So did Nelson Rockefeller, and so do Bill Gates, Anderson Cooper, Ameer Baraka, Steven Spielberg and many more leaders, scholars, authors, actors, scientists, lawyers and financiers. Each of these famous, highly successful people has dyslexia, a condition in the brain that makes it difficult for some children and adults to the problem of educating children fluently. But thousands more children with dyslexia — and one in five children have it — will go undiagnosed. It will also require the state Education Department to develop a guidance memorandum for use by public schools in implementing these protections.
It is hoped that the new law will also spur education schools to better prepare aspiring teachers, and inform professional development programs for current teachers so they can better recognize the signs of dyslexia and related disorders and give children the help they need as soon as possible. For dyslexics, the return to school is anxiety-producing. They struggle to read despite average to above average, or even superior, intelligence. And learning disabilities are equal opportunity abusers, affecting children regardless of race, gender or socio-economic status. Congress began addressing this problem in 1975 with what became known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, entitling children with disabilities to a free appropriate public education. The linchpin is the IEP, where schools must describe a child’s disabling condition and develop an educational plan for the year, including any specialized services, therapies or interventions. Because these difficulties are unexpected and often unrecognized, parents and educators may believe that with hard work, these children will simply outgrow it.