This past weekend, I attended the IDA – Florida Branch’s 2019 Conference in Orlando. This was my first IDA – Florida conference and second IDA conference overall. My introduction to the world of IDA came last year when I went to the national conference in Connecticut. It was a wonderful, if overwhelming experience!
Going into this year’s conference, I was unsure what to expect. How great a difference would there be between national and local, would it also be overwhelming? I shouldn’t have been concerned. The atmosphere, learning experience, and people at the Florida conference was equal to, if not greater, than that at last year’s national conference and not overpowering in the least. In many ways, I felt like I made more immediate, meaningful connections this year than I did last year. I had been struggling to make connections at the local level and here, in one day, at one table, were five others who were local to me or held a common interest – incredible!
If you’re starting to put your toe into the world of dyslexia and unsure of what actions to take, I highly recommend attending local IDA events and conferences. You’ll make valuable local connections that can be immediately beneficial to you and your quest. Now on to this year’s take always!
1. 20 Years Behind!
The discrepancy between how reading is currently being taught and what reading science now tells us is 20 years!! In other words, it’s estimated that it will take the public school systems 20 years to catch up to current reading science. This was the first time I had heard a number put on it and it blew my mind, 20 years! The thousands and thousands of students this undeniably affects is astounding. This discrepancy was attributed to teaching schools and colleges not using/staying up to date with the latest research.
2. Frequency, Intensity, Duration
While not a new concept when talking about dyslexia therapy/remediation, it’s important enough that each speaker touched on this at some point in their presentation. In short, they advised that if someone came to you and said therapy/remediation did not work for them or their child to dig in deeper. Find out how frequency of the sessions – 1 time a week (not recommended) is going to have significantly less impact than 2 – 3 sessions per week. How intense or “strong the prescription” was the therapy – did it deep dive into the student’s foundational issues? Lastly, what was the duration of the previous therapy – did they only attend for a few weeks, months? Each of these three components – frequency, intensity, and duration – are intertwined and necessary for successful remediation.
3. Do Better
In order to help all students with language based disabilities we need to do better in multiple ways. For instance, when diagnosing a child we need to look at the whole child and the “impact of the impairment on their academic, occupational, social-emotional, and health” and “label the symptom not the child (Dr. Eric Tridas).” In regards to IEP’s and dyslexia, we need to raise the “IEP criteria for 80% reading success – to successfully read at the independent level requires 95% accuracy or higher. (Emerson Dickman, J.D.) And finally, when it comes to putting the research into practice, we need to engage our students in meaningful processes – don’t practice a skill or create a product for the purpose of sole purpose of getting in practice or producing a product. Make the practice and the process of creating a product by connecting them to an overall theme, use the content to drive the instruction (Charles W. Haynes, Ed.D; and Nancy Hennessy, M.Ed.)
Each of the three takeaways can be expounded on in multiple ways and to great depth. However, I believe “Do Better” encompasses them all – we need to do better educating the educators on reading science; we need to do better for our students with IEP’s and ensuring what is written in their IEP’s is truly beneficial to them; and we need to do better with putting the research into practice. I’m going to take the next days to reflect on ways the I can do better in my own practice. Hopefully, this time next year I can report back and say “Yes, I did better!”