On Saturday, January 26th, Millersville University hosted a conference about dyslexia and strategies for making students with dyslexia successful.
The morning’s main sessions included a description of dyslexia and its subtypes by Dr. Peg Kay, an inspirational speech by advocate Sara Page Stinchcomb, and the premiere of a film about dyslexia by Dr. Stacey Irwin, Raising Faith.
Reviewing the types of dyslexia, Dr. Kay emphasized that recognizing dyslexia early can dramatically reduce the challenges people with dyslexia face. The window to address the issues runs up until 3rd grade. Several attendees recounted that local school districts tend to tell parents that students may “grow out of it” and that parents should wait until 3rd grade to request accommodations; this strategy hurts students. Ms. Sara Page Stinchcomb then gave an inspirational speech about the need to change attitudes about dyslexia; she received a standing ovation from the audience. To finish the morning sessions, Dr. Irwin’s film explored many different perspectives on dyslexia from students with dyslexia and their families. Families were particularly struck by hearing stories similar to their own. Audience members then asked questions of the experts in attendance.
The morning sessions were followed by a rousing keynote address by Marilyn Bartlett of her decade-long struggle to receive accommodations for the NY Bar. The keynote address was attended by 95 students, community members, and faculty members, many of whom resonated with the struggles to attain equity in educational endeavors either as people with dyslexia or as advocates for people with educational challenges.
The day continued with 15 different breakout sessions to help families, teachers, administrators, and people with dyslexia. The sessions were well attended by teachers, students, parents, administrators, advocates, and friends.
Dr. Janet Josephson held an extremely popular session on how dyslexia presents. The crowded Stayer multipurpose room attested to the regional interest in understanding dyslexia. Dr. Pamela Kastner, the statewide lead for Literacy (PaTTAN), provided two informative sessions on phonics, which were particularly popular with teachers.
The breakout sessions provided important and useful information for people with dyslexia, their families, and teachers. For example, Dr. Bartlett recommended books like Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy. Sessions on the differences between the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA-AA were particularly appreciated by Millersville Education students, regional professionals, and parents.
Some regional resources for students with dyslexia were also discussed in the sessions. These included the Children’s Dyslexia Center, the Delaware Valley Friends School (DVFS), and psychologists like Dr. Margaret Kay. Parents, in particular, were grateful to have a game plan for addressing their children’s needs.
Overall, attendees were excited to talk about an issue that is particularly important to them, and were grateful for both the information and the resources presented.