Support Group Formed to Help Individuals with Dyslexia

WORCESTER — October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, with activities nationwide offering education and support for those with the disability and those who manage it as well.

Between 10{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} and 15{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of the U.S population has dyslexia, but only five out of every 100 are diagnosed, according to the Dyslexia Research Institute in Tallahassee, Fla. There are still many misconceptions surrounding the learning disorder. According to Sally Shaywitz, professor of Learning Development and co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity in New Haven, Conn., “dyslexia is a problem with how the brain processes speech and matches the words you see on the page with units of sound. As a result, people who are dyslexic struggle with reading, spelling, and learning a second language.” The National Center for Learning Disabilities says dyslexia is a neurological and often genetic condition, and not the result of poor teaching, instruction, or upbringing, and it is not linked to intelligence.

To raise awareness and dispel untruths, here are a few facts and statistics about dyslexia:

• It does not just impact children. More than 40 million American adults are dyslexic, including many famous adults, such as Orlando Bloom, Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg, Keira Knightley, and Patrick Dempsey. So was Albert Einstein.

• Dyslexia is not just about getting letters or numbers mixed up or out of order; it is a language-based learning disability or disorder that includes poor word reading, word decoding, oral reading fluency, and spelling.

• About 80{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of people associate dyslexia with some form of retardation. This is not true. People of all backgrounds and intellectual levels can have dyslexia; it has nothing to do with not working hard enough.

• Dyslexics may struggle with organizational skills, planning and prioritizing, keeping time, or concentrating with background noise. On the other hand, dyslexics may excel at connecting ideas, thinking out of the box, 3D thinking, and seeing the big picture. Many with dyslexia are gifted in areas of art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales, and sports.

Trevor Smith, a local entrepreneur and dyslexic, realized support for adults managing this disability were not as available as youth with the same condition. Together with the Massachusetts branch of the International Dyslexia Assoc. (MABIDA), a support group for adults with dyslexia has been formed. The first meeting will be held today, Oct. 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 1070 Pleasant St., Worcester. The location was strategically located to welcome friends from Western, Central, and Eastern Mass. The goal of the group is to provide resources and support for adults with dyslexia. There is no cost to attend. For more information about MABIDA, visit ma.dyslexiaida.org.

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