It can be a difficult disorder to diagnose, but can affect one in five children. During Dyslexia Awareness Month teachers and staff at one local school are helping educate parents about recognizing language learning disorders. Fortune Academy on the east side is a nonprofit school specifically serving children with dyslexia, ADD and ADHD.
"Children who are struggling with language based learning in what we call a traditional classroom really struggle with self-esteem issues. They know they’re not learning it's not working for them, these are bright kids but when they have to put pencil to paper they can not get the word out," said Janet George, creator of Fortune Academy.
The school uses visual teaching techniques and class sizes as small as three to help children in subjects like reading, math and spelling.
George explained dyslexia and other language learning disabilities are often undiagnosed, especially if the child also has ADD or ADHD. She said children may feel stupid and frustrated and parents may just think their children are distracted or uninterested in school.
"Not able to do rhyming, or recognize the initial sound in a word, difficulty counting 1 to 20, or saying ABC's, a hard time sitting still, those are some signs," said George.
The Dyslexia Research Institute reports nearly 15% of the US population has dyslexia and that less than 5% of people with the disorder are properly identified in a regular school setting. Children with dyslexia are often high IQ and gifted at sports, arts and music.
Fortune Academy uses the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching which uses a lot of multi-sensory classroom instructions.
Drama teacher Julie Pappas said she struggled in the classroom as a child and didn’t know she had a language learning difficulty. Now she uses music, movement and art to help her students learn visually.
"We are more aware these days of how children learn and more in tune with when children are falling through the cracks we need to make a change and do something different," said Pappas.
George explained more and more psychiatrists and family doctors are referring children to an alternative type of education. Fortune Academy offers after school tutoring for non-students as a way to supplement traditional classroom instruction.
The Dyslexia Institute of Indiana and the Children’s Dyslexia Center in downtown Indianapolis also offer information about diagnosing dyslexia and resources for families.