Dyslexia…it has been the root of so many sleepless nights, arguments with just about everyone: my husband, my kids, their schools. It’s exhausting. The good news is that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. The important thing is to not give up and trust your gut!
You know your children better than anyone and you are their best advocate.
So, the game changer for me in becoming an advocate for my children was to truly know more. Know more than the school, or at least as much. Trust me, it is actually not that hard to do. A few hours on google and you could learn quite a bit and be in position of power when it comes to helping your child get what she needs in the classroom to be successful.
One of the first things I did was join the International Dyslexia Association.
As a member, I was able to access all sorts of scientific and researched-based information online that answered so many of my questions about Dyslexia. It also registered me as member of my local IDA branch. This community keeps me updated on outreach opportunities within my own community.
Speaking of local, look for every opportunity to learn about Dyslexia. Look for workshops, conferences, and presentations in your community. Attending my first big conference prepared me for the tough discussions with teachers and administrators. It also gave me the confidence I needed to sit in my kids’ 504 meetings and really advocate for them. You don’t have to be a teacher or work for a school to attend these conferences. I was probably one of the only people that wasn’t a teacher or administrator at my first conference.
I also follow several different Dyslexia Intervention and Advocacy FaceBook pages. So daily for the last three years, I have had amazing articles about Dyslexia pop up on my screen for me to read and learn from credible resources. It has served as a place for me to ask questions and get immediate responses and feel part of the community of like people dealing with the same challenges I am. Oh yes…and it’s FREE!
Next, I educated myself about the State and Federal laws on Dyslexia. Just google Dyslexia laws and “your state”. This is so important if you end up having to go to battle with your school like I did. Don’t succumb to the belief that schools are Dyslexia experts.
Ask them lots of questions:
What if the RTI doesn’t work? Show me written school policy or the IDEA law that supports your decision to wait to test? Are you aware that IDEA does not support waiting to test because the school wants to try RTI?
Remember early detection is critical. Research has shown now that we can test now as early Kindergarten for Dyslexia.
Listen, I can promise you this, you probably will make waves by taking this approach. I can also promise you that by standing up for your children and advocating for their rights, you will maximize their chances of getting the services and accommodations they need to be confident, capable students.
Final thoughts…I’m not a Dyslexia expert. I am a parent though that probably knows more than the average person, and you can be that for your child too. It takes time, and some heartache, but you too can empower yourself and others to be the best advocate for your children.
Be fearless, be strong, trust your gut, and never give up!
This post was written by a Guest Submission from Tricia Cantwell. Tricia is a passionate Parent Advocate & former teacher. She holds an undergraduate degree in Human Development & Family Studies and a masters degree in Guidance & Counseling. Tricia currently serves on the Executive Board of the IDA, Austin & Outreach Committee for IDA, San Antonio. Richmond Moms Blog is honored to share her story and insight today.