A new group on the Border aims to “build the bridges” of learning for parents and teachers of children with dyslexia and learning challenges.
The Albury-Wodonga Dyslexia Support Group Facebook page has already attracted 100 members since its launch in August 2016.
Administrator and co-founder of the group Sarah Allen said the group was borne from a need to provide a forum to connect parents, teachers, support services and information.
Together with close friend Wendy Dallinger and with the assistance of Dr Julie Fry, senior educator in community services at Wodonga TAFE, the group aims to create a broader awareness and understanding of learning differences such as dyslexia.
It’s also a safe space where people on the same journey can connect with others and reach out for support during what can sometimes be a very difficult and frustrating process to find answers for children experiencing learning difficulties, she said.
Ms Dallinger saw a real need to “jump on the bandwagon” of establishing a support group after her own experiences chasing down a diagnosis for her daughter, Kate, 9.
Her daughter’s problems with literacy and learning had been ongoing since she was three years old.
She recalls the arduous and frustrating process of desperately trying to find answers when Kate was not progressing in both kindergarten and Year 1.
At various stages she flagged her concerns with teachers but was told to “keep on keeping on”.
It wasn’t until Kate was in Term 3 of Year 2 that it was suggested further assessment was required.
“We have spent the last four years trying to pinpoint where her learning difficulties were,” Ms Dallinger said.
“But I always felt we were clutching at straws. We even underwent six months of vision therapy at a cost of $1200.”
It wasn’t until a psychological education assessment (at a further cost of $850) that Kate was diagnosed with dyslexia.
Ms Dallinger believes the group is a fantastic resource to support other parents who may be undergoing a similar journey.
Ms Allen , who is studying education, support and disability at Wodonga TAFE, said it was often the case that parents had to be persistent in getting to the bottom a child’s reading problem.
Dr Fry believes a more collaborative approach between schools, teachers and parents was needed to ensure better outcomes for children at risk of falling through the cracks.
“Between prep and grade three children learn to read and after that they read to learn,” she said.