A mother's story...
After kindergarten, two years of first grade, and a rocky second grade I learned that my oldest son - like his father - was dyslexic. Ok. I was ready for this. I rolled up my sleeves, bought some flash cards, and prepared to "fix" my quiet son of what I misunderstood as simply reading backwards (or was it in mirror images?). I knew so little and realized his teachers knew less. However, when I began researching, talking to specialists, and meeting for coffee with other parents, what I learned was my own epiphany. His struggle with decoding letters indicated a unique difference in learning... and what an amazing mind it is! Calmed by this knowledge, I have come to understand that my son's dyslexic brain will take him exactly where he wants to go. Even more, I now know how to parent and guide him on his path.
In the winter of 2012 I sat in my living room with two other women and began structuring a parent support and awareness group. Armed with new knowledge and determination, we decided to start the Virginia chapter of Decoding Dyslexia. By early 2013 DDVA had a website, a facebook page, and members across the state ready for action! We began lobbying in the Va General Assembly with teams of both republicans and democrats to introduce bills that would change the face of education in our state. After many conversations, letters, events, and meetings we have successfully passed laws requiring all licensed Virginia teachers to watch the VDOE Dyslexia Awareness Module, the hiring of dyslexia advisors, higher ed to include dyslexia training, and for parent notification when a student is not hitting certain benchmarks.
With the foundation of these new bills I could see what education could look like for my grandkids. In 2022, policy makers in Virginia passed the Virginia Literacy Act and in 2023 parents, educators, and politicians further strengthened this work by adding more grade levels to be protected with VLA requirements. My advocacy is now to see this through with fidelity and to spread the word so that all students in America are supported with this kind of literacy instruction.