The Gift of Dyslexia

Amy Campbell, who serves as the school counselor at the Rawson Saunders School for Dyslexia, provides a powerful post about children with dyslexia. I am grateful to Amy for contributing this valuable message. Rawson Saunders School for Dyslexia provides a unique and powerful education for children with special needs.  

Student Empowerment and Dyslexia

Amy_Campbell

Being the counselor at Rawson Saunders, the only full-curriculum school in Central Texas for dyslexic students, has gifted me the opportunity to get up close and personal with dyslexia. It’s impossible to put into words all of the many different dimensions, challenges, and gifts our dyslexic students display and experience, but these student quotes reflect some important ideas and represent perspectives that have been expressed by a large majority of our students. The students at Rawson Saunders have taught me some important things about dyslexia and empowerment.

“Dyslexia means you’re gifted.” Audrey, 6th grader at Rawson Saunders

“I’m passionate about being dyslexic.” Jack, 9th grader at Rawson Saunders

“Dyslexia isn’t a disability; it’s an ability.” Beau, 7th grader at Rawson Saunders

Rawson Saunders makes it a key objective to foster and highlight strengths that are typically associated with dyslexia. Dyslexic learners are deeply intuitive, visual-spatial thinkers and often possess significant strengths in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), as well as the Arts. Being surrounded by dyslexic children daily has provided me many experiences to observe their unique strengths, talents, and unique views about the world around them. It is not surprising to me at all that some of the most creative and innovative minds, such as Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Erin Brockovich, and Steve Jobs were and are dyslexic.

“The turning point for me was when a teacher stood up for me and explained that I just      learned differently.” Eve, 7th grader at Rawson Saunders

Education and understanding about dyslexia is critical for teachers and students. With the right instruction, almost all dyslexic individuals can learn to read. When students first transition in to our school, they frequently express that, when it comes to learning, they feel misunderstood, frustrated, and defeated; however, they begin to thrive in an environment tailored to the way they learn best. Through individualized, multisensory, research-driven instruction, our students begin to understand their strengths and how their brains work and learn differently. Then, their dyslexia becomes a source of pride.

It is crucial that teachers understand dyslexic students. Shortly after I began working at RS, I learned that the large majority of college and university teacher preparation programs provide little to no training on how to recognize or teach dyslexic children. The International Dyslexia Association has developed teacher preparation standards for universities, but there are currently only 20 universities in the United States that meet these standards. The Rawson Saunders Institute is one of only a handful of training institutes in the United States that provides instruction on the specific research-based, multisensory approach to learning that is effective for ALL students, and especially those with dyslexia. Dyslexic students should be provided an education that meets their needs and fosters true understanding. It is up to all stakeholders to advocate for this.

Amy Campbell

B.S. Elementary Education and Special Education (Salem International University)

M.A. Counseling and School Counseling (West Virginia University)

Ph.D. Counseling and Clinical Supervision (University of Virginia)