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Summer Greetings: 

Back to school is nearly upon us and it is clear that this fall semester will be nearly as trying as the sudden closure of the schools last spring. No matter where you stand on these matters (prefer full in-person return, hybrid, virtual, sports or no sports), one thing we can all agree upon is that this situation is taking a toll on the mental, physical, and educational well-being of many of our children. 

We, here at DDPA, strive to provide Pennsylvania parents with up-to-date and relevant resources, as well as parental support and education. Please do no hesitate to reach out to us via our FaceBook Page or Email address with any content suggestions or questions. We are happy to help. 

Recently Representative Ed Neilson re-introduced HB 2784 Creating Dyslexia Intervention Professional Development Requirements and on August 13, 2020 it was referred to the Education Committee. HB 2784 has 13 co-sponsors: Dominic Costa (D), Susan Helm (R), Tina M. Davis (D), Stephen Barrar (R), Michael J. Driscoll (D), Eddie Day Pashinski (D),  Thomas P. Murt (R), Stephen Kinsey (R), Maria P. Donatucci (D), Perry Warren (D), Bernard T. O'neill (R), Dan L. Miller (D), and Tarah Toohil (R). 

Decoding Dyslexia PA is urging everyone to write each of these state representatives to thank them for their support of this bill and to reiterate why this bill is important not just you, but all Pennsylvanians. For your convenience all active representative's names listed above have been hyperlinked to their Contact Page.  Additionally, please write your own local representative and ask them to support this bill as well. If you do not know your legislator, you can find them at Find My Legislator

Decoding Dyslexia PA is finalizing sample letters that anyone can use to write their state representatives regarding HB 2784. They will be available on our website and will also be shared on our FB page no later than 08/22/20. 
The Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association is now accepting registration for its' 42nd Annual Fall Conference on Reading, Literacy, and Learning. This year's conference will be the first virtual PBIDA conference and for the first time will provide 10.5 continuing education credits to Social Workers! Continuing education credits will also be available for a variety of other professions, including ACT 48, IMSLEC, and ASHA. Visit for complete details.


As many schools have already decided to return to school virtually for the first quarter, trimester, or semester, understanding what types of supports can be provided virtually is important. School's may often tell you that they cannot do something simply because they don't know how or don't want to burdened with providing it. To help parents educate and equip themselves for these back to school meetings, DDPA'S own Hollie Woodard curated an excellent resource for virtual SDI's. Her google site for Virtual SDI's can be found here

Emily Handford from APM Reports released another Education Podcast this week. As always Emily's podcasts are something you don't want to miss!

A false assumption about what it takes to be a skilled reader has created deep inequalities among U.S. children, putting many on a difficult path in life.

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 Pediatricians about dyslexia, the importance of early screening, and really laying the groundwork to build a reciprocal relationship with Pediatricians 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 pediatrician, providing a brief screening at the 48 month well-care visit 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 Pediatricians. You can read, print or download the letter here. It is our hope that you will share this letter and its resources with your pediatrician, your friends or colleagues who are pediatricians.  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. 
DDPA's Lisa McCarty and Lois Letchford discuss the trauma children and parents experience when kids are identified too late or not identified at all. Lisa and Lois share their sons' experiences in this video.
Copyright © 2020 Decoding Dyslexia PA, All rights reserved.

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