Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 9:02 pm | Fair 62º


Dyslexia Awareness Month Spurs Flurry of Activity to Build Knowledge

Santa Barbara Unified School District holding parent education events, hosting Parent Resource Center meetings

Advocate Cheri Rae and education officials were celebrated for their work by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors in recognition of October as Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Dyslexia means “difficulty with words” and is very prevalent; the learning disability affects one in five individuals.

“We’ve all read about the stories and research that if not diagnosed early with the support needed for our children early on, it can lead to long-lasting impacts,” First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said.

Rae, who spearheaded the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Parent Resource Center and runs The Dyslexia Project, was given a special shout-out by county and state representatives.

“I think it’s incredibly important when talking about dyslexia awareness to talk about people who bridged the gap between talk and action,” said Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara.

Rae has distinguished herself as an involved parent and advocate for children with dyslexia in the school system, he said.

Santa Barbara Unified Superintendent Dave Cash said the county’s acknowledgement of the issue was a highlight of his career.

The district has a display up at La Cumbre Plaza, Chaucer’s Bookstore and other locations around town with quotes by famous locals who struggled with dyslexia, such as Santa Barbara High School graduates Charles Schwab and water polo Olympian Kami Craig.

The special education department just created its first-ever newsletter that will be shared with parents, district spokeswoman Barbara Keyani said.

Rae runs weekly discussions at the Parent Resource Center in addition to helping parents and educators find special education information.

“One in five — that’s a lot,” she said. “Kids are needlessly struggling in school, and these are smart kids who just need to be identified and taught the way they can learn.”

The Parent Resource Center will show The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia at an Oct. 23 open house and discussion about assistive technology for students.

Recently, several people have been asking about colleges that specialize in programs for students with dyslexia and other disabilities, she said.

Some schools specialize in dyslexia and there are mainstream universities with robust programs to support those students, such as the University of Arizona, she noted.

“Many students are not identified and may struggle through school and graduate, with less of a grade-point average than they’re capable of, and once they get to college it’s incredibly difficult,” she said.

“We want to identify kids earlier and support them through school so they can move on and do what they need to do.”

Now that people are using the resource center more, the district and Rae plan on more outreach into the community.

“Doing outreach is a lot better than hoping people come in,” Rae said.

Click here to watch a video about the Parent Resource Center.

The district started a series of talks for parents of students with disabilities this year. The next event will be held in the district office board room at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, at 720 Santa Barbara St., and again at 6 p.m. at Dos Pueblos High School, 7266 Alameda Ave. in Goleta.

It’s titled “The Role of the Parent Before, During and After the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Meeting.”

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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