WPCSD Dyslexia Therapist speaks at Rotary

Mary Rumore
Staff Writer

West Point Consolidated School District Dyslexia Therapist Leah Alonso was the speaker during Rotary Club on Thursday in recognition of Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Alonso kicked off the program by having guests try to write three sentences with their non-dominant hand to show what writing and sentence comprehension is like for children with dyslexia.

One out of five children suffer from dyslexia.

The International Dyslexia Foundation defines dyslexia as “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin.”

Characteristics of dyslexia include difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities.

Alonso said those with dyslexia have delayed speaking skills, difficulty with written and spoken language and difficulty with spelling, number facts, decoding, comprehension, math calculation and learning a foreign language.

Alonso said despite common myths, children with dyslexia don’t outgrow the disease, but their brains can be retrained. Dyslexia can also be diagnosed as early as Kindergarten, and dyslexia doesn’t effect children’s intelligence, Alonso said.

Alonso said typical therapy sessions with children with dyslexia in the district last 45-50 minutes, 2-3 times per week.

“The curriculum I use with students is explicit, systematic and multi-sensory,” Alsonso said.

Alonso said explicit means teaching from small increments to larger, and her and her students practice letters, sounds, letter-sounds and blending whole words by practicing in text.

Systematic means teaching most common sounds and most widely used letter sounds and progressing from simple to more complex, according to Alonso.

Alonso said children with dyslexia are usually not confident to read out loud in class, but with constant motivation, they are the hardest working students.

“Dyslexia doesn’t define who they are,” Alonso said.