Nobody likes to feel alone. The need for community is part of basic human nature, so it can be especially isolating when a natural characteristic makes someone different from the rest of the crowd. Such is the case for children and adults with dyslexia, who live in a world that expects everyone to read and write. In the past, it was not always easy for dyslexics (along with their families and teachers) to find community, but in an age of increased awareness and improved communication, there are now multiple ways to find others who are affected by dyslexia.
With the recent publication of books like "Thinking Differently"]1 by David Flink, "The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan" by Ben Foss, and "The Dyslexic Advantage" by Brock and Fernette Eide, dyslexia awareness and education are at an all-time high. In addition, documentary films such as The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, Dislecksia: The Movie, and Embracing Dyslexia have put a human face on the [learning disability that affects an estimated one in five people.
Students, parents, and educators who have dyslexia in their lives need a support system to flourish. As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers, and today’s Internet tools, local support groups, and national events are bringing like-minded people together to provide valuable resources and eliminate feelings of isolation.
With the advent of the Internet, there is now an abundance of accessible information at our fingertips. Websites like Understood, Dyslexic Advantage, Learning Ally, and Headstrong Nation are filled with articles, blog posts, webinars, and informational videos. They also offer memberships that provide online communities. In addition, the forthcoming Dyslexiaville will be a fun-filled site aimed at cultivating positive self-awareness in younger children. Finally, the value of using social media to connect with others who are touched by dyslexia cannot be overstated. Conversations on Facebook and Twitter chats like #LDchat, #ATchat, and #UDLchat have allowed people to connect in ways that did not exist in the past.
While the Internet has allowed people to connect across greater distances, there is also tremendous value in communicating in person. During the last three years, Decoding Dyslexia has done a fantastic job bringing parents together through its local state chapters. The mentoring organization Eye to Eye has allowed college, high school, and elementary students with learning disabilities to form small communities that celebrate members' differences. Lastly, the International Dyslexia Association (“IDA") has many smaller branches around the country that sponsor local meetings and events for families and educators.
A great way to meet many other students, parents, and educators who have dyslexia in their lives is to attend an annual national event. The IDA has held its annual Reading, Literacy, and Learning Conference for 65 years, and it has recently expanded its reach by including the annual Conference for Families. Another annual event for parents, teachers, and students is the EdRev (Education Revolution) Conference, held each spring at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Organized by Parents Education Network (“PEN"), EdRev is making great strides in raising awareness, education, and self-esteem in the dyslexia community.
The days when people affected by dyslexia could easily feel alone are in the past. Today, people who have language difficulties, the parents who love them, and the teachers who want to guide them to success have many opportunities to find others who are like them. They can share information, resources, and experiences. Together, they are strong.