Chance are if you just simply look at four other friends, associates or relatives, you can’t see the problems or difficulties one of those in the group faces each and every day.
One in five Americans has a learning disability or disorder, says the U.S. Department of Education in its Twenty-Ninth Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, learning disabilities are “hidden disabilities” where the person looks perfectly “normal”, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age. A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge.
Dyslexia is one of these hidden disabilities. The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia “as a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and /or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.” More simply put, dyslexia is a brain difference that makes it difficult to learn to read, write and spell.
Hanna Osborne, a Muscatine 8th-grader and her dad Jeff, face these challenges daily.
“Dyslexia is more than just scrambled numbers and letter,” said Jeff Osborne. “It’s more about short-term, and long-term memory. We make associations with things others don’t.”
Dyslexia falls under the “Specific Learning Disorder” umbrella term for mathematics, reading, and written expression disorders found in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. DSM-5 is the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Recently, Hanna was among several dozen Iowans who gathered with Governor Kim Reynolds as she signed the Dyslexia Task Force into law. The task force, administered by the Iowa Department of Education, will bring parents, teachers and stakeholders together to make recommendations to help Iowa students.
The new Iowa Dyslexia Task Force will work in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which covers 13 categories of disability under Federal law to provide support for these varied, hidden disabilities.