Missouri Dyslexia Bill Motivated by Locals, Passes House

By Matt Lupoli | mlupoli@kolr10.com

Published 04/20 2014 07:57PM

Updated 04/20 2014 10:31PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Rep. Eric Burlison said his House-approved bill aimed at helping Missouri children with dyslexia, was inspired by an Ozarks family.

Before she knew more about it, Jennifer Edwards said dyslexia, a reading disorder that makes deciphering letters and symbols difficult for as much as 17 percent of the population, caused confusion for her and her daughter.

"She would have stomach aches," Edwards said. "Every Sunday night, she would bring me the thermometer and ask me to take her temperature because she knew she had school the next day."

Edwards said she was surprised by the lack of resources available to dyslexic students, so she contacted her congressman.

"When I heard their story, it was really remarkable," Rep. Eric Burlison said. "Someone who has dyslexia, really in my mind, it's no different than someone who is left handed versus right handed."

Burlison sponsored HB 1614, which raises the status of dyslexia and gives parents and schools access to a program set up last year by Bryce's Law, which is meant to help families of children with autism and other disorders.

"It will encourage the department of elementary and secondary education to seek federal grants, and it doesn't cost the state anything," Burlison said.

Burlison hopes schools will adopt strategies, known as the Orton Gillingham method, that have already been implemented in Nixa Schools.

"Once identified, we need to train teachers in how to work with kids with dyslexia," Certified Academic Language Specialist Noel Leif said.

Leif teaches children with Dyslexia, including Edwards' daughter for more than two years. 

"It's nothing to be ashamed or fearful of, it's just a unique way of learning," Leif said.
Now, with the proper learning tools, the confusion is gone and so are the regular stomach aches at the Edwards home -- which is something she hopes for all families dealing with dyslexia. 

"It takes a lot of persistence and a lot of encouragement, but she's sticking with it," Edwards said about her daughter.

For more information and resources, visit decodingdyslexia-mo.org

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