Empowering Parents and Teachers: Navigating Dyslexia Together

Region 7 ESC, Blog, Stacey Perkins, dyslexia, dysgraphia
As a special education teacher, I've passed a box of tissue more than once across the table to a parent during an ARD committee meeting. Discussing how to meet your child's needs in light of an identified disability evokes a full gambit of emotions. I know because I've not only sat in ARDs as a teacher, I've also participated as the parent of a child with a disability. One thing that empowered me, as a parent of a pre-schooler with a disability, was to learn about my child's disability and research ways to reduce the impact of it.
Since dyslexia is the most common learning disability (Shaywitz p. 28), I've opted to focus the remainder of this blog post on sharing resources that will empower teachers and parents, alike, with information about the nature of dyslexia and how to reduce the impact of it.
First, the International Dyslexia Association has curated a 31-volume collection of Fact Sheets. These digestible, 2- to 3-page articles offer parents and educators bite-sized, just-in-time learning opportunities on topics such as ADHD and Dyslexia, Dyslexia and the Brain, Homeschooling, and Transitioning from High School to College. Many articles are available not only in English, but in Spanish as well.
Dyslexia resources are also available from the Texas Education Agency. TEA boasts a robust collection of guidance and informational documents on its Dyslexia and Related Disorders webpage. The most prominent resource is The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders (2021). It comprises five chapters that help the reader understand what dyslexia is, how to screen and evaluate for it, and how to intervene appropriately once it is identified. Additionally, The Dyslexia Handbook includes a chapter on the related disability of dysgraphia. Our state dyslexia handbook has been revised many times since the first iteration was approved by the State Board of Education in 1986 (The Dyslexia Handbook, p. 6), and another revision to the current handbook is expected by June 2024.

Upcoming Opportunities 

Finally, Region 7 school staff can look to their Educational Service Center for up-to-date information and training on the topic of dyslexia and related disorders. Upcoming Fall workshops include:

I'd be remiss if I ended this post without addressing assistive technology. People with reading difficulties--including dyslexia--not only benefit from assistive technology but also gain independence with its use. One of my favorite assistive tech tools is Immersive Reader. Immersive Reader offers reading supports such as text-to-speech, syllable division, language translation, an embedded picture dictionary, and so much more! Immersive Reader is embedded into most Microsoft products, and--fairly recently-- an unofficial version of Immersive Reader became available in the Google ecosystem as a Chrome extension
With thirty years of my career in the rearview mirror, my perspective has been shaped by personal and professional experiences. If I've learned anything, it's to equip conference rooms with a box of tissue and ARD Committees with information. 
Region 7 ESC - Stacey Perkins, Dyslexia Specialist Stacey Perkins has served in the field of education for 30 years, working with students ranging from elementary to post-secondary. Her years as a general educator, special educator, and dyslexia specialist prepared her to assume a role as district Section 504 and Dyslexia Coordinator. She currently works as a Special Education Specialist at Region 7 Education Service Center where her primary role is serving district staff who serve students with disabilities. Stacey trains primarily on the topics of inclusionary practices, Dyslexia and related disorders, and Section 504. 
Shaywitz, S., & Shaywitz, J. (2020). Overcoming Dyslexia: Second Edition, Completely Revised and Updated. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Immersive reader product guide - microsoft learn educator center. product guide - Microsoft Learn Educator Center | Microsoft Learn. https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/training/educator-center/product-guides/immersive-reader/ 

Fact sheets. International Dyslexia Association. (2022, December 20). https://dyslexiaida.org/fact-sheets/ 
Texas Education Agency. (September 2021). The Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.