Pine-Richland to host dyslexia simulation workshop

Friday, September 13, 2019 | 12:01 AM


For students with dyslexia, the classroom can be a frustrating and tiring place.

This month, Pine-Richland School District will host a dyslexia simulation workshop for parents, teachers, staff and community members that will show just how difficult it can be.

The simulation, conducted by the International Dyslexia Association, often turns out to be an informative and moving experience.

“It’s very much a (reaction of), ‘Oh my goodness, this is what my child has been feeling, and I had no idea it was like this,’ ” said Christine Seppi, president of the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. “For parents sometimes it’s very emotional. Even for parents who’ve been working with their child for a long time, it’s a way of feeling what their child feels. It really gets at the emotional part of having a learning disability.”

The workshop will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at Eden Hall Upper Elementary School.

This will be the third time that Pine-Richland has offered the workshop. This session is being offered in response to a parent’s request, said Noel Hustwit, Pine-Richland’s director of student services and special education.

“It has been an eye-opening experience for all participants,” Hustwit said. “Mental exhaustion is a commonly shared outcome.”

The workshop includes six stations through which participants move. In one station, Hustwit said, participants are asked to read a piece of text together, known as choral reading, but the text is barely legible and simulates what a person with dyslexia might see. Afterward, participants are asked a series of comprehension questions based on the text.

In another, Seppi said, there may be a teacher who asks participants to go around the room and take turns reading or who may ask the “students” to write something down in a way that makes it nearly impossible.

“So it’s really very helpful for teachers to realize how students are feeling in their classroom, and helpful for parents to understand what their children are going through and why they come home from school tired,” she said. “It’s because they’re working so hard.”

The important thing to understand about dyslexia, Seppi said, is that someone with the diagnosis is of average to above average intelligence.

“It’s not an intelligence issue, which people often assume,” she said. “It’s a neurological condition that you’re born with and the brain works differently. It makes reading harder. That’s the simplest version.”

During the workshop, they also discuss best practices teachers and others can use when teaching reading that are essential for kids with dyslexia but are beneficial for all kids. Hustwit said the workshop could benefit administrators, teachers, paraeducators, staff members, parents and siblings of children with dyslexia. For more information or to register, go to pinerichland.org/communications, click on eNews overview and registration and go to happenings-PR community news.

For those who are interested, Seppi said, there will be a simulcast of the dyslexia association’s annual conference on Oct. 19 so that those in Western Pennsylvania don’t have to travel across the state. The conference topic this year is “Reading and the Road to Resiliency.” For more information, visit pa.dyslexiaida.org.