Will my child outgrow dyslexia? How can I best advocate for services for my child? How early should my child be screened?
These were among the questions and concerns parents raised during Wilson Language Training’s third annual Parent Night, held October 4 at Wilson’s campus in Oxford, MA. The three-hour event, “Empowering Parents with Knowledge to Support Students with Dyslexia,” provided participants with an opportunity to engage in a frank and informative dialogue with a panel of experts, and Wilson co-founders Barbara and Ed Wilson.
Approximately 50 parents from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania attended.
Panelists included developmental psychologist and reading expert Dr. Lorna Kaufman, author of Smart Kid, Can’t Read: 5 Steps Any Parent Can Take to Get Help; Nancy Duggan, a parent of a child with dyslexia and founding member of Decoding Dyslexia-Massachusetts; and Deanna Fogarty, Program Director for Intensive Intervention Literacy Initiatives at Wilson Language Training and also the parent of a child with dyslexia.
Throughout the evening, they fielded questions about dyslexia, assessment and evaluation, and advocacy, and shared information about the available resources and effective strategies for helping children access the tools and support they need to succeed academically.
“Dyslexia is neurologically based. Can you outgrow it? No, but you can learn to read and you can learn to write and you can learn to spell. You can acquire the skills,” Dr. Kaufman explained in response to a parent’s question about what to anticipate in the future.
The panelists concurred that early, scientific screening and evaluation is a first step toward understanding precisely which services parents need to advocate for on behalf of their children. Engaging children in an evidence-based program such as the Wilson Reading System® with fidelity, and connecting with other parents and advocacy groups to enhance their knowledge are also among the keys to success.
Barbara acknowledged the challenges that parents face and encouraged them to continue their efforts, sharing that, “There is so much to learn and so much to navigate…You as parents are so very important to your child with dyslexia.” She concluded by underscoring the importance of early screening and support for children with dyslexia.
Cigdem Knebel of Pennsylvania attended to learn more about dyslexia and to share the progress her third-grade son is experiencing since beginning the Wilson Reading System over a year ago. “This has been magical for us. It’s really changed our lives. As he started reading, it was like he was building stamina. He could read longer and became more confident,” she said.
“I came to learn how to become a stronger advocate, and I learned a lot,” said Connecticut parent Heather Beausoleil.