BATON ROUGE, LA (BRPROUD) – October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, and as we close out the month one woman is pushing for more awareness and better resources for families.
Dyslexia, it’s a disorder that involves difficulty learning, reading or interrupting words but does not affect intelligence.
It’s fairly common in young children but often goes undetected, and that was the case for Dr. Laura Cassidy.
“Baffling, which I think it is for a lot of parents. You’re like my child is smart and all your friends are like ‘oh they’re going to learn to read don’t worry about it’. Teachers are like ‘oh they will learn’, and you’re just like something is not right,” Cassidy said.
In 2006 her youngest daughter, Kate was diagnosed with Dyslexia.
“It wasn’t until first grade that we finally figured it out. But, unfortunately, we were told ‘oh you can’t have dyslexia until the third grade’. You can’t be diagnosed until you’re in the third grade. And unfortunately some people still say that. What we’d rather do is in kindergarten identify you as dyslexic so in first grade you’re in the right program, but that wasn’t how it was for us,” Cassidy said.
After seeing Kate struggle, Cassidy decided to take matters into her own hands and founded the Louisiana Key Academy, a charter school for children with Dyslexia.
“I think the schools, traditionally, don’t know what to do with these kids. So it just makes more sense if you have a school dedicated to Dyslexia because then you can train your teachers. We train our teachers for two years, curriculum specific. It becomes an economically possible situation to give these kids of any finical background a great education,” said Cassidy.
She along with her husband Senator Bill Cassidy are working to bring awareness to the disorder.
“In the beginning when he was in the senate and he spoke people were like wait, we’ve never heard of Dyslexia. Every year he has introduced bipartisan resolutions about Dyslexia,” Cassidy said.
He even helped get legislation passed to have inmates screened to ease their re-entry into society.
“We know a lot of these kids are never identified in school. They end up frustrated, on the streets and incarcerated. So, the thought was let’s not have the same thing happen again,” said Cassidy.
Now, Cassidy continues to work to change the stigma around the disorder.
“A lot of people are ashamed they have dyslexia. I think we’ve made progress, but because so many people think oh you must not be smart, or maybe you’re lazy, so part of dyslexia awareness month is this push to get people to understand what it is, try to push so children get what they need and are identified and that they’re not ashamed,” Cassidy said.
If you would like to learn more about the Louisiana Key Academy click here.