I have often wanted to write a blog...but, I couldn't narrow down what I wanted to focus on! I've decided that this blog will be a cornucopia of information; some of it will be educational, some will be inspirational. At times, I may be reflective or share things my students say.
I am a speech-language pathologist and certified academic language therapist. I am the director and co-founder of an amazing place called the ReadWrite Center. At ReadWrite, we are able to serve children who are struggling to learn to read and write. Most of our students have been identified as having dyslexia.
Years ago, that term frightened me. Even though I was a language specialist, I knew little about teaching a child to read. Then, one day, it happened. A parent brought me a young child to screen. He had been exposed to books and read to since birth. He'd had excellent preschool and kindergarten experiences. He was now well into the first grade and he couldn't read. Not only could he not read, he was struggling to learn his letters and the sounds they make. His mom asked me what was wrong and what to do for him. I had to admit that I didn't know.
I began a journey that day that ultimately changed the trajectory of my life. I started exploring what could be keeping this bright, funny boy from learning and stumbled upon the term dyslexia. His mom found an Alphabetic Phonics training program and asked me if I would be willing to go through it so I could help her son. I, fortunately, said yes to her.
I say fortunately because I love the new direction my life was sent in after taking only the first few days of training. I realized that there were other students in the private school I taught for who were struggling with similar issues. I asked the board to allow me to begin some small classes using Alphabetic Phonics and they agreed to let me do so. That was seventeen years ago!
During those seventeen years, I have had the privilege to work with many parents, students, and teachers. Initially, I ran a dyslexia program in a private school. But, after twelve years, I realized that God was calling me to serve the community and the ReadWrite Center was born.
At the ReadWrite Center, I am blessed to work with thirteen other talented women all of whom have dedicated their lives to helping children learn to read and write. We are a mix of fully-certified therapists and therapy trainees; we walk and work alongside each other growing daily as individuals and as a staff. We laugh, we work, we cry over these kids. We celebrate their successes; we mourn their struggles. Mostly, though, we stand tall for these kids teaching them to read and write the way they were designed to learn. We educate them that this is simply a difference in brain wiring and that difference means they need to be taught a different way. We teach these kids that the reason they haven't learned to read yet is because they haven't been taught the way they learn. The weight is ours to carry rather than theirs. We assure them that if they stick with it, they will soon discover that they, indeed, can learn to read and write when the information is taught to them explicitly, sequentially, and in a cumulative and multisensory manner. It doesn't take long for our students to start experiencing small successes and the trajectory of their lives are changed.
There are many myths and misconceptions about dyslexia. Some people doubt it even exists. But, dyslexia is real, and is much more common than most people think. Our teachers need to be given training that helps them recognize the signs early in a child's education so that the right type of intervention can be put in place.
I recently gave a professional development training about dyslexia to a group of area teachers. Near the end of the day, during a question and answer session, many spoke of finally understanding what they had been seeing in several of their students. They were clamoring for tools to help these kids. Tears flowed from the eyes of dedicated, caring teachers who want nothing more than to have all of the knowledge and all of the tools they need to meet the needs of each child in their classes.
We know how to teach students with dyslexia. My prayer, as we move closer to legislating services for students with dyslexia, is that we are able to get the right kind of information and training out to the schools to help them help kids.
I received a postcard yesterday from a former student, Chandler. He was one of the students in my first Alphabetic Phonics class. He has since graduated from high school and is in Colorado studying. His message included the following statement, "We just finished reading Plato's Republic. We read it as a group and I kept thinking, "Wow, thank you, God, for Ms. Wendy teaching me to read!"" My prayer is that every child who is struggling to learn to read and write will have the opportunity to say the same someday to some teacher.
Wendy Stacy is an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist, ALTA-certified academic language therapist and qualified instructor, IDA-certified dyslexia therapist, and holds additional licensure as a dyslexia therapist in the state of Texas. She is the director and cofounder at ReadWrite Center in Oklahoma City, providing assessment and intervention services for students with dyslexia. She serves as a dyslexia consultant for several area education task forces working with schools to improve services offered to students with dyslexia and providing professional development training to teachers. Wendy is a regular presenter at state, regional, and national conferences and is the author of Barebones Grammar for Reading and Writing, Six Syllables to Success, Benchmark Measures to Accompany the Take Flight Curriculum, and the Tier Tools O-G-based Reading, Writing, Spelling, and Language Games Sets 1 & 2.