Students overcoming difficulty with languageDyslexia is a condition that tends to show up when learning to read and can be remedied.
By: Bill Kirk, The Republican Eagle
Dyslexia is a condition that tends to show up when learning to read and can be remedied.
This difficulty with language has been experienced by at least three elementary school students in the Ellsworth area, who have taken it on by attending the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Upper Wisconsin in Eau Claire.
“They go to the center to ‘decode’,” said Cindy Feuerhelm, mother of 11-year-old Erica, one of the trio. The others are Cody Gipson, age 11, and Carter Peterson, 10.
The local students travel the 70-some miles to one-hour sessions twice a week during the regular school term and for two weeks on, then two weeks off during the summers, they said. There they’re tutored on a one-to-one basis. The center serves 16 to 20 youths from western Wisconsin.
“We work on sounds and letters,” Erica Feuerhelm said, telling typical activities during the sessions.
The students write letters in the alphabet in a sand tray, Peterson said as an example, enabling them to not only visualize, but use sensory skills. They study “blends” and diagrams, Gipson said. Once they master a skill, they advance through various levels, Feuerhelm added.
“The length of time they’ll be in the program depends on the individual,” Feuerhelm said.
Her daughter got behind in reading while in the first grade, she said. The family worked with Ellsworth public school officials, trying Title I and other tutoring. Then the now-sixth-grader at Ellsworth Middle School was diagnosed with dyslexia.
Peterson, who’s a fourth-grader at Hillcrest Elementary, said he started at the center a year ago, having been diagnosed in the third grade. EMS fifth-grader Gipson began at the center in January, diagnosed at the end of third grade.
The condition can be hereditary; Peterson said someone in his mother’s family had it.
Feuerhelm said she appreciates the accommodations arranged by the local schools for the students with dyslexia, mentioning a simulation to give a realistic perspective of what it feels like to have dyslexia was conducted during a teacher’s conference here last winter. Some testing is done locally for learning disabilities, but more specialized testing needs to be done, either with a psychologist or a specially trained education specialist in dyslexia or other related learning disabilities, she said.
“The school does offer some help, but the students need outside certified dyslexic specialists,” she said.
It is a myth that dyslexic individuals “read backwards,” according to Feuerhelm. Spelling is jumbled at times because students have trouble remembering letter symbols for sounds and forming memories for words. These students can be so focused on reading each word that they never gain the comprehension of the story.
With early detection and treatment, children with dyslexia can and succeed academically. The three students agree they’ve made progress.
“Some of the world’s most famous artists, innovators and leaders were and are dyslexic, including Leonardo daVinci, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Agatha Christie, William Hewlitt, Winston Churchill, Tom Cruise, Henry (“Fonzie”) Winkler, Cher, Jay Leno and Charles Schwab,” Feuerhelm said.
For more information about dyslexia, visit www.wicdc.org, www.ncld.org, www.interdys.org or www.ida-umb.org.