Cupcakes and curriculum change: Dyslexia advocacy is 365 days a year

Dyslexia Awareness Month 2019 was incredible. So much good happened last month that I’m reminded of this famous quote by anthropologist Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead

Advocacy is the work we do as parents, students, educators, literacy specialists, researchers and scientists to create dyslexia awareness, support our children at school, and create lasting change in the education system for all children. This work is not always exciting, and it’s sometimes disheartening, but it’s important to pause once a year and look at our achievements (big and small): We are making gains, slowly, but surely.

Here are some highlights of our Dyslexia Awareness Month:

Right to read inquiry

This is the BIG one! On October 3, the dyslexia community participated in (and cheered on) the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) announcement of its Right to Read inquiry into Ontario public schools:

“Reading is a fundamental skill that students must have to navigate their school experience and their later lives. Our public schools should be able to teach students to read. Yet, this may not be the reality for students with reading disabilities.” OHRC

Students, parents and educators in Ontario — please share your stories with the OHRC Right to Read inquiry.

OHRC_Reading Disabilities_InfoFlyer_2019_EN_1

Proclamations and lighting up red!

All across Canada, dyslexia awareness month was proclaimed and buildings were lit up red, an exciting project coordinated by Dyslexia Canada.

Here where I live, the City approved our first-ever dyslexia awareness month proclamation (submitted by yours truly on behalf of Dyslexia Canada and our local Decoding Dyslexia Ontario). Thank you to City staff for their hard work getting this approved, translated and out in time for October.

City of Ottawa - Dyslexia Awareness Month - October 2019 - Proclamation

I encourage everyone to try this — it’s quite simple really. In my case, I used an online form but you could contact your local city counselor for help.

When we got the email that the proclamation was ready for pick-up, my friend volunteered to get it and bring it to our house:

proclamation in envelope

I rewarded his contribution to the cause with…cupcakes!!


Nancy Young event

Our Decoding Dyslexia Ontario, Ottawa chapter, held a fun and fantastic meeting with Nancy Young. Nancy is a Canadian reading, writing and spelling expert, education consultant, and tireless advocate for children with dyslexia, giftedness and ADHD.

Nancy Young Ottawa Oct 22

Close to 30 parents and educators braved a huge storm to come out and hear Nancy share her expertise in reading instruction, and how to use movement to help children “crack the code.”

split and smoosh
Having fun learning how to “split and smoosh”!

Parents came with heart-breaking stories about their children’s struggles at school. As parents who are on the same path, we were happy to empower them with practical advice and tips on how to navigate (and survive!) the education system. IDA Ontario kindly came out to the event armed with evidence-based information and support (here is their list of reading specialists).

A big thanks to Nancy for giving so generously of her time and expertise to ensure that all children get the support needed to learn to read, write and spell. She left a big impression on Ottawa, and I’m still hearing from people who attended.

Don’t worry if you missed the event! You’ll find resources (video and print) and information about Nancy’s consultation services on her beautiful website.

Nancy Young Ottawa 2019 Ladder of Reading
Look at at these happy faces! Our beautiful community of parents, grandparents, students, and literacy specialists; Nov. 12, 2019, Ottawa.

A global movement

All of this is happening across Canada, the US, England, Australia, and beyond–a global movement, mostly driven by parents and reading specialists–helping each other and doing good-old-fashioned grassroots organizing work.

Kudos also to our amazing allies in the scientific community: neuroscientist Dr. Gaab produced an amazing list of dyslexia myth busters and Dr. Odegard released this knock-out YouTube video for Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Whether you’re working at a kitchen table or in a class room, a university lab or government legislature — it all matters.

What’s next? Dyslexia awareness and advocacy 365 days a year

The Teen Librarian Toolbox, written by a mother/librarian, reminds us that dyslexia doesn’t go away–it is 365 days a year for dyslexic students, adults and their families.

I loved her Dyslexia Awareness Month article that was published in the School Library Journal, which is the “premiere publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens” in the United States. Her message to fellow librarians is this:

“So even though October is coming to an end, don’t let your efforts to know about and serve patrons with dyslexia come to an end. Our patrons need us to do better, even on November 1st. Maybe especially on November 1st.”

Dyslexia, and the need to advocate for those we love, will not go away. Let’s keep the momentum going!

Congratulations to everyone for a great month, and for doing what you do EVERY DAY of the year.

Cupcakes and curriculum change for everyone!!






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