Community Scholar Debbie Meyer Advocates for Dyslexic Children and Struggling Readers

Maggie Barrows
May 14, 2020

Columbia Community Scholar Debbie Meyer is working to address the systemic issues and the policies that allow dyslexic students and struggling readers to fail, including pressuring universities to address these issues in their teaching programs. Her work involves educating the public about dyslexia, including the role of dyslexia and poor literacy education in mass incarceration.

Meyer is a founding member of the Dyslexia (Plus) in Public Schools Task Force, a small group of community leaders working to help students with dyslexia and related language-based disabilities thrive in their neighborhood schools, and she works with the Decoding Dyslexia NYC Chapter.

Below are two recently published articles written by Meyers.

It Was Hard Being a Dyslexia Mom Before Coronavirus and Now It’s Even Harder - Education Post

For me, helping my son go from a bright but illiterate fourth-grader to a high school student who can read and write was an incredible full-time job. It was really hard to understand that a regular public school–even our wonderful, progressive elementary school that taught him so many things—couldn’t teach my son to read. 

Because I was an early reader, I didn’t get it. Even my husband, who also has dyslexia, didn’t really get it. But I learned. I learned how to interview neuropsychs to find one to match my kid. I learned how to get the appointments, how to ask the right questions. Another barrier to get over was understanding that most neuropsychs know as little about how the education system works as most teachers know about the cognitive science behind how we read.

And now, parents like me who are just beginning their journey are supposed to be teaching and advocating for their children while coping with COVID-19, whether they are on the front lines of fighting the virus, working from home—or worse, having just lost a job.

Read the full article at Education Post.

I Stood Up for My Kid When He Couldn’t Read, Now I Help Other Parents Do the Same - Project Forever Free

Advocating for your own kid, or teaching other people—doctors, dentists, teachers, etc.—about your kid, is something you learn as you go along. Even if you don’t work with any single barrier for long, your overall advocacy skills build with experience.

I learned this the hard way. I successfully advocated for my illiterate, suicidal fourth-grader to get a free and appropriate education at a school specializing in proper instruction for dyslexic kids and struggling readers. I also advocated for my mother, suffering from frontotemporal dementia, to get appropriate care at an assisted living facility.

In both cases, I was quick to understand that the powers-that-be thought they knew more and had more power than me. I gained confidence and balanced the scales by learning more, so I could approach conversations from a place of knowledge. I didn’t have to get a teaching degree or a psychology degree, but I had to learn what my son and mother needed, and understand why they weren’t getting it.

Read the full article at Project Forever Free.