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Fort Collins, CO: 'Our schools don’t...have the proper services' [for dyslexia]

Aug 9, 2018, Fort Collins Coloradoan: Parents, Poudre School District struggle to help dyslexic kids keep pace with peers About 1 in 5 people have some symptom of dyslexia, according to the International Dyslexia Association. At its core, people with dyslexia struggle with word recognition, reading fluency, spelling and writing. … Joy Short is the director of the NOCO Dyslexia Center in Fort Collins. Before she started the center, she was a teacher in Denver. She didn’t know much about dyslexia until she left the classroom to tutor full-time and did research on her own. The center now has 50 students enrolled in regular tutoring, she said, and has screened 150 students in the last two years. It takes calls daily from parents looking to learn more. As a private practice center, Short said, it tends to attract families who feel they don't get enough support from public schools. NOCO Dyslexia Center has a list of PSD schools it deemed to have the proper support available — such as specific curriculum and tutoring — to help kids with dyslexia, Short said. They give it to parents who come in, but she declined to give the list to the Coloradoan in fear of flooding the schools with prospective students. There are four schools in Fort Collins, one in Windsor and one in Loveland on the list, she said. There are 50 schools and four charter schools in PSD — so according to Short, about 8 percent of schools in the district make the list. "Our schools don’t commonly have the proper services,” Short said. “That’s where the problem stems from. ... But PSD and Thompson are working to change that, to get programs in." In the 2017-18 school year, 35.9 percent of the 2,541 special education students enrolled in PSD fell under the "specific learning disabilities" category that includes dyslexic students, according to the district's website. Heather Bakas said she had a hard time getting the right help for her son at first. He had reading interventions and tutoring early on, but they didn't help much. She later learned those methods didn't work for dyslexic students, she said. … Now the district is working to increase teacher awareness of dyslexia. “Teachers may have heard the word (dyslexia),” Stahl said. “But their level of exposure depends on their courses at the university level.” According to materials provided by the district, PSD created a district-wide roll out plan to increase awareness this year. The district asked each elementary school to identify two teachers to participate in a group focused on dyslexia and struggling readers. … Over the summer, Melissa and Rob enrolled Will in Rocky Mountain Camp, a summer camp for dyslexic kids they heard about on the radio. It’s a five-week camp based in Evergreen, 90 miles from Fort Collins. Payne enrolled her son in the camp, too. … Tuition costs about $6,000. Couple that with Will's tutoring — two hours of private tutoring each week at $50 per session — and the cost of private help to catch up can add up. …

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