Houchin authors bill on dyslexia

Monika Spaulding, Digital Editor

Wanting to save others from the frustrations that plagued her family, Senator Erin Houchin is optimistic about the future with Senate Bill 217.

When her youngest child, and only son, started school, Houchin and her husband, Dustin, could tell something wasn’t right. He was struggling more than their older children, both girls, had when they were in kindergarten and their concerns continued through first grade. It wasn’t until the beginning of second grade that their concerns were confirmed. Their son’s teacher, Erin Moore, discovered in the first two weeks of school that he had a learning disability.

“It was one of the hardest parent-teacher conferences, as you can imagine,” said Houchin.

Senate Bill 217 will require the screening of all students in grades kindergarten through second. The screening would not only be for markers of dyslexia, but also for other issues that lead to learning disabilities.

Houchin said while writing the bill they worked with the department of education for ways to capture those markers, as well as other areas of concern. 

“It’s very common to not catch dyslexia until fourth or fifth grade, or worse case scenario, high school,” said Houchin, adding that the goal of the bill is to detect it as soon as possible. 

She said there is not enough knowledge about dyslexia for educators to always catch it on their own. The bill would require schools to have a reading specialist in dyslexia, who would then be able to train teachers on what to look for. 

Through her research, Houchin learned that ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has similar indicators, which is why dyslexia is often under identified. 

Houchin said kids with dyslexia have to work hard on core functions that come easily to other students.

“It’s like they are learning a foreign language,” she said. 

Read the full story in The Salem Democrat, on newsstands now.

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