October is National Dyslexia Awareness month.
According to the National Institute of Health, one in five people have symptoms of dyslexia, a language-based learning disability.
However, the NIH adds that while dyslexia is one of the most common causes of reading difficulties in elementary school children, “only one in ten dyslexics will quality for an IEP (Independent Educational Program) and special education that will allow them to get the help in reading that they need.”
Before we get too much further, let’s be clear – before you think of dyslexia as some sort of stigma, consider just a few of these dyslexics: Edison, Spielberg, Gates.
As Becky St. Marie explained to me this week, the left side of a “normal” brain is about 10% bigger than the right.
In a person with dyslexia, both sides of the brain are relatively the same size.
As St. Marie explained, the left side of the brain is the side that does the “fine” work – the spelling, math, et. al. The right side is typically the “creative” side.
So … a person who has dyslexia may have greater creativity as well as a greater entrepreneurial flair than your average person.
You may ask yourself, why does Becky St. Marie know so much about this?
Well, Becky’s 4th grade daughter has been diagnosed as dyslexic. To finally root out that diagnosis, Becky had to take her daughter to a specialist in the San Diego area.
After the diagnosis was made and Becky began tutoring her daughter, she also noticed (Becky works as an aide in the Round Valley School) that a few of the other children at Round Valley School exhibited certain “tells” and behaviors that she had recognized in her daughter.
It made her wonder if there weren’t other children in the area who may need a little help.
Because she couldn’t find anyone locally who could address the problem, St. Marie (along with her sister Eleana Childs, who lives in Walker) flew to Seattle this past June to attend a six-day dyslexia screening seminar.
Since her return from the seminar, she has screened five children and also offers tutoring services using the Orton Gillingham method. St. Marie said you can teach dyslexics to switch the side of the brain they use for reading – a re-wire of sorts.
Dyslexia is an inherited trait. St. Marie’s husband Joel is dyslexic, which is why she had her daughter tested. He is a professional photographer and manages Mammoth Gallery.
As St. Marie says, “dyslexia is very misunderstood… and the schools just don’t have a lot of the latest research.”
Mono County’s Director of Special Education Jenny Huh told The Sheet that while dyslexia is not a term used in California, “we just call it something else… it’s not that we’re not identifying it or addressing it.”
But what Huh stressed is that the schools seek to identify general disabilities and do not specifically test for dyslexia.
To date, approximately 12% of the Mono County student population has been identified with some form of a learning disability.
St. Marie keeps an office at 126 N. Main Street in Bishop and can be reached at 760.920.8769. A full dyslexia screening costs $525. St. Marie’s tutorial rate is $35/hour.