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Weston, CT: Mom starts dyslexia group to empower parents

June 11, 2023, Darien (CT) Times: Weston mom creates dyslexia advocacy group to 'educate and empower' parents

WESTON — Jennifer Bernheim's son, Evan, started showing he was having trouble reading about four years ago when he was in kindergarten.

"It would take him 30 minutes to write a sentence, and I just didn't understand why," Bernheim said.

However, she said he was intuitive, sensitive and aware, which are characteristics that can be present in people with dyslexia.

It turned out to be dyslexia, but he wasn't diagnosed until second grade.

Now, she's created Right to Read Advocacy to help other families in similar situations. She works with a child’s school team to develop an individualized education plan, including measurable goals, objectives and ways to evaluate monthly data.

Bernheim said she is working to create a portal with quick tips regarding dyslexia to make information more comprehensive for parents. …

Bernheim said she not only can educate and empower parents, but actually sit in with them during planning and placement team meetings at schools as an advocate, to help manage and navigate the conversations, which can involve student evaluations.

"They're quite overwhelming," she said about the meetings, which can last up to two hours.

Currently, she said there are a handful of clients she's helping, but it is growing, with more parents reaching out.

It works on a fixed-fee pricing model, which can help parents budget for the educational investment, rather than hourly rates.

Bernheim said the education plans are specific to each student and based upon their needs. Ideally, she said a child would be evaluated, deficits would be determined and goals would be set. …

Bernheim said it can be cumbersome. For her child, the individualized education plan was about 40 pages by the end of second grade. …

Bernheim said the keys are early identification and intervention. Sometimes, students aren't diagnosed until middle school, even though they have been evaluated for years.

She said she wants to encourage parents not to let summer pass by if they have a concern about their child's reading ability.

"Now is a great time to have a quick screener," she said, adding The Southport School offers it for free to determine reading difficulties, which parents can bring back to their respective school district.


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