#students | #parents | Fight for the right to learn: Huntsville mother advocates for dyslexic kids

“Even if I get her identified, there’s no intervention. They’ll give her a laptop and say here you go, there’s your education. That’s not learning to me,” she said.

Fuscaldo has set up a Facebook page called Ontario Reads to give people advice on getting their children assessed and where to access resources, she said.

Recently, she gave a presentation to MPP Norm Miller to push for the province to modify the curriculum so that all students are taught better learning methods, she said.

“We need to change the curriculum where it matters the most, which is from kindergarten to Grade 3 because right now, the way they’re teaching children is using whole language,” she said. “It’s basically a way of teaching children not to necessarily focus on the phonemes and graphemes, but to look at the whole word and memorize it.”

Fuscaldo tutors her children after school, and in addition to advocating for more resources, she’s asking organizations to use the term dyslexia instead of the umbrella term ‘learning disability.’

“(The term) learning disability just narrows it down to the struggles that they have,” she said. “If you identify them early and provide them with explicit, systematic, multi-sensory instruction, a good majority of them will go through their entire lives without having to be identified — and then there ceases to be a disability,” she said.

But her ultimate goal is for her children to live fulfilling lives.

“I’m more interested that they have the skills to be the most independent and literate as they can be,” she said.

But what happens to people who struggle with literacy once they’re finished school?

Jack Smyka is the program manager for the Literacy Society of South Muskoka, an organization based in Gravenhurst that helps adults with all types of literacy, to help them gain employment and independence.

Smyka is a retired school principal who also used to work in social services, so he understands the importance of literacy in leading a successful life, he said.

“There’s a very strong link between literacy and poverty and health, employment, civic engagement, justice and corrections. So, people that are having difficulties with literacy fall between the cracks,” said Smyka.

Lifelong learning is essential, and he encourages anyone struggling with literacy to reach out for help.

“I think people feel isolated when they are having difficulty,” he said. “But the main thing I would say to them is you’re not alone and there is help for you — because you’re never too old to learn.”

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