WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – October is Dyslexia Awareness Month.
According to the International Dyslexia Association up to 20 percent of the country’s population is affected by the learning disability.
True Potential Education in West Des Moines helps people of all ages who have dyslexia.
Those affected process language a different way and have a hard time learning how to read, write, and spell.
Co-Owner of True Potential Education Nina Lorimor-Easley said, “It’s a little different than the majority of the population. Processing language more in the right hemisphere than the left hemisphere where a typical processor would encode and decode language.”
Earlham Resident Rachelle Keller has two sons with dyslexia.
She noticed her youngest, Keeton, was struggling and didn’t start using words until the age of two.
“He had a delay in language, he couldn’t recall letters, he couldn’t recall numbers, he couldn’t read, he was very far behind from his peers in the language,” Keller said.
At five-and-a-half years old Keeton was diagnosed with dyslexia.
Lorimor-Easley said the younger someone is diagnosed, the better.
“Time is important. Brain plasticity is at its highest prior to age 12. We want to get it diagnosed so we can intervene appropriately,” Lorimor-Easley said.
True Potential Education uses a multi-sensory approach called Orton-Gillingham to educate students.
“We know that the more multi-sensory our approach is, in other words, the more input that the brain is getting the more it is going to try and expedite the process, which encourages the brain to engage in the left hemisphere,” Lorimor-Easley said.
In the classroom, students with dyslexia can see accommodations like using audiobooks instead of reading and creating videos instead of writing papers.
Lorimor-Easley said some signs a person may have the learning disability include constantly saying words incorrectly, dropping sounds, and reversing syllables.
“It starts with the sounds. We need to be able to look at a word and be able to find all the sounds that are in that word," Lorimor-Easley said.
Keeton attends True Potential Education five days a week to improve his education.
“It’s been a life-changer really because they have given them the tools that they need for success, and they have given the educators what they need to help them succeed also,” Keller said.
In 2018, a dyslexia task force was established by the Iowa Legislature to look at the reality of the learning disability in the state. The task force has until November 24th to present their findings and recommendations to legislators.