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Parents ‘cautiously optimistic’ about B.C. budget’s dyslexia supports

The budget is providing $30 million for screenings but parents worry some kids won’t receive help
Finley Comartin was diagnosed with dyslexia in grade 4 last year and his screening was paid for privately. (Ella Matte/News Staff)

Deanne Comartin discovered dyslexia is an expensive learning disorder to have after she paid almost $4,000 entirely out of pocket last year just to have her son Finley Comartin diagnosed.

The 2024 B.C. budget, addressed the need for more dyslexia support allocating $30 million to fund screenings for more than 150,000 Kindergarten to Grade 3 students over the next three years and to provide new literacy support for 9,000 students annually.

The mother wished she had the extra support last year for her son’s screening, but even if she had, her son wouldn’t have been eligible for the funding as he didn’t receive a diagnosis until he was in grade four.

“He was flagged in Kindergarten and every year they kept saying, ‘it’s too early to tell but let’s look at Grade 3 and hopefully we’ll be able to get him screened.’ Then Grade 3 went and came and then it was Grade 4. That’s when we decided enough was enough and we went privately,” said Comartin.

Cathy McMillan, mother to dyslexic children and founder of Dyslexia BC said she’s “cautiously optimistic” about the $30 million provided by the province for more than 150,000 screenings. The founder added that an estimated 20 per cent of the province has dyslexia which could leave a significant number of students out of receiving the new literacy support.

“If only 9,000 kids are getting help, that means only six per cent of kids are getting help. If 20 per cent have dyslexia, then that’s an awful lot of kids getting left out,” said McMillan.“It needs to be rolled out, properly so that it’s across the board for all kids, not just a select few and from the numbers they gave.”

Additionally, McMillan stated that the new literacy support “remains unclear” whether they’ll be deployed through schools or not. Each month Comartin pays for private tutoring but wishes that support could be provided through her son’s school.

“We do four sessions for 25 minutes, which is roughly $600 a month and he has improved drastically. So, imagine what if they were teaching the children in school, they would just do so well.

The Ministry of Education and Child Care told Black Press Media that more details will be shared in the spring and support will be available in public schools.

Ultimately Comartin is hoping that more support will be offered to students after they are diagnosed.

“It’s really frustrating as a parent because then you see this huge drastic gap. So if you find out your child has dyslexia, then you are faced with the realization that there’s no funding or support for your child in school.”

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About the Author: Ella Matte

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