What No One Knows, Will Hurt Our Children
We are living within a system that is harming approximately 1 in 5 children. It is unintentional and no one is to blame, but it is happening. It is a silent destructive force that no one seems to know much about. It is called Dyslexia and can drastically change the course and outcome of one’s life if it goes unnoticed.
Parents and the general public are unaware of what exactly Dyslexia is. I had only heard of it once in my life and thought it was something rare and was defined as seeing words and letters backwards. Neither of these assumptions is true.
The most absurd fact regarding Dyslexia is that teachers are not taught much about it. I have asked numerous teachers and the chair of a university education program and from my understanding it is incorporated into the curriculum, but perhaps not to an effective extent. However, this is not the teachers fault, again, no one is to blame. The problem is that there is a lack of knowledge and information. If we had the information and the tools to do better, we would.
The reason it is so absurd that teachers are not taught about Dyslexia is because the primary warning signs are difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing. Call me crazy, but I think reading is pretty important in regards to obtaining a good education. Reading is the foundation of learning. It can determine a student’s success or failure. So why is this topic not integrated more into college curriculum for teachers? The fact that teachers are not taught enough about Dyslexia to recognize the signs and symptoms in a child is preposterous, and makes no sense.
I am a Registered Nurse. An equivalent analogy to this in my field would be going through nursing school and not learning how to take vital signs or what vital signs mean. Likewise, Imagine going to the Doctor with symptoms of wheezing lung sounds and difficulty breathing, but she/he doesn’t know what to do or how to get you the help you need because she/he learned about everything but Asthma, something much less common than Dyslexia (1 in 12 people have Asthma, 1 in 5 people have Dyslexia). Both teachers and parents should know enough about Dyslexia to be able to pick up warning signs.
When you look at all that the teachers have to do, with the number of students they have, in such a short amount of time, it is amazing. I give them a lot of credit and admiration for all they do. Teachers care about their students and I am certain they would do everything they can to help them. If they knew the signs and symptoms they could more easily identify these students because even if a child has mild Dyslexia, school can be very frustrating. The lack of receiving intervention could mean the difference between going to college or not. It can change the whole course of one’s life. I know this because I am Dyslexic. I found out I was Dyslexic because it is hereditary and I realized my daughter was dyslexic.
My child went from being a leader within her class, with a healthy self-esteem, to losing all her confidence and calling herself “stupid” on a regular basis. What is more disturbing is that I scolded her for being lazy. I didn’t understand why she was throwing fits about doing homework, not wanting to go to school, and suddenly struggling so much. I knew she was smart, so it didn’t make sense. A wise teacher explained dyslexic children to me as smart children who can’t read. Dyslexic people are highly intelligent and creative; Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs all had Dyslexia.
I am not an expert in this area, but I am passionate about making sure the public and our educators are informed about Dyslexia. I am willing to speak to groups for the sole purpose of giving information so that positive change can occur. I know that this can make a difference in thousands of children’s lives. If you would like me to speak, you can email me at
Lisa Burmeister Carsrud, RN, BSN
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW, CAN HURT US
I was unaware until a few weeks ago that there is a significant problem affecting our children. Imagine going through school feeling frustrated every day because you cannot read. You try and try, but you just cannot figure it out. On top of that it is really difficult to write, take tests, and spell. Failure seems inevitable. The only possible explanation is that you are stupid, right? What does the future hold for someone who thinks they are stupid and has been labeled stupid. Do you think this student would ever go on to college after high school? If they make it through high school without dropping out that is.
Some of the primary symptoms of Dyslexia are difficulty reading, writing, and spelling. There are so many other symptoms of Dyslexia and for each individual it can be different. The beautiful thing about Dyslexia is that people with this condition are actually very intelligent in many different ways. What would our world be like if Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, or Henry Ford had dropped out of school? They all had Dyslexia. Heaven forbid Steve Jobs dropped out of school, I don’t know what I would do without my iPhone. Yes, Steve Jobs also had Dyslexia. Then there is the billionaire, Richard Branson whom also has Dyslexia. The list goes on and on.
A teacher once explained it as a smart person who cannot read. People assume that if you have difficulty reading you must be stupid, but in reality people with dyslexia are highly intelligent. People with dyslexia tend to be very creative; have the ability of visual, spatial, and lateral thinking; have superior reasoning skills; think and perceive things multi-dimensionally; and are typically very driven, ambitious, and persistent. They “think outside the box”.
It has been proven that there is a physiological difference in the brain of a dyslexic person. Essentially the right side of the brain is larger. This causes the brain to function differently in relation to words, sounds, and language. No, they do not see words and letters backwards. That is a myth. Another myth is that it is rare. It is actually very common as 1 in 5 people have dyslexia. Think about that for a minute. If there is a classroom of 25 students, approximately 5 of them will have dyslexia to some degree. Fortunately our schools have a literacy program that is an extra intervention for the bottom percentage of students struggling with reading. I’m going to guess that most if not all of the students in this program have dyslexia. Unfortunately, children with dyslexia need interventions that are specific to dyslexia. Standard tutoring and phonics will not be effective for these students. However, with tutoring specific to dyslexia, these students thrive and can catch up to their peers.
The primary problem I see regarding Dyslexia is that we are not informed. Teachers, parents, Administrators, and the general public need to learn more about this. We cannot make positive change if we do not know any better, and right now we don’t know any better. It is important not to place blame or approach this problem from a place of anger or injustice. It is not the schools fault that they do not provide testing or intervention, teachers are not to blame, nor is it a parents fault if a child with dyslexia goes unnoticed. The only way we could ever place blame is if we have the information and then choose to do nothing. I encourage you to become informed especially since October is the National Dyslexia Awareness Month There is a documentary about Dyslexia on HBO, October 29th. Watch it.
