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Published on May 1, 2019
The students hid under tables, had stomach aches, were laughed at by classmates. Going to school was traumatic, because they couldn’t learn to read.
Parents spent thousands of dollars on private testing and tutoring to figure out what was wrong. They discovered that their children had dyslexia, a learning disability that affects one in five individuals and makes it difficult to read and spell.
“There’s no need for families to suffer like this,” said Audie Alumbaugh, with the Arkansas Dyslexia Support Group. “All we need to do is implement the appropriate programs.” Alumbaugh, whose niece has dyslexia, says schools need to teach reading differently, and not just for students with dyslexia.
Alumbaugh and other families successfully pushed lawmakers to change reading instruction in Arkansas. The new approach focuses on explicit instruction in phonics, in which students learn all the patterns of how sounds and letters go together. It’s a method backed by scientific research on the brain and how it learns to process written words.
This reading revolution is happening around the country, pushed in part by parents of children with dyslexia. “We’ve been doing it wrong all this time,” says Alumbaugh, a former teacher herself. “We need to get this right for kids.”