Finally, a groundbreaking book that reveals what your dyslexic child is experiencing—and what you can do so that he or she will thrive
More than thirty million people in the United States are dyslexic—a brain-based genetic trait, often labeled as a “learning disability” or “learning difference,” that makes interpreting text and reading difficult. Yet even though children with dyslexia may have trouble reading, they don’t have any problems learning; dyslexia has nothing to do with a lack of intellect.
While other books tell you what dyslexia is, this book tells you what to do. Dyslexics’ innate skills, which may include verbal, social, spatial, kinesthetic, visual, mathematical, or musical abilities, are their unique key to acquiring knowledge. Figuring out where their individual strengths lie, and then harnessing these skills, offers an entrée into learning and excelling. And by keeping the focus on learning, not on standard reading the same way everyone else does, a child with dyslexia can and will develop the self-confidence to flourish in the classroom and beyond.
After years of battling with a school system that did not understand his dyslexia and the shame that accompanied it, renowned activist and entrepreneur Ben Foss is not only open about his dyslexia, he is proud of it. In The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan he shares his personal triumphs and failures so that you can learn from his experiences, and provides a three-step approach for success:
• Identify your child’s profile: By mapping your child’s strengths and weaknesses and assisting her to better understand who she is, you can help your child move away from shame and feelings of inadequacy and move toward creating a powerful program for learning.
• Help your child help himself: Coach your child to become his own best advocate by developing resiliency, confidence, and self-awareness, and focusing on achievable goals in areas that matter most to him.
• Create community: Dyslexic children are not broken, but too often the system designed to educate them is. Dare to change your school so that your child has the resources to thrive. Understanding your rights and finding allies will make you and your child feel connected and no longer alone.
Packed with practical ideas and strategies dyslexic children need for excelling in school and in life, this empowering guide provides the framework for charting a future for your child that is bright with hope and unlimited potential.
Praise for The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan
“A passionate and well-articulated guide . . . This extremely practical and motivational book will be welcomed by parents of dyslexic children.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Accessible and reassuring.”—Library Journal
“This step-by-step guide will become a go-to resource for parents.”—James H. Wendorf, executive director, National Center for Learning Disabilities
“I study dyslexia in the lab and am a parent of a wonderful daughter who fits this profile. Ben Foss’s book should be considered essential to any collection on the subject. It was extremely useful, especially for a mom.”—Maria Luisa Gorno Tempini, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology, UCSF, Memory and Aging Center
“As someone with a learning profile that made school tough, and as a parent, I know kids need the right support. Ben Foss knows how to get access to education because he’s been through it. I was thrilled to read this book. It offers a wise collection of insights that are both practical and touching.”—James Gandolfini, actor, The Sopranos
In a passionate and well-articulated guide that puts to rest the idea that dyslexic people are unintelligent, disabilities advocate Foss (himself dyslexic and the creator of Intel Reader, a text-to-speech device) describes dyslexia as a characteristic and a disability that should be accommodated in the same way as blindness or mobility issues. Foss reframes the use of film, audiobooks, and material read aloud as "ear-reading," in contrast to the "eye-reading" that is the educational standard. Though, as Foss notes, eye-reading is a useful skill that can be improved by teaching methods like Orton-Gillingham, by mid-elementary school, dyslexic students should be accommodated with auditory materials. He hopes that parents can learn to explain their child's needs in a way that will win them essential support, and that they can help their child build self-esteem. Foss describes the current state of assistive technology and highlights the availability of material from resources like Learning Ally; he also discusses how to navigate good accommodations in the school environment and determine if a school is inappropriate for your child's welfare. This extremely practical and motivational book will be welcomed by parents of dyslexic children.
I've worked in the field of learning disabilities education for fourteen years, and this is the first book I've read on dyslexia that provides a roadmap for parents to help empower their children. It is the book I wish I had copies to give to every parent who walks through my door, who has recently learned that their child is dyslexic or that their school is failing them. While components like research, science, and stories of success are woven throughout the book, Foss' main objective is to help parents build a plan for their child, which includes identifying strengths, navigating the school system and legal rights, how to integrate accommodations, including assistive technologies, and, perhaps most importantly, how to talk with their child about their dyslexia. Why is this so meaningful? Most texts on dyslexia provide background; this book provides a path. It's the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" for the parent of a dyslexic child, and it's accurate, meaningful, and sincere because Foss himself was identified with dyslexia at age eight.
Dyslexia is a hidden disability, not just because it can't be seen, but also because many dyslexics, including the author for many years of his life, try to hide it. Embarrassment, shame, guilt, and stigma are all components of why people hide their learning disability. Foss provides great stories, analogies, and actionable steps that steer people away from looking at dyslexia as a disease. As Foss says, "there is no cure because there is no disease." Tools, like the strength profiles map, allow parents, and dyslexics themselves, to begin building a plan for how to leverage their strengths and create an environment in which they will be succesful. There are also form letters and templates, like those to help parents navigate the IEP and legal processes, and numerous resources, both in the book and referenced on the web, that will help parents and their children immediately.
There are several great books on dyslexia, but if you are a parent of a child identified with a learning disability, or you even think s/he may have a learning disability, this is THE FIRST book I would recommend reading. Foss teaches dyslexics how to integrate their dyslexia, which is the most important component of all.
A Complete, Practical Guide to Understanding Dyslexia - Best (& Perhaps First) in Its Class!
In his book, The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, Ben Foss does many things really well. He describes what it was like growing up with dyslexia and how he learned to accept it as part of who he is, all with a sense of humor that makes his story relatable to his readers. He lets dyslexics and their families know that they are part of a vibrant community known as The Nation of Dyslexia, in which the unique skills of the dyslexic brain are to be prized and celebrated. He does an excellent job introducing how assistive technology can level the playing field for dyslexics, and how it can be paired with Orton-Gillingham instruction to give dyslexic students the best chance for success in school and beyond. He gives a clear, understandable explanation of the legal rights of dyslexic students and how parents can advocate for their children and get the accommodations to which they are entitled. Finally, he fills his book with practical ideas and valuable resources that promise to become part of the standard discussion on dyslexic education going forward. All told, Foss has written the most complete and readable book that I have read on this subject.
Not only will this become an invaluable guide for all families coming to terms with dyslexia, it should become required reading for all teachers, as it will give them a comprehensive understanding of the dyslexic students they will all find in their classrooms.
Jamie P. Martin, Coordinator of Assistive Technology
The Kildonan School