Editor’s note: October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. This is the first in a series of articles on dyslexia that will appear in the Register this month.
BROOKINGS – Dyslexia advocacy often comes from a personal place, a connection to someone who dealt with dyslexia firsthand. For Barb Rounds, her personal connection came by way of her son, Garret, who struggled with reading and writing in his elementary and middle school years.
As a former reading interventionist in the Brookings School District, Barb worked with students who were struggling with reading, writing and spelling. She helped students on a one-on-one basis or in small groups who were behind in their literacy. Working with these students, Barb had known about dyslexia but hadn’t done a “deep dive” into the subject. A class she took sparked her curiosity and made her think about many of the challenges Garret went through.
“(Garret) had been told for so many years that he wasn’t trying hard enough and that he didn’t pay attention,” Rounds writes on her website.
“When I did my research, I found out that dyslexia affects learning in so many different ways.”
After taking more classes on dyslexia and furthering her research, it became clear to Barb that her son “had been trying the whole time, but the teachers were simply not trained in working with disabilities related to dyslexia.”
Barb remembers helping Garret study for tests, only to have him bomb them in school the next day.
“I started getting frustrated, because I would say, ‘Garret, we studied this,’” Barb said. “I asked the teacher, ‘Can I have a copy?’ Once he started cutting them out and pasting the words in the blanks is when he would get it. But the teacher wouldn’t let him do it during the test because she said that wasn’t how the test was designed.”
Garret was evaluated for dyslexia following high school and learned that he was dyslexic, realizing then that he learned differently than others but was still a very capable thinker. This restored his confidence and allowed him to learn his own way, eventually moving on to work at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Garret’s struggles and eventual success fueled Barb’s passion for helping students with dyslexia. She thought that there must be lots of other students who were struggling because of unrecognized or undiagnosed forms of dyslexia. According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia effects 15% of all students, a majority of which are often undiagnosed.
Working as a reading interventionist with students who already were struggling with reading, she began incorporating some of the methods that she had learned through her research. This included tactile learning by making letters out of clay and placing lowercase letters out of sequential alphabetic order.
She also began to learn that students with dyslexia may have behavioral challenges due to auditory processing or executive function deficits, something that she witnessed while working with students in the school.
She observed that students with behavior issues could be chalked up to students struggling with school, something that was likely related to undiagnosed dyslexia. In her experiences with her own son, she realized that students with dyslexia could easily be distracted in class or so focused on their own reading issues that they may miss other things trying to be taught.
“Garret told me that when a passage was being read out loud by the class (“popcorn reading”), he would count the paragraphs until he was going to be called because he was afraid when he called his name he wasn’t going to be able to read it,” Barb said. “Well, did you think he was hearing anything that was going on before?”
When an opportunity arose, Barb took her passion and decided to open up her own business to help students struggling with dyslexia. On June 1, Thriving Minds SD (Success with Dyslexia) opened and Barb began accepting clients.
As an education dyslexia consultant and Orton-Gillingham certified, Barb works one-on-one with students to help them work through some of the troubles they may be having. A common sign of dyslexia is confusing b’s and d’s, but according to Barb, dyslexia can take on a number of different forms, which means that she is doing different tutoring to each unique situation.
Barb is not just a dyslexia tutor but also a dyslexia advocate, helping educate parents on the issue in what can be a very difficult time. Dyslexia often times has a negative connotation, which Barb hopes to change.
“Thriving Minds is here to not just help the learner one-on-one but the whole family in realizing dyslexia is just finding the right educational options to match one’s learning style and that will begin a pathway to success for learners with dyslexia,” Barb writes on her website.
Other services that Thriving Minds offers is consulting services for families navigating special education programs at the schools and finding other resources in helping families who have children with dyslexia.
Thriving Minds SD is located at 619 Fifth Ave. Suite 5, Brookings, and can be reached at 605-692-5622 and [email protected]
For more information, visit Thrivingmindssd.com.
Contact Addison DeHaven at [email protected]