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High-Achieving Students Say Dyslexia Is a Superpower!

Categories: Education & Teaching, Learning Disabilities, Student Centric Learning

"Superpower"... is the word used by Nick Foley and Brenna Stampe to describe dyslexia, a learning disability that makes it difficult to process information in standard print. Dyslexia is a challenge, but it hasn’t stopped Nick and Brenna from accomplishing academic success or their life pursuits. 

Come along as we highlight a recent video interview with Nick and Brenna who now advocate on behalf of children and teens with dyslexia. These high achievers want to equip teachers and parents with the knowledge and resources to better understand this learning difference. Special thanks to Lisa Willever, host of Brainstorm, a YouTube educational channel for hosting this important topic. 

Nick and Brenna want educators and parents to know...

Dyslexia does not hold a person back from achieving high goals in school and life.

An estimated 13 million people in the U.S. has dyslexia -- one in five students. People with dyslexia process information differently. If provided with quality supports, such as a reading accommodation, they can better manage their learning disability. 
Struggling ReaderIf undiagnosed, students feel left behind in class. They struggle with homework and in social settings. Their grades suffer. Many hide their shame because they learn differently. Their parents and caregivers want answers to how a school or teacher will approach students with their learning differences.

Ear-reading works...learning through listening 

Brenna is a junior who loves to sing, write songs, paint and draw. She’s really smart and takes AP language classes. Often in her daily reading assignments, she will be required to read twenty pages per night from a textbook 900 pages thick. Brenna says, “I am grateful that I have a 504 plan that requires a reading accommodation. I love to listen to Learning Ally audiobooks because I learn and comprehend more information in less time. If I did not have this tool, I would study all night and be frustrated and tired. Dyslexia is a part of who I am. It makes me stronger and smarter.”  In college, Brenna will major in visual arts. 

Nick takes honors classes and is a powerful swimmer and a voracious reader. He credits Learning Ally and a tutor who helped him address his learning differences. Nick reads and studies on an iPad and iPhone. He says, “Dyslexia is one bump in the road to success.” Nick will study business in college. 

Audiobooks work whether you are a ‘right brain or left brain’ thinker 

Lisa Willever says, “You and I might read fine from a printed book, but students with dyslexia may require a different experience, such as listening to text aloud and following highlighted words on a digital device.” Willever is a former teacher and has had many students in her classrooms who struggled to read. “Whether you are a right brain or left-brain individual, ear reading may address your reading barriers through audiobooks.” 

Ear-reading is a relatively new term. You may also hear “universal design for learning or UDL” or multisensory reading. Nick says, “Human-read audiobooks make characters and the story or textbook more real.”   

Dyslexia looks different in every person. 

Some children and teens experience difficulty reading basic chapter books or they are unable to remember sight words. Some may be poor writers and spellers. Too often, teachers and parents miss the warning signs and mistake a child with dyslexia to be nervous, dumb, or exhibiting bad behavior or accept meager comprehension and fluency skills. If children and teens take hours to do homework and continue to be frustrated in the reading process – audiobooks may be a beneficial solution. It was for Nick and Brenna.

What do Nick and Brenna want teachers and parents to know? 

People with dyslexia have the ability to be highly intellectual. They characterize dyslexia as their “Superpower.” 

Many of the world’s accomplished individuals have dyslexia such as Writer John Irving, Arctic Explorer Ann Bancroft, Surgeon and CEO Delos Cosgrove, Sculptor Thomas Sayre, and Poet Phillip Schultz. Read Aidan Colvin’s book, “Looking for Heroes,” to be truly enlightened.  

Nick and Brenna advocate for quality education and assistive technology in schools. As Learning Ally Youth Ambassadors, they are part of a network who mentor children and teens with dyslexia. 

Nick and Brenna use Learning Ally to study many subjects in school. They appreciate schools that now provide students like them with access to digital instructional content and accessible books. 

Learning Ally offers access to 80,000 titles in K-12 curriculum, literature and popular books for all ages and grade levels. More than 13,000 U.S. schools and districts now partner with the nonprofit.

It is never too late to support a person with dyslexia

BUSTING through false myths... 

Myth #1 – Dyslexia is a barrier to education and students with dyslexia cannot learn or become high achievers.

Myth #2 – Students use dyslexia as an excuse to do less homework.

Myth #3 – Audiobooks are cheating from reading real books.

Myth #4 – When students read on a device it distracts the class. 

Myth #5 – If students go undiagnosed, it is too late to make a difference in their academic achievement with a reading accommodation. 

Nick and Brenna’s advice to students… 

“Do not hide behind dyslexia. Learn from it and let it be your superpower. Persevere to find the right tools and resources. Ask for a reading accommodation, like Learning Ally, to gain reading confidence. Don’t give up and share what works for you!”

Educators can learn more here!

If you or your student has dyslexia, try reading an audiobook to experience learning in a multisensory way. EAR reading is the ability to see and hear text aloud to enable the brain to actuate an effective learning process.  

Special thanks to Lisa, Nick and Brenna. Lisa’s video series, Brainstorm, brings great minds and ideas together to shape a better future. She is also the author of the Nicky Fifth series. 

K-12 teachers, please join our Facebook Teacher Talk.

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