A Dyslexia Conference will take place on Harding’s campus with the theme Unlocking Dyslexia on Saturday, Oct 18 in the American Heritage Center from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
According to Dixie Evans, one of the founders for the Dyslexia Conference, dyslexia is a disease that affects the brain which makes it hard for a person to decipher sounds and words.
“It is a language processing disorder. It affects the brain’s ability to decipher the written language, basically,” Evan says.
The idea for the conference came after October was declared Dyslexia month in Arkansas by Governor Mike Beebe during the month of September.
“We needed something to show we’re serious about this, something to reach out to parents, to educators, to give them somewhere to learn what dyslexia is, what they need, what the dyslexic children really need,” Evans says.
The conference will consist of guest speakers and resources to address myths and misconceptions about dyslexia and how to help those who have it.
Mary-Margaret Sholtens, one of the guest speakers, will have a demonstration on what it’s like for people with dyslexia.
“I will do an overview on how science based reading intervention actually changes the neural pathways in the brain as shown on fMRIs, Sholtens says, “This is the exciting proof behind these multi-sensory structured learning approaches.”
One of the key things that will be addressed at the conference is to educate teachers on how to help students struggling with dyslexia, a problem that Evans became familiar with when her daughter Natalie became diagnosed.
“My daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in the first grade, the second half of first grade, Evans said, “She was barely reading at a kindergarten level and when she was diagnosed I couldn’t find anybody to work with her, which is why I went and got certified with Barton,” says Evans.
According to Sholtens, the conference will also be a great opportunity to show that people with dyslexia can be successful because of the disease.
“It is so important to teach these kids the way they learn and to let them know the amazing strengths and abilities that arise when neurons migrate to various places in the brain,” Sholtens says, “We’ll show a few of our favorite examples of people with dyslexia who have been very successful, not in spite of their dyslexia but because of it.”
According to Harrison Ganaway, a junior at Catholic High school, dyslexia comes with complications but also some triumphs.
“Some people are not comfortable with spelling, or reading, but they’ll be logical thinkers, think outside the box, or maybe they’re a really good artist,” says Ganaway, “For me, my struggle is with grammar and mathematics, but I’m good at writing.”
According to Shelton, one of the key things she wants people to take away from the conference is hope.
“I want everyone to walk away feeling empowered and ready to make a difference,” Shelton says, “I want to share with them what the exciting progress is being made and make sure they know about some of the incredible pioneers for dyslexia that we have right here in our state.”