Sophia Jefferson of Jackson, knew something was wrong with her son. He was shy, didn't talk much and couldn't read. She moved him to different schools. Jefferson was told he had a speech language problem. Eventually he was diagnosed as Dyslexic. Now the 14-year old 8th grader, attends New Summit School, where he receives therapy every day.
"He reads now at home and I'm so excited. He still has a long way to go, but he's here at the right place that understands what his issue is," said Jefferson.
Dyslexia is a brain condition that makes it hard to read, spell and write. Therapists say those with the genetic disorder, often have average to above average IQ's. When the material is taught to meet their learning needs, they do well. Parents and educators are at New Summit for a symposium to learn more about it. Kate Sistrunk, is a therapist at the Mississippi Dyslexia Center, located at New Summit. She was diagnosed in high school.
"My intelligence was there. They always said she's smart. We just think she's lazy and she's not trying," said Sistrunk.
Sistrunk says with encouragement students can be successful. Advocates say one in five students in Mississippi, have Dyslexia and there's no cure. State House Representative Larry Byrd is passionate about it. He has Dyslexia and penned a law that requires screenings.
"Public schools are now mandated to screen for Dyslexia in the spring of Kindergarten and again in the fall of first grade," said Byrd.
The bill also provides scholarships for first through sixth graders diagnosed with the disorder to attend a private or public school that provides specialized therapy. The funding follows them. Byrd says many teachers haven't been trained how to recognize the symptoms. He's working on a bill that requires 15 hours of instruction for all college education majors.