Donation, Training to Help Students with Dyslexia

Students in Lauderdale County, who share a bond with Mississippi's governor, are receiving some needed assistance.

The Meridian Scottish Rite Bodies donated $1,500 to the Lauderdale County School District Thursday. The money will be used to help students who suffer from dyslexia.

Last year, Gov. Phil Bryant commended the state legislature for passing two bills that addressed the disorder, with which he struggled as a child.

For the past 15 years, the Meridian Scottish Rite has been supporting efforts to help Lauderdale County students who have dyslexia.

"Ten percent to 15% of all our children are dyslexic," says Edward Garrard, who's a member of the Meridian Scottish Rite Bodies. "With that learning disorder they have a hard time making it through school and being able to read."

So far, about 5% of the students in the Lauderdale County School District have been diagnosed with dyslexia. Money donated from the local Scottish Rite Bodies is being used to provide needed tools and training for K-12 teachers within the district.

"Your typical dyslexic student has average to above average intelligence,' says Teri Edwards, who is the District Coordinator for Lauderdale County Schools. "They're very smart children, but for some reason, they have not made the connection and have not learned how to read. It is a very challenging disorder. So, we have to be creative and look for ways. And that's why we're bringing in trainers to help teachers to know what to do."

Following the donation presentation Thursday, more than twenty K-12 teachers from the district took part in a dyslexia training session that was conducted by the incoming Office Director for Dyslexia with the Mississippi Department of Education, Robin Lemonis.

"It's a processing disorder. It's neurologically based. It affects the language, reading and spelling areas," says Lemonis.

Students in the first grade are expected to read anywhere from 30 to 40 words per minute. Experts say therapy for students who suffer from dyslexia definitely helps.

"We have had kids grow 54 words per minutes in their fluency. So, it's huge," says Lemonis.

Some possible indicators of dyslexia include: trouble learning nursery rhymes; regularly mispronouncing words; difficulty learning and remembering the names of letters; failure to understand that words can be broken into sounds; unable to associate names and letters with sounds; unable to sound out simple one syllable words, complains about reading, has a family history of reading difficulties or makes reading errors that show no connection to sounds. For example: saying the word, 'dog', when actually looking at the word 'girl'.

Some possible indicators of dyslexia include: trouble learning nursery rhymes, the inability to sound out simple one syllable words, and the inability to associate the names of letters with sounds. These are just three of almost a dozen possible indicators that are noted by experts.