Charmaine Cardin hopes for the community’s support to raise awareness during Dyslexia Awareness month. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Vancouver Island mom says proper support lacking for dyslexics

October is International Dyslexia Awareness month

“Every time I hand this to somebody, I’m assuming you can read,” Charmaine Cardin said as she handed over a package of material.

“Isn’t that interesting? I think we all just assume that because we think reading is just as natural as speaking and it’s not. It’s proven that it’s a taught thing, a learned thing.”

Cowichan-based Dyslexia Awareness crusader Charmaine Cardin, an early childhood educator by trade, has only learned all about dyslexia during the past two years as her family has come to learn one of her daughters struggles with it.

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“They don’t call it ‘dyslexia’ at school. They call it ‘specialized learning disability’. That’s the biggest problem to start with,” Cardin said.

“We have to all get on the same page. It is what it is what it is. It’s like if you went to the doctor with a thyroid problem and I went to the doctor with diabetes and someone else goes for hypoglycemia and the doctor just gives us all the same medicine because ‘that’s an internal thing.’ It’s too vague.”

Cardin said everywhere she goes, she finds others in similar circumstances.

“A big part of it is the shame,” she said. “Students with dyslexia are in the same position as a person who is wheelchair bound but welcomed and expected to show up in a government building every week day where no ramp exists, then told, once inside, ‘OK, now walk. You can do it’.”

Cardin said her youngest daughter took no interest in writing as a preschooler and letters continued to be a problem as she entered Kindergarten. She repeated her first school year.

“By the spring of Grade 1 the teacher catches on to this as well and puts her name in for testing. That doesn’t happen until the end of Grade 2,” Cardin said. “We found out that she is indeed dyslexic.”

Teachers are not catching kids soon enough, Cardin noted, and then when they do, the help isn’t the right kind.

“It’s not about money. They’re already paying people to do something that doesn’t work,” she said. “There are supports in place in that there is pull out help for children that need extra help but what they’re doing is just more of the same of what they’re doing in the class so when you’re dealing with a dyslexic brain, you’re dealing with a child that doesn’t learn that way, period. Why don’t we pull out and just do more of the same? Because that’s not the definition of insanity right?” she added. “They can claim that they’re supporting but they’re just doing the same thing and there’s science based accommodations that have been proven. They’re not looking at the science and matching it to the need.”

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This can be fixed with awareness, Cardin said.

To that end, Cardin hopes that all month, but particularly during the week of Oct. 20, and Oct. 21 specifically, where many will be lighting up and/or wearing red to raise awareness.

“This is not a fundraiser, it’s not even about money,” she added. “It’s about awareness. Hopefully with support and love and understanding — with people being aware that it’s OK to know your brain is different, because you haven’t been told that before — it might help lift the level of shame off.”

Merchants and supporters can show their support by wearing red, handing out silver ribbons or by decorating a bulletin board or doorway in red. Teachers and students can show their support by wearing red on Oct. 21.

To learn more please visit www.dyslexiacanada.org/mark-it-read.

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