By Amy Bounds, Staff Writer, POSTED: 10/20/2018 10:00:00 AM MDT
If you go
What: Struggling Readers Symposium
When: 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sunday: Experience Dyslexia simulation
2 to 3 p.m. Sunday: Meet the experts event for parents and discussion group for kids only
3 to 4 p.m.: Presentation by athlete Chris Anthony
Where: University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business Koelbel Building, 995 Regent Drive, Boulder
Cost: Simulation is $10 and requires registration athttps://tinyurl.com/y94cchbq. Rest of the event is free, no registration required.
More info: bvkid.org
Chris Anthony wants kids to see dyslexia as a super power, not a disability.
“It’s a different way that their brain is wired,” he said. “It’s like an X-Men mutation. Rather than look at it in a negative way, how do we learn to use this different way of thinking and open up the windows of opportunity?”
He’s speaking Sunday at a Struggling Readers Symposium at the University of Colorado. The event is organized by parent advocacy group BV KID, or Boulder Valley Kids Identified with Dyslexia.
Anthony, a Denver native and CU graduate who’s dyslexic, is a professional skier, cyclist and filmmaker who founded the Chris Anthony Youth Initiative. The initiative connects students to education enrichment and mentors.
He said he grew up “as the kid always put in the special ed classes.”
“You’re looked at as the dumb kid,” he said. “That doesn’t help you with your self-esteem. I always had to figure out creative ways to make it through the system.”
Mentors helped him learn to adapt to an education system not set up to help students who learned differently, while his skiing prowess gave him the opportunity to go to college.
“We need an education system that sees each kid as unique,” he said. “We have to figure out a way to allow there to be more flexibility for each individual to progress on their own terms.”
Along with Anthony’s talk, Sunday’s symposium includes a dyslexia simulation and a resource fair for parents where they can connect with experts on language processing learning disabilities.
“It’s a great place if you don’t know where to start,” said Jeannine Wyer, a Boulder Valley parent and member of BV KID.
New this year is a kids-only event with a panel of dyslexic kids answering questions about how they handle challenges.
“We wanted to create a socializing opportunity for kids,” Wyer said. “Kids who feel like they’re the only ones can see there are kids who have similar experiences.”
In the simulation, participants are guided through six learning tasks to help them better understand what dyslexic students experience in school.
The tasks include writing with a nondominant hand, filling out a work sheet while listening to several people talk over each other, and reading a story out loud with “words” written using symbols.
Melodie Weis, who has second-grade daughter diagnosed with dyslexia at Mesa Elementary School, is planning to attend the simulation this year.
“I can maybe understand my daughter a little better,” she said.
Her husband attended the first symposium last year because he suspected their daughter might be dyslexic, she said, adding the symposium connected them to resources that included a tutor.
“It helped to get those resources so quickly,” she said.
They also had their daughter formally evaluated and diagnosed at the University of Colorado over the summer.
Along with a tutor, her daughter’s second-grade teacher is using literacy methods that work for dyslexic students after receiving training — along with all of the school’s teachers — over the summer. The training was paid for through a school fundraiser.
“At the end of the last school year, she would cry and get frustrated,” Weis said. “Now, she asks to read to us, and she loves to read.”