It’s not certain how many people are affected by dyslexia – some estimates pin it as high as 20 percent. What is known is that early identification and intervention can be a big help. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports on Mississippi efforts to raise awareness about dyslexia.
Governor Phil Bryant is getting involved in the dyslexia awareness effort, illuminating the governor’s mansion in red to bring light to the issue. Governor Bryant is dyslexic himself. He talked about some of his struggles earlier this week.
"I repeated the third grade," he says. "I'm dyslexic, so I couldn't read at a third grade level. My mother, the principal and the teacher got together and decided it was best to hold me back. So when a lot of my friends were graduating in 1972, I graduated in 1973. That's OK. I came through it better for the experience."
Maureen K. Martin is director of the DuBard School for Language Disorders at the University of Southern Mississippi. She says early diagnosis and intervention of dyslexia – a reading disorder - is key. That’s because, as she puts it, up until 3rd grade, children learn to read. From that point on, they read to learn.
"They're not able to keep up with the pace of learning that's expected in a typical school setting, and so by starting early, not only do we get the skills started early to help prevent problems early, but we also help those children avoid the problems that come from failure and frustration," she says.
Martin says Mississippi has pockets of excellent intervention in some public and private schools. She would like to see those programs become widely available throughout the state.