I am a special education teacher of 30 years. I have taught every category of students with disability, including autism. But it seems now that autism is everyone’s main focus. Lobbying groups are huge – they receive everything. On the contrary, these same advantages are not enjoyed by the dyslexic population of special ed. Dyslexia is the invisible disability.
The “D” word is often not allowed in schools. Children are not tested specifically for it and rarely treated. Parents are told their children with receive “accommodations.” No one bothers to remediate them. Or, worthless goals and objectives are placed in the IEP for a “reading disability”.
Students with dyslexia can be completely remediated with the proper multisensory training. Once they are taught to read by the proper method, they can do anything. Unfortunately, I have seen these students relegated to “learned helplessness” by systems who just push them through.
You speak our language. I am dyslexic.
I was remediated for two years, one on one, hour a day, 5 days a week, using strict Orton-Gillingham, by Diana Hanbury King,one of the world’s best. Many years later, Diana founded Kildonan School (http://www.kildonan.org). In the summer, I attended Camp Mansfield, founded by Helene Dubrow, one of Orton’s disciples. There I was tutored by Roger Saunders, past president of the Orton Dyslexia Society, i.e., now the International Dyslexia Association.
I had intensive remediation from two who are now considered to be the best in the world.
In the early 70’s when I was a juvenile probation officer, I did several presentations at the national conferences of what was known at that time as the Orton Dyslexia Society and the Association of Children with Learning Disabilities. I discussed the relationship between Dyslexia, LD, and Juvenile Delinquency.
A Shift in the National Trend
Today, Wrightslaw’s Special Ed Advocate, has over 81,000 subscribers. Easily 80% of the emails we receive about our newsletter and website are from parents of children with autism seeking help, in crisis, or asking questions. The autism cases are far greater in frequency and number than dyslexia cases. A shift has occurred. It was not that way 10 years ago.
In the early 80’s most of my cases were labeling and eligibility issues. Mid 80’s through early 90’s, cases shifted to tuition reimbursement for private placements of children with dyslexia or LD into private day or residential schools. My cases pretty much tracked the national trend.
After my US Supreme Court Carter case in 93, tuition reimbursement cases continued. With Lovaas and ABA now being reimbursable, these cases began to increase in number to a virtual flood of litigation that surpassed dyslexia/LD reimbursement cases in great numbers.
Parents in Crisis
More and more of our conferences are organized by parents of children with autism. We have noticed that parents of children with autism are more obsessional, more driven. Reason? Our belief is that often their kids were developing normally. Somewhere between 18-20 months of age, within a 2 month timespan, these children lost communication skills, became inward, withdrawn, perseverative, etc. and the parents “lost” their child. The devastation is incredible. Parents are driven to “recover” their child.
Parents of children with dyslexia and/or LD may notice speech delay, then reversals, then sequencing and sound/symbol relationship problems. It is slow and the child’s personality is still there. I know, it happened with my oldest son. Before he was two, I began with intense speech language therapy. With both of my sons, I became their Orton-Gillingham tutor.
Bottom line, I agree with your observations. But the reason it may appear there is more focus on autism than dyslexia is because more parents of children contact us because they are in crisis or they want us to do our Wrightslaw training program. Legal cases with autism are more frequent than those involving dyslexia.