What is your advice to parents of struggling readers?
Parents have a great challenge in navigating the school systems on behalf of their children, and the best thing that they can do is to get some form of evaluation, which can be a huge challenge. They're often expensive. They're not promoted by the school. But parents who advocate for their children often are effective, and without that, unfortunately, the school systems sometimes wait.
Understandably, they're waiting to make it really clear who's a struggling reader. But we know — from everything we know from education and psychology and neuroscience — waiting is not a good strategy. Waiting for failure and beginning with that is waiting too long. So I think that the parents just to be as active as they can. It's often a great struggle, depending on the teacher and the school they deal with.
There's an incredible variation in how understanding and supportive schools are. And I've talked with many parents who are very frustrated about what seemed to be a slow or confused response from their school. One of the things that's confusing is that many schools will say that we cannot tell you your child has dyslexia. And this is a kind of a arcane technical point about what dyslexia means as a label, and whether it's a clinical label or an educational label.
But for many parents it's much more confusing, because there's a commonsense use of the term — is what parents go by. So this is very confusing that the use of that terminology alone has been a source of great frustration for families trying to understand why their children struggle.
John Gabrieli Ph.D.
John Gabrieli is a neuroscientist at MIT, and an associate member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. He uses imaging and behavioral tests to understand how the human brain powers learning, thinking, and feeling.
The research reported here is funded by awards to the National Center on Improving Literacy from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, in partnership with the Office of Special Education Programs (Award #: S283D160003). The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of OESE, OSEP, or the U.S. Department of Education. Copyright © 2023 National Center on Improving Literacy. https://improvingliteracy.org