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DDPA Initiatives Update
Throughout 2019-2020, DDPA has been laying the foundation for many key advocacy and educational campaigns. Two such campaigns were developed by our amazing Action Coordinators from the Education Committee. One focus DDPA has dedicated time and resources to is informing Early Childhood Educators about dyslexia, the importance of early screening, and really laying the groundwork to build a reciprocal relationship with ECE's in PA.

The key driving force behind this initiative is the recognition that the wait-and-see approach simply does not work. Many schools, educators, and even doctors are telling parents that a child  cannot be diagnosed with dyslexia until the 3rd grade. This is unequivocally false. Dyslexia is diagnosable with a 92% accuracy at ages 5 and 6. We believe that a well-trained early childhood education system could begin to identify those children who already show many of the classic warning signs,  laying the foundation of support and education for parents as they prepare to enter the next phase of their child's academic career. Equipped with knowledge about dyslexia and their child's struggles, these well-informed parents will be able to approach their school systems with necessary data and anecdotal evidence and so begin the next best course of action for that child,  be it a quicker referral into a MTSS intervention, or further psycho-educational evaluation. Additionally, we know from researchers like Jack Fletcher, that reading intervention takes 4 times as long in 4th grade as it would in kindergarten. Dyslexia is a neurobiological condition and the brain is most malleable in early childhood. The brain's plasticity, or ability to easy build new connections, declines as kids grow. Consequently, the amount of content student's need to acquire grows each academic year and makes it very daunting for a student who is still struggling to learn to read to catch up. 

Our first action step was to develop a "Dear Colleague" letter specifically for Early Childhood Educators. You can read, print or download the letter here. It is our hope that you will share this letter and its resources with your local Early Childhood Centers, your friends or colleagues who work in ECC's.  Please share this letter far and wide on your various social media sites. DDPA needs ambassadors, like you, to help us further our mission here in PA. 
We believe that literacy is a civil right, a gateway to equity. Our mission, as a grassroots parent movement, is to support and empower families, to educate and advocate on behalf of the dyslexic community, to bring about legislative change that ensures dyslexic students are identified, provided remediation, and supported in school in #everyclassroomeveryday. As we do this, Decoding Dyslexia PA recognizes it is important to disrupt practices that perpetuate biases, racism, and discrimination and to build a community where everyone is respected, included, and safe. We stand firmly against inequities, violence, and racism.

Decoding Dyslexia PA leadership is already hard at work planning events for this fall in honor of Dyslexia Awareness Month. Anticipating that Pennsylvania will still be under different levels of restrictions, all of our activities will be provided virtually. We will be continuing our Library Awareness Campaign. This is the second year that we will be asking our community libraries to predominantly display educational information on dyslexia,  present book suggestions to those interested in learning more about dyslexia, and provide a variety of age appropriate reading materials suggestions for dyslexic and other struggling readers. The Library Awareness Campaign materials will be updated on our website and available in August for you to download and share with your local library. As a grassroots organization, we rely on your support to make these movements successful. Together we can make a difference.

A new campaign we are working on is the Dyslexia Friendly Library Challenge for all Pennsylvania libraries. In October 2019, our sister organization, Decoding Dyslexia Virginia  challenged librarians to increase their knowledge of dyslexia and help raise awareness. Over half of the library branches across Virginia committed to learn more about dyslexia to better assist people navigate important resources, tap into Decoding Dyslexia, and shift cultural thinking about what it means to be dyslexic, We look to replicate this success here in Pennsylvania.   

Decoding Dyslexia PA will be offering webinars, live and on-demand from our parent advocacy series. Additional plans for the month are still being discussed. Do you have an idea you would like to share with us for Dyslexia Awareness month? Email it to with the Subject: Dyslexia Awareness Month. We would LOVE to hear your ideas. 
On Demand Webinar: Casualties of War: Reading Science Denial and Racism’s Impact on African American Children
On June 10-12, 2020, PA  Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) held its 2020 Literacy Symposium. Highlights of the 3-day training event include sessions by APM Report's Emily Hanford, Louisa Moats, Jack Fletcher, and Steve Dykstra. This event was held virtually via YouTube and Zoom. Keynote sessions are already available on Pattan's Youtube page. The remaining sessions will be available for on-demand viewing in the future. This is a must-watch event. A huge thank you to Dr. Pam Kastner and her team, as well as to all the presenters who made this incredible learning opportunity available to us.
Check out LeDerick's story with dyslexia. LeDerick is a professional speaker, spoken-word poet, and tireless advocate for people with disabilities. 
O.M.G! This is the MOST important thing you will read this summer! We saved the BEST for last because if we had put this first, you would not have finished reading our wonderful newsletter. We swear!

Dr. Louis Moats has updated her 1999 policy paper, Teaching Reading is Rocket Science, and we have linked that here for your reading pleasure. (And it is a pleasure!) I literally just finished reading this myself and am re-energized and re-affirmed in our goals to influence institutions of higher education to align teacher preparation programs with the effective methods backed by DECADES, yes, I said decades, of research. After you read this publication, you may want to get out of your seat and do something about it too! We say, "Go for it!". If you aren't sure where to start, visit the Join Us tab on our webpage and let us know that you are interested in becoming an ambassador or member of Decoding Dyslexia PA. We need people like you, frustrated by the decades of  system failure, angry about your child's continued struggles despite already knowing what the school SHOULD be doing, and ready to turn those emotions into well-thought out plans and action. If not you, then who? 
Copyright © *|2020|* *|Decoding Dyslexia PA|*, All rights reserved.

Decoding Dyslexia Pennsylvania Disclaimer:

Ideas and articles appearing in our newsletter are the opinions of DDPA leaders and not legal or professional advice. DDPA does not officially endorse, represent, or have any legal connection with any of the resources we share.

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Decoding Dyslexia PA · Reserve Way · Harrisburg, PA 17110 · USA

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