The times they are a changing…

greta thunberg science

On September 27, we marched alongside 20,000 people, mostly youth, at the Global Climate Strike in Ottawa. It was my daughter’s idea — she made a fantastic sign, and I went along to show support.

Under a bright blue sky, we marched peacefully but with purpose.

It gave me hope.

Greta Thunberg is the 16-year-old Swedish climate advocate who is leading the charge around the world.

She reminds us to “look at the science” of climate change. This is exactly how I feel about dyslexia and the science of reading. It tells us that dyslexia is a brain-based difference that responds to early identification and systemic, structured literacy reading instruction. And yet, our schools don’t teach this way.

It’s been a long, difficult journey, but I think change is coming.

On October 3, the Ontario Human Rights Commission launched a Right to Read inquiry into barriers facing students with reading disabilities all across our province and in my city, Ottawa, in particular. Over the next year, the Commission will reach out to students, parents, educators, and school boards. They will release a report with recommendations in 2020.

Here is part of their statement:

“Students with reading disabilities have the right to learn to read. Yet, the OHRC is concerned that students with reading disabilities are not getting the supports they need. This is all the more troubling because reading disabilities can be remediated with early intervention and support. As part of its inquiry, the OHRC will hear from parents, students and educators across the province. It will also assess whether school boards use scientific evidence-based approaches to meet students’ right to read.”

Science. Early intervention and support. The “right to read.”

This is hopeful!

How did this happen?

I believe that like Greta, our kids are finding and using their voice.

They are demanding change, and people are starting to listen.

Our kids have learned how to self-advocate (unlike my generation whom had no choice but to hide in the shadows).

They are telling us that their learning differences are being identified too late; they are not being taught to read, not getting adequate support or accommodations. That they are being bullied.

I’ve watched my own daughter speak directly to educators and politicians about her experiences at school, and what she needs to learn. She speaks candidly and directly.

To her, dyslexia isn’t a big deal; being failed by the public education system? That’s something she can’t get her mind around.

5 things a 12-year-old wants you to know about dyslexia

Our kids shouldn’t have to advocate for schools to teach them how to read. They should be freed up to do what teens do — whether that’s hanging out with their friends or marching for a cause.

Maybe though, our kids – the kids who’ve had to work extra hard to get through school, who are constantly having to push back against bullies and haters — are the ones who will change the world.

Greta calls Asperger’s her superpower. She’s not wrong.

Watch out world. The times, they really are a changing!

“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say – we will never forgive you.”  ~Greta Thunberg, UN Climate Summit, New York, 23 September 2019

What youth are telling us

Straight talk on reading from dyslexic youth

5 things a 12-year-old wants you to know about dyslexia (blog)

How I didn’t learn to read (blog)

What students with dyslexia want you to know (blog)

Survey says: Canadian youth with learning disabilities suffer higher rates of mental illness and unemployment (blog)

What science is telling us

Dyslexia and the brain (Understood video) – Guinevere Eden, PhD

The Reading Brain – Maryanne Wolf

Unraveling the Myths Around Reading and Dyslexia (Edutopia)

How science is rewiring the brain (NPR)

Why Millions Of Kids Can’t Read And What Better Teaching Can Do About It (NPR)

What Teachers Should Know About the Science of Reading an interview with Emily Hanford

What science is telling us: Do dyslexic brains work differently? What reading instruction works best? (Dyslexic Library blog)

Ask an expert: Q&A with Nancy Young (Dyslexic library blog)

Ask an expert: Dr. Maggie Snowling and the history of dyslexia (Dyslexic Library blog)


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