Teachers, parents learn frustrations of dyslexia through simulation

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Despite millions of people having dyslexia, there is a disconnect in the disorder and the classroom according to a Wichita educator.

Jeanine Phillips learned 27 years ago her young son had dyslexia and that Kansas did not recognize dyslexia in a classroom setting. She then took on the issue as both an educator and parent.

“We talk about dyslexia in the state of Kansas as being a Neiman Marcus situation, where you’ve got to have enough money to get the evaluation and then you’ve got to have enough money to get the treatment for it,” Phillips, executive director for the Fundamental Learning Center, said.

One of the ways Phillips takes the issue on is through simulation, to help parents and educators see what children with dyslexia see in school.

On Tuesday evening, about two dozen people gathered at the Fundamental Learning Center and were subjected to six different stations demonstrating the challenges of dyslexia.

In one station, participants read a short story with distorted symbols and letters and were expected to answer comprehensive questions about the text.

Another station, people traced letters and symbols and tried to write their name using a mirror.

“My pencil isn’t doing what I’m telling it,” one participant complained.

“It’s very important those individuals first understand dyslexia is very real and it makes a huge difference from a child in a classroom and that we need to approach instruction very differently than a lot of us were taught to do in college,” Phillips said.

An estimated one in five children suffer from dyslexia.

Phillips hoped participants walked away with a better sense of understanding for their own children or pupils.

“Understand they give it their all, but their all just doesn’t cut it,” Phillips said.

Parent Jacob Walker attended with his wife to learn more on their nine-year-old son’s challenges in reading and comprehension.

“A lot of times he wants to do YouTube or play games on the tablet and that make sense because it’s easy for him. He doesn’t have to read, he can consume the material and it’s fine. That’s something we get onto him about sometimes. Maybe, we will a little bit less from now on,” Walker said.

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