ADHD). Parents can sign up for their newsletter, read blogs, tips, and more.
Understood aims “to help the millions of parents whose children, ages 3–20, are struggling with learning and attention issues,” including daily access to free expert advice, resources, tips, and a secure parent community.
Wrightslaw offers accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities, including a newsletter, blog, and extensive advocacy and law libraries.
Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity aims to uncover and illuminate the strengths of those with dyslexia, disseminate information, practical advice and the latest innovations from scientific research, and transform the lives of children and adults with dyslexia.
View Embracing Dyslexia, a thoughtful and moving exploration of dyslexia from an insider’s perspective, weaving together interviews with parents, adult dyslexics, researchers, educators and experts to provide an accurate portrayal of a learning difference that affects between 15-20% of the population.
View The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, a documentary that provides personal and uplifting accounts of the dyslexic experience from children, experts and iconic leaders, such as Sir Richard Branson and financier Charles Schwab. Directed by James Redford, the film not only clears up the misconceptions about the condition, but also paints a picture of hope for all who struggle with it. Proving that dyslexia is a neurological issue and not a character flaw, The Big Picture beautifully illustrates that while the condition is an obstacle, it also carries some unique advantages, and ultimately can be overcome.
Emanuel, G. (November 29, 2016) How science is rewiring the dyslexic brain. National Public Radio, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/11/29/503693391/researchers-study-what-makes-dyslexic-brains-different.
Felton, R., Hook, P. & Lowell, S. (2014). Basic facts about assessment of dyslexia. International Dyslexia Association.
Kilpatrick, D.A. (2015) Essentials of assessing, preventing, and overcoming reading difficulties. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Moats, L. & Dakin, K. (2007). Basic facts about dyslexia and other reading problems. International Dyslexia Association.
Learn more about how to teach students with SLD/Dyslexia in these articles by Margie Gillis: Treating Dyslexia, Addressing Reading Issues: Multisensory Structured Language Basics, and Help for an Older Child with Reading Problems.
Brain image retrieved from BrainFacts.org.