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KS: Teachers need to be trained in dyslexia; genetic disorder affects 1/5, big demand

Aug 6, 2018, Kansas City (MO) Star: Kansas is one of few states without laws to help dyslexic kids. Are changes coming? …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. … Across the country, parent-led movements have brought about dyslexia laws that require screenings, teacher training and support specifically for dyslexia. But Kansas is one of a handful of states in the nation that does not have such mandates…. 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. … This past spring, state Reps. Shelee Brim and Tom Cox, both Shawnee Republicans, introduced a bill that would have required schools to screen children for dyslexia…. That’s a goal that advocates say is crucial as dyslexia issues in school districts continue to grow. Bigger demand 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. … The disorder, which is thought to be genetic, exists on a spectrum. Some with dyslexia struggle immediately and fall quickly behind in school. Others learn to compensate, and because their grades remain high they are not diagnosed until middle or high school, when they can’t keep up with workloads. … “The major difficulty is that the people who are in the school system are not trained in the science of reading,” Hurford said. “It’s how to identify (dyslexia) and how to remediate. It’s not that teachers don’t want to do it. It’s that they don’t know how.” … Still, in recent years, some school districts have found ways to bring dyslexia-specific training to educators. Hurford said he has traveled to districts including Olathe, Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley to host seminars for teachers. … But tutoring costs up to $85 an hour, and many consultants required that parents buy into a contract that would guarantee the number of sessions over a matter of months. She explored transferring Antonio to Horizon Academy, a private school in Roeland Park for students with learning disabilities, but she couldn’t afford the $25,000 tuition. …

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