7755 Office Plaza Dr. N. Suite 105, West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
(515) 218 - 8445
By Dawn Philbin,
MA/CCC/Speech Language Pathologist
Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read this about my philosophy of the struggling reader, writer and speller, as well as why it is my professional passion to help these students.
I believe that there are many kids in our public schools that have unidentified Dyslexia. If left untreated, many kids with Dyslexia will plateau, never learn to read at a functional level, or at least never reach their maximum potential academically and professionally.
It frustrates me greatly when I get reports from other professionals, (with lots of credentials), where deep testing has been done, yet some of the core areas of language related to Dyslexia have not even been addressed in the evaluation. Parents have invested a significant amount of time, money and frustration to have their child identified as having the vague and not useful diagnosis of “Reading Disorder.” Often the recommendations are just as vague and confusing. Parents knew before they took their child to this professional that their child obviously had some form of reading disorder, or they wouldn’t have taken the child for evaluation in the first place.
I believe to actually identify and NAME the Dyslexia, if this is truly the weakness causing the reading disorder, leads to the correct recommendations and an actual path for the parent to follow to get their child the correct kind of help they need. Recommendations that actually work! Recommendations should be specific and written in a way, that a parent knows how to proceed after the evaluation. They should have a map of a plan to close the gap with specific things the parent and child are advised to do. It is kind of like this analogy. You go to the doctor because you hurt your foot, but the doctor says wear this brace and take this medicine without looking at why the foot hurts. He is just randomly trying treatments. Doctors do not usually do this. They x-ray, or do tests, until they do their best to get to the CAUSE of the problem. Just like doctors, if we know and UNDERSTAND the cause of the Reading Disorder, then we know how to remediate it.
Dyslexia is a leading cause for reading and writing struggles. Dyslexia affects 5 to 20% of our population in varying degrees of severity, and if identified, named, and treated with research based methodologies for Dyslexia, reading issues can significantly improve! Dyslexia is defined by The International Dyslexia Association as a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and /or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities, (morphology of language). These difficulties typically result from a deficit in phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge, (semantic language.)
As a speech language pathologist, I can go into a pre-school classroom and have a good idea of who is “at risk” of being that child who struggles later in reading, writing and spelling. Again, by mid-Kindergarten, I can walk into a class, observe, consult with the teachers, and have a good idea of who will be our students that struggle with Dyslexia and learning to read, write and spell at a pace that is quite different from this student’s same age and typical peers. By the end of First Grade, there is generally a bit of concern and a gap is beginning to reveal itself. There is even more concern by the end of Second and Third Grade, and an even bigger gap between this student’s skills and his peers. By Fourth Grade, all of the sudden, many people are in an uproar, and it is quite possible by this time that the student is actually two or more full years behind in reading, writing, spelling and sometimes even math, and MAY finally qualify for Special Education services. By this time, the curriculum is really moving fast for kids. My goal is simply to identify these kids as early as possible, then make recommendations that might alleviate the child from ever forming that gap.
It is frustrating to me when I see high school kids that read and write at a Fourth Grade level or lower. It is quite possible that many of these kids might have dyslexia. Had they been identified early, and remediated with research based methodology, maybe school and life would have been easier for them. Many of these kids find success regardless, however, there are those that do not. It is estimated that at least 50% of our prison population has dyslexia. When not identified early, and remediated, dyslexia might be at a root cause of some societal issues. It is simply hard to make it in this tough old world without being a successful reader and writer. Not impossible….but certainly not easy! When I see elementary students struggling in core areas of language related to reading and writing, I know these kids are at risk of being that high school student who reads at or lower than a Fourth Grade level. It concerns me!
I have been told that I am over passionate about helping these kids. I am not always popular in the educational community. I just cannot help myself! I am dyslexic myself. It runs in my family. I just see absolutely no reason that any child should suffer longer than necessary. I believe early identification and remediation of dyslexia can change lives! This is my passion! Thank you so much for reading this!
Dawn Werts Philbin
MA/CCC/Speech Language Pathologist
7755 Office Plaza Drive N. Suite 105
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266