Together with Hood River County Library District, Columbia Gorge Dyslexia Fund and the Columbia Gorge Chapter of Decoding Dyslexia invite all to attend a month of free activities in honor of October’s Dyslexia Awareness Month and in celebration of the newly enacted state law that promises to change the experience of Oregon’s dyslexic students for years to come. The month will kickoff with a showing of Dislecksia: The Movie on Saturday, October 3, at 3.00p. There will also be a training on Saturday, October 17, at 3:00pm for families who want to learn to advocate for their dyslexic children in school. Both events will be at the Hood River Library.

The new law requires Oregon school districts help teachers understand dyslexia so they can instruct students with dyslexia more effectively. Over the next 3 years, every school district must ensure that at least one teacher is trained in recognizing and understanding dyslexia, and in providing instruction that is explicit, systematic, and evidence-based. In the next year, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) must develop a plan where every kindergartner and first grader entering public school is screened for the warning signs of dyslexia and to report these results to parents. This plan will then be taken up by the Legislature for eventual implementation statewide. ODE must also designate a full-time Dyslexia Specialist to support and provide resources to schools and families of dyslexic students. Oregon joins 31 other states that have enacted dyslexia-related legislation.

“We are very excited about the passage of the law. This brings us one step closer to helping ALL children reach their fullest potential and that is something to celebrate,” said Julie Rocha Buel, Co-Founder of Columbia Gorge Dyslexia Fund, which is dedicated to empowering parents and educators with resources to help dyslexic children reach their greatest potential. Members of the Columbia Gorge Chapter of Decoding Dyslexia Oregon worked to pass the legislation and traveled to Salem with their children last March for a rally and hearing on the bill.

Members of the Columbia Gorge Chapter of Decoding Dyslexia Oregon at a March 2015 rally at the Oregon State Capitol

In March 2015, members of the Columbia Gorge Chapter of Decoding Dyslexia Oregon held a rally in support of recent legislation on dyslexia, which the Legislature passed last session. L to R: Nolan Rocha Buel, Julie Rocha Buel, Nivia Rocha Buel, Kathryn McElwee, Donna Schumacher, Harry Schumacher, Susan DeBonis, Cozzi DeBonis, Karen Holt, Stella Waag, and Natalie Schumacher

Dyslexia is a common, neurological condition, known to run in families, that makes it difficult to learn how to read, write, and spell. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as one in five students are dyslexics. In Oregon, that is approximately 114,200 public school students with dyslexia. In Hood River County, that could mean 812 students have some degree of dyslexia. Yet Oregon’s teacher education programs typically do not provide coursework on dyslexia that would enable them to identify and teach these bright and capable students.

The kick-off event is the showing of a film, Dislecksia: The Movie, on Saturday, October 3, at 3:00pm. The documentary by filmmaker Harvey Hubbell, who is himself dyslexic, wryly recounts growing up in the 1960s and 1970s frustrated by a condition few could identify, let alone treat. Both poignant and comical, the film features Supreme Court lawyer David Boies, television writer Stephen J. Cannell, and actor Billy Bob Thornton, among others, who discuss how dealing with dyslexia led to their personal successes.
On October 17th, from 3-5:30 pm, Families And Community Together (FACT) will provide training to families who want to become advocates for their children in school. Participants will learn about the IEP/504 process and be able to create goals to ensure their children receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), which is guaranteed under federal law.

Among the wide variety of information sources to be displayed at the library is a banner of local and famous dyslexics. “It is inspiring for youngsters who struggle with dyslexia to see that people like Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Nobel Prize winner geneticist Carol Greider, or Steven Spielberg are wired the same way they are,” said Susan DeBonis, parent and member of Decoding Dylexia. “And it’s important for the rest of the ‘non-dyslexics’ to understand how people with dyslexia very often have much-needed gifts to share.”

The local pictures of both adults and children from our community aims to dispel the myth that dyslexia is something to be ashamed of or something to hide. “It’s time for the stigma of dyslexia to end,” said Donna Schumacher of Decoding Dyslexia. “Being a fast reader and a good speller should not be the only ticket to success in school. We are happy to be part of the effort to shift our understanding.”

The display also will include information about the new law. “In the big picture, this law gives many frustrated parents a new way to approach their children’s teachers and administrators.” Said Susan DeBonis. “Now parents will be able to go to their principals and ask, ‘which teacher is the one who is trained in dyslexia? That alone is a major step forward.”

The display and two events are free and open to the public. For more information, please contact us.