Just last week, Global BC released a 3-part series titled "The challenges of Dyslexia", which was incredibly enlightening, and it's a short series of videos (2-3 min each) which I strongly recommend everyone watch.
As always, before talking about a subject I believe I need to commit due diligence in gaining at least a partial understanding of it. Growing up in school, I’ve always heard about some of my class mates with this thing called “dyslexia” and as far as I know, that simply meant they didn’t do as well as others on spelling tests and reading. I kept that knowledge with me throughout my childhood and my entire adult life. This is the week I’ve decided to change that, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you.
What is dyslexia? As you may know, Dyslexia is also known as a “reading disorder”. If you learn nothing else about dyslexia today, you should learn this one thing: People with dyslexia have absolutely no problems with their intelligence levels. The cause of dyslexia is due to a problem in the language processing centers of the brain.
How many people are affected by Dyslexia? This is a complicated question that is a bit difficult to answer, as many professionals believe that Dyslexia is severely underdiagnosed. While actual diagnosed cases of dyslexia are in the 3%-7% range, some estimate that up to 20% of the total population may be affected, in varying degrees. Yeah, I was pretty astounded at that figure myself. 1 in 5 people may be affected by dyslexia? That’s a huge number. With these numbers, the situation could seem a bit dire. Fortunately, medical scientists have come a long, long way since the first diagnosis of Dyslexia in 1881.
Fortunately, dyslexia can be managed.
There are many people who have become great successes despite having dyslexia. Richard Branson, one of the most successful business people in the world, is dyslexic. (Sorry, that’s SIR Richard Branson). Actor Tom Cruise is dyslexic also. Steven Spielberg, one of the most celebrated directors, was diagnosed with Dyslexia a mere 10 years ago, in 2007. As the diagnosis of dyslexia becomes more prevalent, society becomes better at diagnosing dyslexia, and as a result, become better at helping those who have dyslexia. Compare this to Sir Richard Branson who dropped out of school at the age of 16; he said that his dyslexia was "treated as a handicap: my teachers thought I was lazy and dumb, and I couldn’t keep up or fit in."
How can we manage dyslexia? Luckily, we have now learned that far from being disabled, those with dyslexia simply learn a different way. People with dyslexia are able to learn just as affectively now with the huge advances in adaptive technology, such as text-to-speech software. There are even now schools with programs, or even entire schools, dedicated to the education of those with dyslexia. This is of course, great news. The downside, as you can guess, is the prohibitive cost.
The financial costs of a specialized school can easily run up towards the tens of thousands. In the Global BC series, 2 families are featured in the series. One family spends around $16,000 a year to send their son to a specialized school in Maple Ridge, and another sends her daughter to a private school in West Vancouver, which costs around $35,000 a year. Even for well-to-do families, these are no small numbers.
Getting the government benefits you deserve. The financial burdens on the families of those with dyslexia can be overwhelming. Although the government has benefits available, the resources specifically for dyslexia are not enough. I believe we should do our best to look into all the possible avenues of receiving additional benefits. With that in mind, one government benefit a child with dyslexia (and their family) could qualify for is the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), and also the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). These are fantastic programs created by the Canadian government to help those with disabilities. Those who have dyslexic family members should do their best to find out about these benefits. Better yet, the DTC team at Firenze Financial Services can help navigate through the complicated maze that is our government system, at no cost to the family Give them a shout!
From what I’ve seen so far in my research, it seems that the diagnoses and management of dyslexia has seen great strides, even in the last couple of years. The downside is that the programs and treatment that are available come at quite a prohibitive cost. Due to this, the families of those children with dyslexia should do their best to plan out their finances accordingly. That way, not only will the academic of the child be protected, so will the financial health of the family.
"NINDS Dyslexia Information Page". National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. National Institutes of Health. 11 September 2015. Archived from the original on 27 July 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
"What are reading disorders?". National Institutes of Health. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.