Undiagnosed at School: Why Many with Dyslexia Don’t Get Help
Project Baltimore’s phone lines are lighting up over concerns about the devastating impact of undiagnosed learning disabilities. Most all the callers saying their dyslexia was not diagnosed by the public school system.
“I would say it's because if they diagnosed it, that they'd have to pay for the intervention, and it becomes a funding issue,” says Paula Moraine from the International Dyslexia Association in Towson.
Dyslexia is a disability where the brain struggles to process language, making it harder to read and write. According to a Yale University study, upwards of 20% of the U.S. population show symptoms of dyslexia. But U.S. Department of Education records suggest at most, five percent of students nationally are diagnosed with a language disorder, like dyslexia, and receive extra help.
If those numbers hold true, here’s what it means in Maryland, where there’s 886,000 students. If 20 percent show signs of dyslexia, that’s 177,000 kids. But remember, the U.S. department of Education reports that just five percent of all students are getting help for a language disability. Meaning, there’s around 130,000 students in Maryland, who could be dyslexic, and are not receiving the help they need.
“I think a lot of schools face the kind of budgetary challenges where any expense is too much of an expense,” says Moraine. “My experience, my personal experience here in Maryland, is that we don't have enough teachers who have the effective training.”
And that training, according to Moraine, is what’s costly. But as dyslexia is better understood, more resources are becoming available, like the Dyslexia Tutoring Program in Baltimore and various online and digital instruction. But Moraine says the best way to combat dyslexia is in schools, where it needs to be diagnosed then addressed.
“That is our dream, that is our goal,” she says. “We must eventually arrive there.”
Project Baltimore reached out to the Maryland State Department of Education. We were told the state does not currently collect data on dyslexia, so we don’t know exactly how many Maryland students are receiving help. The Maryland State Department of Education is beginning to collect that data, but it will not be available until next year.