Insights & Expertise

Dyslexia Awareness Month: Tips for Parents and Educators

In honor of Dyslexia Awareness Month, Jackie Galbally, PhD, assistant professor of special education and reading interventionist coordinator, offers tips for parents and educators.

Child using tool for reading

Dyslexia Awareness Month is recognized throughout October, as communities and advocates look to raise awareness about the disability that affects individuals of all ages. According to recent data, dyslexia is more common than many realize, as it affects up to 20% of the population and represents 80% of all students in special education. 

Jackie Galbally, PhD, assistant professor of special education, has dedicated much of her career to educating professionals about this disability and supporting those affected. Galbally also oversees the University’s reading interventionist certificate program, where Saint Joseph’s was the first university in Pennsylvania and one of five in the U.S. with accreditation at both levels of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading

She offers the following tips for parents and educators to help intervene and identify signs in children who might be at risk:

Tips for Parents:

  1. Screen Early: If you are a parent of a young child between the ages of 4-7 years old (pre-K through first grade), set up a screening through EarlyBird. You can make an appointment for a free EarlyBird screening with Everyone Reads PA. This screening will provide you with a profile of your child’s literacy strengths and weaknesses, and empower you to take action before weaknesses become a problem. Early intervention is up to four times more effective than waiting until your child is already having difficulty. 
  2. Trust Your Gut: If you’re feeling concerned about your child’s reading skills, there is probably an issue. Reach out to your child’s healthcare provider or organizations such as Decoding Dyslexia or Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association or your local state branch of the International Dyslexia Association.
  3. Check Their Curricula: If you have concerns, make sure that the curricula and instruction your child is receiving isn’t part of the problem. Watch this video of a child “reading” and understand how guessing and reliance on pictures can mask reading difficulties. Use this tool to ask thorough questions about your child’s curricula

Tips for Educators:

  1. Utilize Resources: There are many helpful resources available to educators. Consider Reading Rocket’s Reading 101 self-paced course to understand the basics or use this tool to evaluate any graduate programs you might be looking at. Florida Center Reading Research and UFLI Foundation both have great ideas for student activities.
  2. Enlist Parent Partners: Check out Read By 4th’s parent education modules and home activities. These are great resources for back-to-school nights, literacy nights and more. 
  3. Check Your Curricula: Wondering if the curricula you are using at your school is aligned with the Science of Reading? Grab your colleagues and evaluate your curriculum using the Reading League’s Curriculum Evaluation Tool.
Jackie Gallbally speaking at event

Galbally recently spoke announcing grant funding to support Structured Literacy at a dyslexia awareness event held earlier this month at Pennsylvania's state capitol. Photo courtesy of the PA Senate Democratic Caucus.