Advocates say the DOE doesn't provide enough specialized support for struggling readers.
Hawaii boasts one of the most progressive schools for children with dyslexia, and one of the strongest brances of IDA! Aloha to Paul Singer Head at Assets School and Ryan Masa President of the Board at the Hawaii Branch of the International Dyslexia Association!--Lou
"Research indicates that nearly one in every five people has dyslexia or a similar language-based learning disability. That would translate into an estimated 280,000 people in Hawaii, according to the International Dyslexia Association’s Hawaii branch (HIDA).
Still, experts say stories like Nekota’s are common because Hawaii’s public school system isn’t equipped with the tools it needs to support students who have dyslexia or similar reading disabilities. Schools often end up pigeonholing the students into generic special needs classes or don’t do anything at all, they say.
“They haven’t been addressing them (dyslexic students),” said Paul Singer, who heads Assets School, a private school serving roughly 340 students, the bulk of whom have dyslexia. “I don’t know that they’ve even recognized their existence.”
Dyslexia is a neurological, likely genetic language-based learning disability that can make it difficult to recognize the basic sounds of speech in letters — a technique sometimes referred to as decoding. The inability to connect letters with sounds makes it challenging to blend those sounds into words, which can often take a toll on comprehension. People with dyslexia typically have difficulty with a range of language skills, including reading, spelling, writing and pronunciation.
“What we know about children with dyslexia is that their brains are wired differently,” said Ryan Masa, president of the HIDA's board of directors and a former teacher. “That’s not good or bad — it’s just different. And we need specific training to help them read. It’s all about cracking the code.”
And both the children themselves and society at-large suffer when dyslexia goes unaddressed, Masa said, citing chronic psychological problems and increased public education spending as examples of what can happen when dyslexic students never get help cracking the code..." (Read part two of this series to learn more about the repercussions of undiagnosed or unsupported dyslexia.)