Michelle Monroe, St. Albans Messenger
MONTGOMERY — All of Brittany Lovejoy’s children have varying degrees of dyslexia, and Lovejoy has become an advocate both for her own children and others with dyslexia.
The mother of four children who are dyslexic has been so successful at it that due to her efforts Gov. Peter Shumlin has proclaimed October Dyslexia Awareness Month.
Lovejoy, of Montgomery, called the proclamation “a baby step.” As the founder of the Vermont chapter of Decoding Dyslexia, a national advocacy group, she wants to see mandatory training about dyslexia and how to teach dyslexic children for Vermont’s teachers.
She also believes strongly that Vermont should follow Arkansas’s lead in screening all children for dyslexia as they enter kindergarten. An early diagnosis means students don’t have to fail at school before getting the specialized instruction they need, explained Lovejoy.
Parents of young children who are seeing their children struggle with school often contact Decoding Dyslexia for help. Even when there is a family history of dyslexia schools will tell parents to wait and see how the child develops rather than sending the child for dyslexia screening, said Lovejoy. “We really should be giving them help now,” she said.
Her youngest child, J.P., is an example. Already diagnosed with dyslexia, his parents worked to prepare him for school, helping to learn the alphabet and match letters with sounds. “He actually started kindergarten ready to learn,” said Lovejoy.
Unlike his older twin sisters who quickly became disenchanted with school, J.P. wants to go to school, Lovejoy said. “He feels so good about himself,” she added. “He’s never had to fail.”
On Oct. 15, the Vermont Family Network will be host of a webinar titled “Dyslexia: Parent and Professional Perspectives.” It will include information on how to identify the signs of dyslexia in children, how to obtain a diagnosis and how to work with schools to ensure children receive the services and accommodations they need to learn.
“The school can diagnosis a specific learning disability, but they can’t diagnosis dyslexia,” said Lovejoy.
Lovejoy will present as part of the webinar, along with Fran Toomey, professor Emeritus, St. Michael’s College Graduate Program in Special Education.
“They really can learn and learn well,” said Lovejoy of dyslexic students, as Vermont’s most famous dyslexic, Gov. Peter Shumlin, can attest.