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House Bill 572, which is supported by families affected by dyslexia, has been introduced into the General Assembly by Representative Ted Celeste.
So far HB 572 has garnered the support of more than two dozen co-sponsors.
For the past year, Celeste has been working with the International Dyslexia Association, its local affiliate and the families of Ohio’s dyslexic students.
Celeste says “There are concerns that Ohio is not doing enough to identify, screen and assist those with dyslexia.”
Before introducing the bill, he has taken a look at what other states are doing.
The legislation will formally define dyslexia as “a specific learning disorder that is neurological in origin and that is characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.” It adds that these difficulties traditionally arise from a deficit in the phonological component of language.
Celeste has been meeting with scores of people who have battled dyslexia, and it became apparent that early diagnosis and treatment is the right way to treat the problem. One of those people is entrepreneur Janis Mitchell, who was diagnosed in first grade. She says “So many kids are constantly told that they are lazy or stupid when that is not the case at all.
Celeste agrees, and says that when left unidentified, the disorder can cause children to feel inadequate. That opens the possibility of them slipping through education system cracks.
Mitchell is the former vice-president of the Central Ohio Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (COBIDA). She worked along with Celeste in mapping out HB 572.
Earl Oremus, the headmaster at Marburn Academy, a Columbus-based school that specializes in working with dyslexic students, said he is pleased that HB 572 is rooted in early screening and intervention. “If we do the right thing early, we can prevent failures in reading levels.”
Oremus staunchly supports early identification. He says it can be enormously effective for children who have learning challenges.
“It is extremely damaging to fail in school,” he says. He adds that a child who is convinced that he or she will not be able to read by the fourth grade is primed to conclude he doesn’t want to be in school.
The proposed pilot project would create a partnership between a school district and a regional library or library system in three settings — urban, rural and suburban. It would be mandated to operate for three full school years, would study the effectiveness of early reading assistance programs for children with dyslexia and evaluate whether those programs can reduce special education costs in the future.
Celeste says he knows there is a great deal of interest from both sides of the aisle. This is a sign, he feels, that the bill has a good chance to move forward.
Dyslexia Awareness Rally Oct. 6
The legislation will be highlighted by all three Ohio branches of the International Dyslexia Association at the organizations annual Dyslexia Awareness Rally on October 6th from 10 am to 2 pm, on the south lawn of the Ohio statehouse. The event will include testimony from people with dyslexia, their families; and there will be music and artwork.
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