If dyslexia goes unrecognized, it can hamper a child’s education throughout that youngster’s schooling. That’s why State Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, authored a bill during the last session that defines dyslexia as a neurological disorder and calls for teacher training to recognize the signs of dyslexia in students.

To better understand how a dyslexic child thinks every single day in the classroom, a group of teachers went through a dyslexia simulation this month.

During the simulation, Northeast Elementary and Greenwood Middle School teachers were given pages of a book with symbols in place of letters to show how much more effort is needed to read with dyslexia. The teachers were asked to read the book aloud, even though the words on the page looked like a jumble of made-up words and symbols they had never seen before.

Tracy Powell, a volunteer for the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana, told the teachers to “Just keep trying!” “Concentrate harder!” and “Say the words!” to show how encouragement can make dyslexic students upset or frustrated.

Once they got through the 10-page book, Powell asked the class questions about the story they had just read. Because of the extra concentration needed to decode what the symbols represented in the text, they couldn’t remember what had happened in the story.

When a student has dyslexia, it is considered a specific learning disability, Powell said. Dyslexic students often mix up letters, have difficulty writing sentences and read at a slow pace.

Powell has been traveling throughout central Indiana to speak with teachers and parents about what help can be given to students with dyslexia. Her simulation gives a glimpse of what a dyslexic student goes through on a daily basis. Students can get easily frustrated, have to concentrate harder than others and need more time to understand or comprehend an assignment.

Kim Neely, a parent and Greenwood Community High School instructional assistant, asked Powell to speak to Greenwood teachers so that they can understand how her dyslexic son feels in a classroom.

The exercises that the Greenwood teachers went through provided a valuable and eye-opening experience. It will help them to better identify students’ problems, which could lead to earlier intervention. In turn, that would make educational success more likely for those students.

We commend Greenwood for offering this experience and encourage other school districts to take their own steps to help teachers so they can better help their dyslexic students.

Northeast Elementary Title 1 teacher Ann Price, said of the lesson: “We loved it. Now we want the next step. We want to know how we can accommodate those students.”

We couldn’t have said it better.

At issue

When not identified, dyslexia can hamper a student throughout an entire educational career.

Our point

Exercises such as one recently offered in Greenwood help teachers better identify and help dyslexic students.