Kansas City Star: Kansas is one of few states without laws to help dyslexic kids
By Katy Bergen, photo by Keith Myers
Three years ago, Frieda Tresvan stumbled upon a Facebook video describing symptoms that perfectly matched her son.
Antonio struggled to grasp the sounds letters make. He could write only about half the letters in the alphabet. He had fallen behind his peers in the second grade in the Kansas City, Kan., school district.
She suddenly suspected he had dyslexia.
But while experts say up to 1 in 5 people could have the learning disability that hampers the ability to read, the district never mentioned the possibility.
In Kansas, school districts are not required to recognize dyslexia as different from other learning delays. Nor are they required to screen children specifically for dyslexia. Even after a diagnosis, school administrators, advocates and parents sometimes disagree on the most efficient and legal way to support dyslexic schoolchildren.
When Children’s Mercy started to test for dyslexia a little more than a decade ago, just two staff members were needed to handle a few evaluations a month.
Today, eight speech language pathologists conduct 50 to 60 evaluations a month. At the end of July, the department was scheduling appointments into October.
As more people become aware of dyslexia and ways to address it, more and more parents are seeking out evaluations. But because schools don’t explicitly screen for dyslexia, children are most likely to get a diagnosis from an outside psychologist or speech language pathologist working with a student already showing signs of reading difficulty.
“In Kansas City, we do a ton of evaluations,” said Chris Scranton, a speech language pathologist at the hospital. “We are probably where most people are headed. It’s definitely grown over time.”
Many people wrongly think that dyslexia involves reading backward or interchanging certain letters. But dyslexia is not a visual disability but a phonological one. Students who are dyslexic struggle to connect sounds to letters, and as a result find reading, spelling or recognizing words difficult.
Learn more about Speech and Hearing services at Children's Mercy.