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Indiana Expands Resources For Children With Dyslexia

boy working on reading skills

Grant Hartley works with his mom before school every day to improve his reading skills through a special tutoring program. (Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News) (Jeanie Lindsay)

Legislation taking effect this fall in Indiana will expand resources for students with dyslexia, including requiring dyslexia screenings and access to specialists trained to help students with the language-based learning disability.

The law requires all school corporations and charter schools to have a reading specialist who has trained in a dyslexia program.

Having a teacher trained to help students with dyslexia will help all students who struggle to read, said Republican state Sen. Erin Houchin of Salem, who authored the bill and whose son has dyslexia.

"There's about 20 percent of students that no matter how you teach them to read, they will pick up," Houchin said. "Then there's 20 percent of students with dyslexia who will only pick it up when it's delivered to them in this very specific way: explicit, multisensory, systematic approach. The kids that are in the middle, we know they're struggling readers and will benefit from the approach as well."

Lissa Krull of Milford, who has dyslexia, said she noticed signs of the disability in her daughter, Arrington. Krull said the family hasn't been able to find a tutor for the 14-year-old.

"I've been tracking (the bill) and we're hoping that more will be done, and there will be someone locally that can help her within the school," Krull said.

The bill also requires students in kindergarten through second grade, as well as those with risk factors, to be screened for dyslexia.

Those who struggle to read are more likely to drop out of high school and end up in the criminal justice system, Houchin said.

State Rep. Woody Burton, who sponsored the bill, said he was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 70.

"If you catch it at an early age and help them identify it, then they're going to overcome it a lot easier than if they were 15 years old and discovered the problem," said Burton, who is now 73.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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