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Reading and Writing SOS: Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities

In this special Reading Rockets video series, experts answer real questions from families about reading and how to support their children at home.

National Education Association (NEA)

Reading and Writing SOS was produced in partnership with the National Education Association.

Question: How do I help my first grader enjoy school when reading is hard?

Literacy expert DeJunne’ Clark Jackson encourages parents to find out more about their child’s specific struggles with reading — which begins with a good assessment. And don’t forget to celebrate your child’s reading successes!

Question: Are audiobooks cheating?

Literacy expert DeJunne’ Clark Jackson says that audiobooks are a great way to give struggling readers equal access to language, stories, and information. She encourages parents to ask for audiobooks along with the print versions.

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Question: If I sense that my concerns about my child’s reading are being ignored due to bias, what can I do?

Literacy expert DeJunne’ Clark Jackson believes parents need to trust their gut instinct, find a strong ally as you seek answers and support, and keep detailed records of your interactions with the school. Observe how other parents are treated and seek out public records about your child’s school and the district. If you’re not being heard, present your case to the school, armed with facts.

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Question: My child is upset after being diagnosed with dyslexia. How can I help her?

Children’s author Carmen Agra Deedy (Martina the Beautiful Cockroach) has dyslexia. Carmen shares her own personal experience understanding her dyslexia and learning to celebrate her unique strengths in how she sees the world.

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Question: How do I find a good dyslexia evaluator for my child?

Literacy expert DeJunne’ Clark Jackson suggests that parents take advantage of school-based evaluations if their child attends public school. For private evaluations, be sure to ask lots of questions about the evaluator’s experience diagnosing dyslexia.

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Question: My child with severe dyslexia has a complex IEP. How can I help her?

Literacy expert DeJunne’ Clark Jackson reminds parents to ask lots of questions at IEP meetings — you are an integral part of the IEP team. Always ask, “How will this decision move my child toward success?”

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Meet our experts

Carmen Agra Deedy

Carmen Agra Deedy is a New York Times bestselling author and has been writing and traveling around the world telling stories for more than 20 years. Her books, including 14 Cows for America, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet, The Yellow Star, and Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, have received numerous awards and honors. Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the United States as a refugee and like most immigrants sees the world from multiple perspectives. Carmen has spent the past 20 years writing and telling stories. She has been an invited speaker at venues as varied as The American Library Association, Refugees International, The International Reading Association, Columbia University, The Smithsonian Institute, TED, The National Book Festival, and the Kennedy Center. In those 20 years, Carmen has told stories to hundreds of thousands of school children. They remain her favorite audiences. To learn more about Carmen’s life, books, and her thoughts about the power of stories, see our video interview.

DeJunne’ Clark Jackson

DeJunne’ Clark Jackson is the Vice President of Program Development at The Center for Literacy and Learning (opens in a new window) with more than a decade of experience working with children and adolescents. DeJunne’ has an in-depth knowledge of the necessary school-based solutions for students with attention and learning challenges, particularly struggling readers and students with ADHD. She has served in the capacities of college disabilities coordinator, classroom teacher, school counselor/student services coordinator, and reading interventionist.