This item originally appeared in the Feb. 19, 2004, issue of The Tech Talk.
By MEGAN SMITH
Guided by community needs, the College of Education Academic Excellence Committee sponsored a symposium on dyslexia.
Dr. Tony Young, department head associate of psychology and behavioral sciences, said the committee tries to anticipate issues that would be of importance to children, parents and faculty in the community.
More than 50 students, faculty and community members gathered Feb. 12 in the A.E. Phillips Laboratory School to hear different perspectives on dyslexia.
Five panelists discussed dyslexia from the viewpoint of teachers, parents, scientific and personal of the learning disability.
Methods for teaching and awareness of the laws, personal reflections, testing options and scientific research were all presented to the audience.
Dr. Jeffrey Walczyk, an associate professor of psychology and behavioral sciences, gave the scientific perspective on dyslexia.
“I was the research guy, so I read a lot of research articles in preparation for the symposium,” Walczyk said.
Although Walczyk’s main focus of research is not on dyslexia, he said his research is relevant.
“I have done a lot of research with normal reading, but I have done research on how people compensate for reading problems,” Walczyk said. “So I suspect sometime in the future I may move over to study dyslexia.”
Walczyk said information about dyslexia is an important issue.
“Five to eight percent of all children have some form of dyslexia,” Walczyk said. “It is one of those learning disabilities that are hard to treat.”
Walczyk said the ability to read is very important in America and the world.
“If you cannot read in our society, you fall behind. There is no question about that,” Walczyk said. “Students cannot do as well in college, and you don’t have access to the rich world of knowledge that books and journals provide.”
Katie Peacock, a junior elementary education major, gave the audience a personal perspective of dyslexia.
“I would want people to understand that we do not process information the same way as everybody else,” Peacock said. “It was reading, reading comprehension and spelling that I struggled a lot with.”
Peacock said she would love for people to know what it is like on the inside, because it is hard for people who do not struggle to understand.
“We do not value walking everyday, but somebody in a wheelchair that has never walked before doesn’t even know what it is like to have grass underneath their feet,” Peacock said. “You do not ever realize what it is really like.”
Peacock said she would tell teachers patience is a key value to have for a dyslexic.
“You are not always going to have the average student, and they need to keep an eye out and tell parents early on, not later on,” Peacock said.
Dr. Rebecca Smith, an assistant professor curriculum, instruction and leadership, gave a special education perspective and spoke about the laws in Louisiana.
“All students are guaranteed a free appropriate public education by federal law,” Smith said. “The state law appears to be working very well.”
Smith said dedicated, energetic and committed instructors in the classroom, actively teaching to make it work for those students with dyslexia and for all students is the key to good teaching.
“Because it is not just the dyslexic student’s who benefit,” Smith said. “It is what teachers have got to have to make educational progress.”
Other panelists included Young, who was the moderator; Sheila Barber, who gave the teacher perspective; and Dr. Carynn Wiggins, who gave the parent's perspective.