A CHILD’S TOUCHSTONE
Gaining National Attention
Rising to the Challenge of your Child’s Dyslexia
O.C. businesswoman Lorraine Donovan understands the dynamics of a learning disability diagnosis, because “Nothing is more overwhelming than the news your child has a learning disability. For those bringing the news, it’s a matter of fact. For you, it’s an emergency.”
Crisis strikes quickly:
When Donovan’s son was diagnosed five years ago with dyslexia, that emergency arrived. Basic education and real-world applications she could use daily to increase her son’s capacity for learning seemed inaccessible and almost non-existent. Sorting through the legal, academic and clinical literature to find practical and understandable tools for parents was overwhelming and confusing. Donovan learned for first time, that she was also dyslexic.
Solutions that pay off:
Thousands of research hours and five years later Donovan wrote a book on dyslexia to fill the information gap between academic analysis and parental action. A series of speaking engagements for 2016, among others, include webinars for The International Dyslexia Association, the National Institute of Learning Development, and keynote speaking for JPW Learning Center, Parent Teacher Association(s), School Districts, and Decoding Dyslexia, and training on dyslexia to educators. Her book, “A Child’s Touchstone. Dyslexia Guidance for ‘Less than Perfect’ Parents, Teachers and Pediatricians,” launched at Chapman University’s Dyslexia Summit, Oct. 23, 2015. “A Child’s Touchstone” helps parents recognize dyslexic symptoms, and navigate through the maze of people, paperwork and legalese that a dyslexia diagnosis can bring. In Donovan’s words, “I wanted a book on dyslexia that guided parents and teachers, step-by-step, in relatable terms. I also wanted solutions that made practical sense that could be applied on a daily basis to help dyslexic children” — she couldn’t find such a book, so she wrote it herself. Her decision to write “A Child’s Touchstone” was the right one! Thousands of parents and educators are gaining knowledge and solutions that benefit dyslexic children. Donovan says, “Helping parents and educators so that they can help dyslexic kids, is what it’s all about. I am honored to be a part of such an important cause”.
A critical need for so many:
The International Dyslexia Association, a network of professionals whose mission is to educate dyslexics and their families, notes that “perhaps as many as 15–20 percent of the population as a whole—have some of the symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing or mixing up similar words.” In the United States, a country of almost 323 million, this might mean somewhere between 48 and 64 million Americans may experience trouble learning, although not all would qualify for special education. However, a child can quickly be set on the path to success when learning disabilities are caught early and provided educational supports and accommodations.
Life with dyslexia:
The dyslexic brain processes material differently, therefore, it is not as adept at learning by reading. Creative and visual processes are needed to enhance learning. Research from the Learning Disabilities Association of America reveals audio books (such as Learning Ally), presenting material in small units and multisensory teaching methods improve learning. In other words touching, cutting and tasting an apple will provide a more profound learning experience for the dyslexic child than simply reading about it. Unfortunately, the majority of classroom teachers do not have adequate training on dyslexia or know how to teach to these children’s learning style.
Literacy spells success:
The National Assessment of Educational Progress underscores early literacy’s importance to a child’s success. Without language and vocabulary skills opportunity for advancement is stalled. Donovan’s book, “A Child’s Touchstone” (pp. 345-47), reveals that many children with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, flow into the school-to-prison pipeline. In fact a 2015 National Disability Rights Network report “asserts that more than 65 percent of youth in the justice system meet the criteria for a disability, a rate that is three times higher than that of the general population.”
The cost of doing nothing:
Sadly, without proper instruction for dyslexic and learning disabled students human potential dwindles while crime and public assistance costs escalate. The statistics are sobering.
- A 2013 national estimate from the office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reported that in any one day about 54,148 juvenile offenders were held in residential placement facilities. Justice Policy Institute notes that, nationally, it costs $407 per day or $148,767 per year to support just one of these children. California costs run higher at $570 and $208,338.
- The average stay in the system is 21.7 months.
- The lost economic potential of youth ages 16-24 who are “disconnected from education and work” accounts for about $4.7 trillion for the 6.7 million youth affected according to a Columbia University and City University of New York study.
Creating a future template:
Donovan wants others to know that they, too, can rise to the challenges dyslexia brings. Change cannot help but come through a six-prong plan to counter dyslexia’s effects: 1) effectively educate parents, teachers and pediatricians on learning disabilities; 2) educating school districts and administrations on appropriate educational supports and therapies for children with dyslexia; 3) encouraging teacher credential training on dyslexia in higher education; 4) reducing youth incarceration; 5) educating the media and 6) thoughtful legislation. And as the future unfolds, working with organizations such as Decoding Dyslexia, The International Dyslexia Association, the Learning Disabilities Association of America, the California and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Academic Language Therapy Association, the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council and the National Institute for Learning Development, among others will successfully create solutions that benefit dyslexic children and future generations. Answer the call to action on dyslexia at www.achildstouchstone.com. Donovan is available for interviews and speaking engagements.