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develop those gifts, the better it’s going to be,” Brenda professes, pointing out that remediation is critical but that developing the young one’s strengths and talents is equally as vital. “In general, dyslexic kids are phenomenal about seeing the big picture. They usually excel in math and are great engineers, mathematicians, artists, dancers, athletes, and architects. I can’t tell you how many physicians tell me they’re dyslexic.”

What are remediation and accommodation? Once parents have accomplished all of the above, it’s time to remediate and accommodate. “It’s never too late to remediate,” Brenda emphasizes. “It’s hard to remediate later, but never too late.”

If they don’t, Brenda warns that by third grade, children may really suffer. “That’s because they can no longer keep up with the pace. They understand those heavy literary concepts, but they just can’t fully grasp the words to read and spell them, and that interferes with comprehension,” she says, further describing the effects, “So, they will miss and guess and add words, and their spelling will be poor. Their reading fluency and reading speed might also not be there.” Another warning sign Brenda points out: “Parents will especially notice poor comprehension when their child reads something, but when something is read to them, their comprehension will be excellent.” While all of these symptoms may sound overwhelming, there is hope.

What to do if dyslexia is suspected? According to Brenda, the very first thing to do is educate yourself. “Part of educating yourself would be going to the Understanding Dyslexia class, put on by the Georgia Educational Training Agency, and picking up Dr. Sally Shaywitz’s book Overcoming Dyslexia. Those are two of the more solid resources.” The second thing to do is get a psychological evaluation. “Not all psychologists know it well, and in public schools, it isn’t tested as thoroughly, so that needs to be a private evaluation,” Brenda asserts, clarifying that a private assessment will deeply probe to determine if a child has expressive, receptive language or if he or she has dyslexia. Third, find a tutor. “You can go to any school where the teachers understand dyslexia and the teachers are trained,” she explains, admitting her favorite curriculums are The Complete Reading Series, which she personally wrote, and other structured reading programs that focus on all five areas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Parents can also search for tutors on the International Dyslexia Association and Wilson Language Training websites. “The fourth and final thing is really recognize the gift of your child because God has blessed this child with gifts. The more you can

To help us understand remediation, she offers an analogy: “Remediation is literally the antibiotic used. For example, if your child has strep throat, and you take them to the doctor, the physician is not going to give that child an aspirin. They’re going to give them the right remediate, the right antibiotic… specifically for strep throat. Not only will they give them the right antibiotic, they’re going to give it to them for the right period of time.” Brenda continues, “So, when we talk about remediation, we really are talking about the correct instructional practices, the correct curriculum, which includes the right amount of workbooks and the timeframe in which we administer that. It also includes the training of the teacher, so be sure to consider what kind of training the teacher or homeschool parent had.” Next, she describes accommodation as the alternative support granted to the individual, “like more time to finish the test, more time to do the homework assignment.” She emphasizes, “It’s very important that both remediation and accommodations are addressed.”

A dedicated advocate at your service Having trained more than 10,000 teachers over the last 30 years, Brenda Fitzgerald is a dedicated advocate for those with dyslexia and their families. She wrote The Complete Reading Series for parents and teachers wanting to help but not knowing how to do it. She has even been asked to speak and testify before the Senate Committee and is on the Dyslexia Task Force. It’s not something she planned, but she’s dedicated her life to it and gives God all the glory. “He’s opened every door,” she testifies, sharing, “We’re having a conversation with universities and maybe even changing what they’re teaching young teachers coming out of education programs about how to handle dyslexia and how to better prepare schools and teachers. You know, that’s the power of God. Only He could do that.” Very true indeed. Thanks to the giftings He has given people like Brenda Fitzgerald and the doors He continues to open, children do not have to be defined and defeated by dyslexia but can learn to triumph over it.

july/august 2019

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