MONTGOMERY, AL-- According to Dyslexia International, one in 10 people are dyslexic. Significant numbers of dyslexic people go undiagnosed -- leading to life-long problems.
Thursday, the Alabama School Board approved amendments to the state administrative code, now defining dyslexia as a "learning challenge." This will ensure students in the state get the help they need, beginning with early intervention.
The goal of the new amendments is to get dyslexic children the help inside the classroom before their dyslexia becomes a learning disability.
Denise Gibbs has been on a mission for the past 15 years to get the Alabama school code amended to define and recognize dyslexia as a learning challenge. She says early intervention is the key to overcoming.
"And they'll never really realize... that there's was anything wrong with them because the help came at a time when it was just a challenge, not when they've struggled for years and what they had emerged as a learning disability," said Denise Gibbs, Director of the Alabama Scottish Rite Foundation.
Gibbs says without dyslexia-specific learning, dyslexic children are often left to struggle silently.
"They get to school and they encounter a brick wall when it comes to learning to read unless they're taught the way their brain works," said Gibbs.
Schools statewide will now have dyslexia screenings followed by intervention including assistive technology.
"Computers they can talk into rather than have to write and that will read things to them," said Gibbs.
The code will also ensure accommodations are made so students aren't penalized for their learning challenge, for instance they may only have to learn a portion of the spelling words or may have a copy of what's written on the board at their desk so they won't have to struggle to copy it from the board correctly.