Dyslexic Students Face Challenges, Find Success in the RMC Classroom

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Issue_2_10_6_15-006By Caitlin Horton –

Dyslexia. To some people that word is an identity, and to others it is merely a word, nothing more. October has been designated National Dyslexia Month in order to raise awareness about this disability. According to Dictionary.com, dyslexia is defined as “a learning disorder marked by impairment of the ability to recognize and comprehend written words”. When broken down, this simply means that people that have dyslexia have trouble with written words, be it spelling them or reading them.

How does this learning disability affect students at Rocky Mountain College?

According to Austin Learning Solutions, a service provider for dyslexic learners, it is estimated one in ten people in the nation have dyslexia. This means that 100 out of almost 1,000 students at RMC would have dyslexia.

So how does a dyslexic thrive in a college environment? One of the many hurdles that students with learning disabilities have to jump over is in the classroom. Lectures are a dyslexic’s nightmare. Trying to focus on what the professor is saying, and then writing that information down is nearly impossible. By the time a dyslexic student has written down one point, the professor has already moved on to point three, which can make learning a challenge. When asked about the challenges she faces while taking notes, Kaitlyn Welsh (2016) stated, “Without visual aids I miss a lot of what the teachers are saying.”

When asked what has helped him to be successful at college despite his learning disability student Will Bosley stated, “Modern technology, like laptops and iPads, have been a great help.” Given that most people can type a lot faster than they can write, using tools such as a laptop or a tablet can help many dyslexics keep up in class. Still, if a student cannot spell a word (as is often the case with dyslexia) it can render their notes useless.

Services for Academic Success (SAS) is a support program on RMC’s campus that helps eligible students successfully complete college. To be eligible, students must either be a first generation student, from a low in- come family, or have a documented disability. Through SAS, dyslexics can get assistance from note takers, among other things. Each week a class- mate, who does not know who is receiving their help, is paid to turn their notes into SAS director Bob Ketchum. Then, students who need them can pick them up at the end of week in their own personal box at the SAS center.

Is this an unfair leg up in the college environment? Why does one student get help while others do not? Dyslexics need a little extra help just to compete on the same level as a student without a learning disability. When asked about other students using laptops in class to take notes, student Shay Sturdevant said, “Laptops can be distracting to my note taking, but I can understand that certain students need help.” Having the support of students without learning disabilities is incredibly important to success in the classroom for those who do struggle with a learning disability.

At RMC, there are a lot of programs that can help students struggling with learning disorders succeed in the college setting. Having a learning disability like dyslexia no longer means that a student is going to fail. Also, due to increased public awareness and the dedication of an entire month to dyslexia, people are more open to talking about learning disabilities and creating ways to help those in need. Needing help is never a bad thing.

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