Decoding Dyslexia PA Newsletter
May 2020 
May is Mental Health Awareness month, but if you are a parent of a child with dyslexia, it's very likely that you already know MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS every day! For our children with dyslexia, what begins as a learning problem can quickly descend into an emotional one. Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, and Substance Use Disorders all have high comorbidity (they occur together) with dyslexia. Suicidality occurs more frequently in the dyslexic population compared to the non-dyslexic, or general population. Sadly, a suicide event occurs 30% more often in the ADHD population. (Suicide events are suicidal thoughts or ideation, suicide attempts, or steps taken to prepare for an imminent suicide attempt.) 

According to Sandie Barrie Blackley, school assignments can serve as triggers for our dyslexic students, leading to intense, negative emotions, fear and anxiety, thus leading to memory and attention issues, then onto physiological manifestations of that unrest. This cycle, known as the anxiety cycle, has been well documented and researched. In this
blog post shared on, you can read more about how the anxiety cycle can be adapted to describe the dyslexic experience in a phenomenon called "The Dyslexia Vortex". 

As you can see this vortex of negative thoughts, emotions, and experiences can have a profound impact on the mental health of our children with dyslexia. As I have already said, this probably isn't news to you, if you are a parent of a child, or children, with dyslexia, or if you, yourself, are dyslexic. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) has an excellent resource on taking our children from
"Distress to De-stress" . The article provides 9 excellent tips; Define, Educate, Speculate, Teach, Reduce the Threat, Exercise, Success, and Strategize, that can build a toolkit for your child to cope with the emotional distress.

I won't recount the full details of that article here, as you can read it in
its' entirety through the link above. I will, however, emphasize the importance of equipping your mental health toolkit with a wide variety of strategies. Here is a list of basic strategies for your toolkit: 

Mindfulness/Meditation exercises, including guided meditations 
Keep to a routine or schedule as much as possible
Write in a journal or diary. 
Use positive affirmations/law of attraction
Exercise or take walks 
Get plenty of rest
Talk to a friend.
Talk to a mental health professional
Spend ten minutes writing down everything good you can think of about yourself
Do something that makes you laugh
Do something special for someone else
Listen to music, make music or sing

These tactics are easily adaptable for all ages. Blowing bubbles or blowing a pinwheel is an excellent way to teach mindfulness to even the youngest child. Playing in sand, with clay or playdough is another exercise that this therapeutic for any age group. Yoga, stretching, and even guided or self meditations are suitable for all ages. (Be mindful of your expectations on how long a young child will sit for a meditation!) It is never to late or early to teach about the joy and reward felt in service to others. Modeling these behaviors and attitudes is the best way to make them part of your family routine. We know children learn and model parental behaviors and attitudes.  Start with yourself and take care of your mental health. 
- Written by Jessica McKee MSW 
Enjoy this poignant video on the emotional experience from the perspective of a dyslexic. 
Attention parents and guardians with children 0-11 years old. Gaab Lab and Boston Children's Hospital are interested in the effects of COVID-19 on your child's learning at home.

The study is being conducted by Nadine Gaab, Ph.D., within the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Developmental Medicine, at Boston Children's Hospital.

If you are interested, you can complete a short survey at

DDPA is thrilled to hear of the May 21st Digital World Film Premiere

Our Dyslexic Children, premiering via an online streaming event you can watch from the comfort of your home! The official streaming link will be provided on this Twitter from account  
@ourdyslexickids or on their website Please click the image above to register for the panel discussion. 


Earlier this spring, Decoding Dyslexia PA hosted the first Parent Series Webinar: Why is my Child Struggling to Read. If you missed the live event, you can view the recording above. Stayed tuned for future installments of the Parent Support Series Webinars. 
The Decoding Dyslexia PA Action Coordinators Team wishes
a Happy Mother's Day to all of the warrior mothers out there!


Mother’s Day just came and went, but spending it away from family stirred up old memories and helped me appreciate even more all you moms of dyslexic children who give so much every day to help your kiddos.  Moms are the front line of defense, the warriors, the comforters, the ones who shed happy tears every time their children do one new thing well, discover one new learning, etc. Moms nurture, correct, encourage, comfort … I could go on and on! AND Moms get really tired, angry, exasperated, feel helpless to get the job done at times, sad, and can be just as in need of support as the others in their families. We sometimes forget that.  So, right now!  Thank you, Moms! 

In working with the moms in DDPA,  in what we call our Action Coordinators Team, I am constantly impressed with our moms’ tenacity, creativity, senses of humor, intelligence and willingness to add yet another task to their already overloaded weeks.  Because of these traits, these moms and other moms are going to continue to be key figures in our massive effort to get much needed help to our children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, ADHD, etc.  

The state of Oklahoma’s legislature just passed a screening bill… It was the last bill up for vote before the end of this session AND the senator who pushed it through was ending his term of office! Wow!   Someday, Pennsylvania will have this kind of progress, too. AND it will be the moms who are a significant force in making it happen.  

Thank you, Moms! You are special and often unappreciated when we should be giving you a big hug and a huge THANK YOU. This month, we are appreciating you, in particular. Hope you get some ‘Me time’ to catch up with yourself. Hope you also get lots of happy times with family during the remaining couple weeks to build memories on which to draw years from now, as I did this week.

Anne Edwards
A DDPA leader


Share your high school senior! If you know a senior in high school who is graduating this year and has worked extra hard because of dyslexia, the Dyslexia Training Institute wants to know. They would like to share the stories on their FB page of the kids who persevered and made it happen. DTI  knows they will not have a traditional graduation this year and the folks at DTI want to try to make that reality just a little less painful. More importantly, we all know how hard our dyslexic seniors have worked and we want to celebrate that effort. DTI will share the stories on their FB page as they receive them, add their names to a raffle, and on June 10, 2020 we will choose the name of a lucky senior who will receive a $500.00 visa gift card. We will also have two prizes for two more lucky winners. If you are interested, please send your senior's story along with pictures ASAP to

We are so proud of the class of 2020 and we know this experience will make you stronger and more resilient people in the future. Congratulations to all of you for your hard work and dedication!



We are always looking for active and passionate members to raise dyslexia awareness, empower families to support their children, and inform policy-makers on best practices to support students with dyslexia in PA. There are multiple ways to become involved:

  • Join our mailing list and receive monthly newsletters.
  • Join our Ambassador program and participate in as many or as little activities that interest you. There are no obligations and we expect to share 1 or 2 messages per month.
  • Join the DD-PA chapter as a full member and participate in meetings and activities that interest you.

Together we can make a difference!     

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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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