I am so pleased to feature an interview with Michael Bates: the creator of the Dyslexia Reading Well website and the Dyslexia Reading Well Parent Guide 2014-2015 (Click here to view more details). As a parent of a dyslexic son, Michael has created a wonderful and heart-felt site packed with valuable resources for individuals with dyslexia, parents, teachers and more.
Michael: Because there is overwhelming need for it. There are literally millions of parents with kids who struggle to read, many dyslexics themselves. I am convinced that most of those parents (and many teachers) desperately want to help their children, but are not finding the kind of information and advice they need; my website is intended to help them. I know for fact that many parents are struggling, because I was one of them. I wish we had caught the dyslexia in kindergarten or grade one instead of grade 5—it could have made everything much easier for my stepson.
As a parent, community and even a society, we have to take the problem very seriously. Lives can be derailed and destroyed by reading disabilities. For example research shows that our prisons are full of struggling readers. While there are some good websites out there already, they are tiny compared to the scale of the problem and the need. I felt that reaching even a few parents would make the site worthwhile; but today, seeing the number of daily visitors, and the kind emails I receive every week, I know that many people are benefiting. This feedback is extremely rewarding.
Erica: Why did you create the Dyslexia Reading Well Parent Guide?
Michael: Even though I try to make the website easy to navigate, I recognize that parents have very limited time and can’t get to every page that may be of interest. So I pulled together what I thought to be the critical information parents need and assembled it into one easy to read guide. It’s not a short guide at 80+ pages, but I think it is very easy to navigate and as an e-book, very portable. To be sure, there is more that parents need to know beyond the guide, but if I had been referred to this guide when we first discovered that my stepson was struggling to read, it would have put us on the right path, helping us avoid false starts, unhelpful programs and wasted money. That’s what I hope it can do for other parents.
Michael: The guide is meant to present the essential information: definitions, lists of symptoms and signs and an explanation of causes. There is also some information on assistive technology since that is now so important for every student. But where I think the real value of the guide lies is in the resource lists. First there is a table of reading programs that work best for dyslexic students and an explanation of why they work (the critical content and methods). This can help parents find a reading program that will make a real difference.
|Sample pages from DRW Parent Manual|
Second there is a state by state list of schools, tutoring centers and community groups. This table will point parents to local resources. For example, I had no idea that there are so many schools for dyslexic kids until I started building my website. Also most parents don’t know that there are very active support groups such as Decoding Dyslexia and the International Dyslexia Association that have branches in most every state. My guide helps parents discover those critical links and connections which in turn will lead to more information and support. Finally there is a state by state list of legislation relating to dyslexia. In some states there is legislation requiring schools to assess young readers for dyslexia or laws requiring teachers to be trained for teaching dyslexic students. By knowing ones state mandates (and other states) parents are in a stronger position to assess how their school is performing or where their child might be better served.
Michael: My plan is to make minor updates on an ongoing basis (two already since October) and then make one major annual overhaul before releasing the next edition each October in conjunction with Dyslexia Awareness Month.
One of the benefits (and challenges!) of authoring an e-book is that it can be kept current with the latest science, news, product releases and policy changes that are going on. I am also currently working on a guide for U.K. parents and after that one for parents right here in Canada. Finally, I am thinking about creating other guides for teachers and students.
Michael: The feedback from my Facebook page and through the website has been very positive and encouraging. It’s not yet on Amazon, where it will be publicly reviewed, but it should be soon. Of course as an author, I see room for growth in future editions. For example, I look forward to adding content on Individualized Education Plans, homeschooling, and new assistive technology, which is always in a state of flux.
If you are interested in viewing a free sample or getting the guide, Click here to view more details! You won’t be disappointed.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY. To learn more about her products and services, you can go www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz