On Thursday I went to the Tennessee chapter of the International Dyslexia Association‘s annual forum in Murphressboro, TN. They held a round-table discussion with 7 women, two of which held doctorates and all of which had backgrounds either in education or in Dyslexia testing and assistance.

Here’s a few things I learned about Diagnosis that I didn’t know (0r was reminded of)

1. Any possible case of dyslexia should be diagnosed!

Apparently, the State of Tennessee has a Dyslexia Testing Center in Murphressboro that offers it’s services free of charge (with a $25 processing fee) to residents! Who knew? Also- MTSU has an entire Dyslexia research thing (technical, I know) that is making all kinds of strides in that area. Dr. Aimee Holt, a professor at MTSU who has Dyslexia AND her doctorate, spoke to us very eloquently about getting your student diagnosed and the benefits that can come from that.

Dr. Holt told us about growing up with a cousin of hers. They were good friends growing up and she knew he was very smart- as smart as she was, certainly. But their mothers had different techniques with each of them. Her mom took her to get tested and then fought for interventions in her school. (She didn’t specify what her Aunt did, for the record.) Now she has her Doctorate and is doing active research, as well as teaching psychology. Her cousin dropped out of High School, never went to college and  is working in a factory and has just risen to the rank of Manager. Is there anything wrong with working in a factory? Of course not! However, he was limited on his options from an early age because he never received the assistance he required.

Their Diagnosis? Always test a potential Dyslexic. The difference could be huge!

2. The Earlier the Diagnosis, The Better the outcome

Judy Oliff, an educator of several decades, told us about two 5th Grade boys who had only just been diagnosed with Dyslexia. (Up until this point they’d been placed in Special Ed classes.) She told us about the amazing progress they had made in just a few months. While this was good news – I sobered very quickly when she reminded us that yes, the interventions they were using were working great. But the boys were making such slow progress that even by the end of the year they would be at an early elementary level of reading and would still be moved up to sixth grade, out of her ability to help them. (She is currently helping them on the side, in addition to her work.) They may eventually- with dedicated teacher- reach a level of reading fluency that they can use in the world, but it’ll be hard for them as they move into Middle School, then High School. By High School one needs to be making grades good enough for scholarships and college applications- they will have a slim chance of that.

She also told us about a 3rd grade girl who had just been diagnosed. She, too, was at a lower reading level than her peers. But since they caught it in 3rd grade they could make minor adjustments and modifications to her work and with some extra tutoring she would reach and stay within the accepted ability range for her age group.

3. An Official Diagnosis Makes a Difference Later in Educations

Dr. Holt also pointed out that a student who has an official Diagnosis is far more likely to receive Accommodations or Modifications in Middle and High School as well as College. These Accommodations make a HUGE difference to the success or failure of a student. (Ask me- This I know.)

Hope these were helpful- look for more posts on TNIDA coming soon!

Sarah

Up Next: Guest Post from Liz Dunoon: Mother, Teacher and Author from Australia!

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