Dyslexia

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COLUMBIA - "I just didn't want to read. I strayed away from it. And when my mom finally got me to read, it would be backwards."

Hayley Cape is a senior at MU, and remembers how she realized she might be dyslexic.

"I would want to start at the end of the book and then go to the front of the book. My mom thought it was just because I was left handed that I wanted to do that," she said.

Cape was diagnosed with dyslexia in fourth grade, but her struggles with learning started before that. 

"Kindergarten, first grade I was doing fine. I was social, I had good memorization. It was nothing. And than second grade rolled around, and my parents realized something was up," Cape said. 

And she said things got worse in third grade when it came to reading and writing, where Cape said her reading and writing levels were two grades below her peers. 

Cathy Cook owns OnPoint Learning Center, where she tutors children with dyslexia.

She has a unique way of looking at the learning difficulty, as she and her four children have dyslexia.

"Dyslexia from my viewpoint is just a different way of learning. It's a different perspective on doing life," Cook said.

This was the focus this week, as the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia presented a report recommending that all students in kindergarten through third grade be screened for dyslexia beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. The report also recommended students who show signs of difficulty in literacy, and have not been previously screened, be screened. 

Cape supports screening children for dyslexia. 

"I feel like, nowadays, everybody has a niche, everybody has their own Achilles heel. So I mean, if they are able to catch something early on when the kids are in elementary school, then why not do it?" Cape said.  

Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, is the the chair of the task force. She said early identification is very important to help students with reading difficulties receive the appropriate education. 

"By identifying and addressing this reading failure, students will not only be successful in school but successful in life. If our children do not learn to read they will, and cannot, read to learn," Swan said in a statement on the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education website. 

Cape also encourages children who are diagnosed with dyslexia to be themselves.

"Be proud of that. Be the individual that you are," she said.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has to develop dyslexia screening guidelines by December 31, 2017. The recommendations also include that teachers have to complete two hours of training each year. 

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