Blog Against Disablism is a meme started by Diary of a Goldfish,
"to write about disability and rail against the discrimination that disabled people continue to face."
In this post, the Goldfish wrote:
Ableism or Ablism is the term more commonly used in the United States and thus more prevalent on the Internet as a whole. Then there's the simple and perhaps most easily understood term of Disability Discrimination. I am using Disablism because that makes sense to me in the context of my own disability politics; that is to say that I happen to think it is a better term. However, given the breadth and depth of the issues we are facing, I don't wish to argue this too strongly.
Go check out the blogs that are participating at
One in five Americans lives with a disability. The next time you are in public, look around you. One in five of the people you see will have a documented disability. It could be a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis or AIDS; it could be a hidden disability like ADD (or AIDS); it could be a visible disability like cerebral palsy or Down syndrome; it could be a disability that prevents that person from learning easily, or hearing or seeing; it could mean something obvious like being a wheel chair user but it could also be something hidden like depression or mental illness. Whatever that disability is, whether you can recognize it or see it or not, remember the number.
But as you can see, when there is a problem with our children, we actually get LESS support sometimes than a nondisabled family would. We even have to fight for our rights to take care of the problem ourselves sometimes. We have to prove that the problem is just a typical childhood thing and not due to our disabilities. We are on our own a whole lot. Support is sometimes rare.
What I know from first-hand and some pretty darned close second-hand experience is the problems disabled kids face in education, especially in the primary (kindergarten through sixth grade, roughly).
In the United States, our system of educating teachers is failing to prepare them to teach students to read. This burden falls particularly heavily on students with specific learning disabilities in reading.
Last year, the National Council on Teacher Quality published an extensive study of the curricula on reading in a statistically valid sample of schools of education in the United States. Download the PDF of the executive summary.
Two key findings:
It's actually worse than that, even, as the balanced literacy/whole language folks actively despise the sort of teaching that kids with SLD-reading need:
Effective Teaching to Remediate Dyslexia--These steps must be mastered in order! Phonemic Awareness is the first step. You must teach someone how to listen to a single word or syllable and break it into individual phonemes--the individual sounds. The person may also have to have awareness raised--that /pin/ SHOULD sound a little different than /pen/. The learner also has to be able to take individual sounds and blend them into a word, change sounds, delete sounds, and compare sounds --all in their head. (Non dyslexic children learn these before the reading task begins. These skills are easiest to learn before someone brings in printed letters.)
Phoneme/Grapheme Correspondence is the next step. Here you teach which sounds are represented by which letter(s), and how to blend those letters into single-syllable words.
The Six Types of Syllables that compose English words are taught next. If students know what type of syllable they're looking at, they'll know what sound the vowel will make. Conversely, when they hear a vowel sound, they'll know how the syllable must be spelled to make that sound.
Probabilities and Rules are then taught. The English language provides several ways to spell the same sounds. For example, the sound /SHUN/ can be spelled either TION, SION, or CION. The sound of /J/ at the end of a word can be spelled GE or DGE. Dyslexic students need to be taught these rules and probabilities.
Roots and Affixes as well as Morphology are then taught to expand a student's vocabulary and ability to comprehend (and spell) unfamiliar words. For instance, once a student has been taught that the Latin root TRACT means pull, and a student knows the various Latin affixes, the student can figure out that retract means pull again, contract means pull together, subtract means pull away (or pull under), while tractor means a machine that pulls.
How it is taught
Simultaneous Multisensory Instruction: Sometimes we rattle this off and don't really explain what it means or why it is important This can be confusing to parents
- Sight or seeing, using the eyes = VISUAL
- Hearing or listening, using the ears = AUDITORY
- Feeling or touching, using the skin = TACTILE
- Moving through space and time, using the whole body = Kinesthetic
Reading and writing go together; writing is a kinesthetic task--(can you feel how all the muscles in your hand and arm work to form letters as you write a sentence?).
Research has shown that dyslexic people who use all of their senses when they learn (visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic) are better able to store and retrieve the information. So a beginning dyslexic student might see the letter A, say its name and sound, and write it in the air -- all at the same time.
Intense Instruction with Ample Practice: The dyslexic brain benefits from overlearning--having a very precise focus with lots and lots of correct practice.
Direct, Explicit Instruction: dyslexic students do not automatically "get" anything about the reading task, and may not generalize well. Therefore, each detail of every rule that governs written language needs to be taught directly, one rule at a time. Then the rule needs to be practices until the student has demonstrated that she has mastered the rule in both receptive (reading) and productive (writing and spelling) aspects. Only then should the tutor introduce the next rule.
Systematic and Cumulative Many dyslexic students are not identified until later in their academic careers. They have developed mental "structures" of how English works that are completely wrong. To develop good written language skills--reading and writing--the tutor must go back to the very beginning and rebuild the student's mastery with a solid foundation that has no holes or cracks. The student must learn the the logic behind our language, by encountering one rule at a time and practicing it until the use of the rule is automatic and fluent when both reading and writing (spelling). The student must learn to connect previously learned rules into current challenges.
Synthetic and Analytic: dyslexic students must be taught both how to take the individual letters or sounds and put them together to form a word (synthetic), as well as how to look at a long word and break it into smaller pieces (analytic). Both synthetic and analytic phonics must be taught all the time.
Diagnostic Teaching the teacher must continuously assess their student's understanding of, and ability to apply, the rules. The teacher must ensure the student isn't simply recognizing a pattern and blindly applying it. And when confusion of a previously-taught rule is discovered, it must be retaught.
NOW WHAT? There are a number of places to get help. The International Dyslexia Association can help, as can LD Online and Schwab Learning Susie Barton has a very helpful site.