To be honest with everyone, I am tired of being aware. Of everything, all the time. And yet, this month, I am meant to be aware of dyslexia. Actually, though, I’d love to be unaware of it in particular, just for a bit. For a day, maybe. Maybe tomorrow? It’s already too late for today. By ten o’clock this morning, I had already watched a sixth-grader struggle to read a very short “story” that was written for a first-grader. My student went too fast, failed to read the same name the same way twice, and changed way too many little words into words that were almost the same. Text doesn’t sound right when you do that. That should be obvious, really. But it’s not. Not to my student, anyway.
Champions of awareness everywhere may be glad to know that my student is aware of dyslexia. He’s painfully aware, month after month. It’s the reason that he’s pulled from one of his favorite classes, a “special”, in order to receive one-on-one tutoring. He does not regard this tutoring as “special”. I’ve asked him. I assume that his classmates are also at least somewhat aware of my student’s dyslexia. They are exposed to it. They hear him read; they see him leave the room with me. Two plus two tends to be easy math when you’re in the sixth grade.
My student’s parents are also aware of dyslexia. That fact is painted all over their exhaustion whenever I see them during the school year. Their awareness comes with stapled forms, lengthy meetings, and acronyms galore. Awareness should really be simpler for them, I think. They know their kid, after all. They’ve seen his tears and witnessed his ever deepening shame at not being able to do something so seemingly simple as read a book! In the sixth grade! I mean, come on! So, yep. They’re aware. I wish that they had the luxury of being much less so, even for a day. I will gladly lend them some oblivion, should it come my way.
My student’s school is refreshingly aware of dyslexia. In fact, they are intervening on what is currently considered to be a pretty grand scale. So, my student is…lucky? If he is, I’m not aware of it. He’s the one struggling. His school providing him with meaningful support should be the minimum that he is due. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the administrator who took the initiative to change my student’s life. I just wonder where so many other school administrators are right now? So many legislators? Advocates who maybe aren’t overburdened parents? Why isn’t everyone recognizing dyslexia already? Why aren’t we all seeing it, saying it, and treating it? As a professional working with students who live and learn with dyslexia, I’m pretty adamant that everyone should be doing all three. Because while awareness may change hearts, only action changes lives. And that’s true every month of the year.