Local families dealing with dyslexia calling for more support
Families dealing with dyslexia in Waterloo Region are calling on the province and local school boards to offer more support.
Decoding Dyslexia, a provincial advocacy group, calls dyslexia the most common learning disability that impacts up to 17 per cent of kids in Ontario or at least two children in every classroom.
In 2019 the Ontario Human Rights Commission launched Right to Read, a public inquiry into the reading levels in Ontario.
Breslau resident Michelle Barnard spoke at the inquiry last year. She was diagnosed with dyslexia in college and has two sons who are also living with the disability.
"It’s been a long fight and I can see light at the end of the tunnel," said Michelle.
Barnard's son John said he was bullied for being dyslexic throughout elementary school.
"It would hurt you so much, like you didn't want to go to school," Barnard told CTV News. "People said 'oh you can't read, you're dumb, you're stupid'."
Despite entering high school at a grade 4 reading level, Barnard graduated with a 90 per cent average. Michelle said educational therapy outside of class seriously improved his development, but it came at a cost of $32,000. Something many families can't afford.
"I had to wait two years on a waiting list," said Carol Stanners, a Kitchener mother who's 11-year-old child battles dyslexia.
Stanners said she can’t afford dyslexic therapy and families can spend upwards of $3,000 to have a child assessed.
A spokesperson for the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) said a report from the Right to Read inquiry is in the works and will be released in early 2022.
"The report will provide recommendations to meet the needs of students with reading disabilities in areas such as curriculum and instruction, early screening, reading interventions, accommodations and professional assessments," OHRC media relations officer Adewonuola Johnson said in a statement.
The Waterloo Region District School Board said it has begun to shift its teaching practices in early literacy in response to the Right to Read inquiry.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board said it has several supports currently in place and recently completed a three-year pilot program with a focus on supporting students with learning disabilities in developing their literacy skills.