Dyslexia will be focus of events

National Dyslexia Awareness Month may be in October but several upcoming events aim to bring that learning disability into local awareness right now.

The Liberty School will be hosting a dyslexic spelling bee tonight. Modeled after “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” the event’s contestants are students of the private school, which serves dyslexic and twice-gifted first- through eighth-graders. The bee is a fundraiser for the students’ sister school in South Sudan. Money raised will be sent to the Djabal Refugee Camp School to buy classroom supplies, books and materials for facilities as well as provide teacher training.

On Thursday, the Back Space Theatre will be hosting a showing of the “Journey Into Dyslexia.” The film profiles dyslexic students and adults as they share stories about their personal struggles and triumphs.

A two-day conference beginning March 16 aims to provide a deeper layer of insight into dyslexia and other learning disorders. The conference, titled “Diamonds in the Rough: Mining Every Child’s Potential,” features speakers who are nationally-known in the world of special education and learning disabilities.

Diana Hanbury King is an author and a founding member of the International Dyslexic Association Foundation and founded a summer camp and internationally-renowned school for dyslexic students.

Rick Lavoie has worked with children with special needs since 1972. He has served as an adjunct professor and visiting university lecturer and is a consultant on learning disabilities for media organizations such as PBS and The New York Times. He has produced several books and videos about learning disabilities.

The conference will be a way for parents, educators and college students to learn more about learning disabilities and best practices for teaching and parenting dyslexic students, said Myriam Palmer, a volunteer with the local branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

Local awareness about dyslexia is “abysmal,” said Joyce Bilgrave, one of the conference’s organizers and a co-founder of several schools for dyslexic students, including The Liberty School.

“Until we alert the community it’s the kind of thing that is swept under the rug,” she said.