We are fortunate in this community to have a non-profit learning center that provides tutoring specifically for dyslexic children. However, it is something that parents have to pay privately for. They run solely on fees and donations as there is no government funding provided. Therefore, if you cannot afford it, your child continues to struggle. I foresee that at some point schools will provide specific interventions for dyslexic children, but before this happens things need to change at a legislative level.
Perhaps our upcoming newly elected school board members could take on this cause and implement change within our local district. I do know that if change doesn’t occur by the next election, I will be running, and when I make a decision to do something I am very driven, ambitious, and persistent to succeed. It is part of my dyslexia.
Lisa K. Carsrud, RN, BSN
If you would like more information on Dyslexia you can email Lisa at
or attend an upcoming informational presentation by Marianne Jylha at the library, October 29, 6:30pm
My Father passed a little over a year ago. When he died I stopped writing. I am now starting again. I wanted to share something I wrote to be read at his funeral. Of everything I have written, this is my favorite. Here it is:
I know it may seem cliche' when someone passes to say that they were special or unique. However, when it comes to Stanley it is a genuinely honest statement. He was a better person than any other I know, myself included.
To be honest, all human beings are special and unique, but not many of them say things like "golly gee" or "gee whiz". I loved that about him. Stan was a special kind of special. He was the kind of man that you never heard complain. He had integrity and always took the high road. he was kind to everyone, whether they deserved his kindness or not. He was sweet, humble, and wise; highly intelligent and hard working. Throughout his life and especially these past years he has always had a positive attitude, a strong belief in himself and never felt sorry for himself.
As a human being in general, he has set a high standard for the rest of us to follow. As a Father he was calm and patient, always laid-back and easy-going.
He was wise in the sense that he saw no reason to create drama where there was none or make a big deal about things. He always went with the flow instead of resisting the flow.
As I sit here writing this I am watching him. Watching him as his soul prepares to go home. And I am thinking, I want to write something very special and create something beautiful to honor him, but as I struggle to write, I realize there are no words good enough to describe the beautiful soul that he is. The one word I see when I look at him is Love. Love is what we all are at our core. It is where we come from and it is where we go to at the end. You see, we are not human beings holding a spirit within us. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
As I write this I am interrupted, I look up at his face and see a change. It is now time for him to go. At the time of his passing he is held. When he leaves I simply say, "he has gone home", and I thank his wife for loving him. To which she replies, "It has been very easy."
My brother made a comment to me and from that comment I whipped up this article about the dangers or growing up on a farm; sounds scary, but is actually a humorous light-hearted article infused with fond memories. I don't think this article is appropriate for publication anywhere, so I thought I would put it on my blog. I hope you enjoy!
A Child’s Life on the Farm
There are many dangers of growing up on a farm. Not scary dangers mind you; fun dangers. For instance, the time we climbed into the corn bin to jump in the corn and my brother Mike scrapped his back on the metal ladder all the way down on one jump.
Then there was the time my brother Mike’s head was pinned against the hog barn by a 2 ton truck used to haul the hogs to market. I just recall him coming into the house with blood running down his face. My Mother totally freaked out for this one! She was from the city though and the city kids just got little scrapes and bruising. Nothing a band-aide and kiss from their mommy couldn’t heal. Us farm kids, we were tough. When we got hurt we needed sutures, pressure dressings, and IV’s; nothing out of the norm for us. We never did have to call the ambulance though. We lived too far out in the country. Our strategy was to drive like a mad man into the ER in hopes that a sheriff would pull us over and then give us a police escort to the ER. It was so fun when that happened, and coincidentally did happen for the “hog truck head wound incident”.
Another time Mike broke a rib when he fell off the rope swing in the hay barn. Did I mention my brother Pat was once attacked by a neighbors bull and tossed against the fence like a rag doll. Just another uneventful day on the farm.
I was not injured on a regular basis like my brother. I saved up for one major occurrence my brother Mike likes to call, “first flight of AirLisa”. I prefer to call it, “how my older brothers almost got me killed”. This story starts with a dirt bike. One day I decided that I needed to learn how to drive the motorcycle. Apparently this was the same day that my guardian angel decided to go out for lunch...take a vacation...a nap perhaps??? So my brothers show me where the gears are and how to drive the motorcycle and off I go. I was doing really well! Up and down the driveway I would go. Then I became overconfident and decided I needed to go faster and take this thing out of first gear. I was ready for second gear! My brothers were playing catch in the yard and I would yell to them every time I drove by, “how do you put it in second gear?” after doing this about 10 times they figured out what I was saying and after I drove by another 10 times I figured out the answer they were yelling back to me.
Once I got the bike into second gear I was in heaven. Oh boy, I was going fast and I loved it! I knew how to drive the dirt bike and could take it all over. I wouldn’t have to take my bicycle 2 miles down the road to the neighbor kids house anymore, I could now drive the dirt bike. I was on top of the world. My life was changing for the better. My “cool” radar had just increased dramatically. If only my brothers had told me that you have to slow down when you go around a curve. You see up until this point the only other thing I had driven was a riding lawn mower and a tractor. They go slow. You can go max speed when taking a curve with no issues.
So I whizzed up the driveway in second gear and as I headed towards the corn bin there was the curve. I was going too fast, panicked, went even faster, couldn’t turn with the curve, went straight ahead and smashed into the corn auger. At the point of impact I literally went flying through the air. I recall thinking, “this is not good!” as I was flying through the air, Fortunately, I landed on my butt. I was not dead, which was good. Mom freaked out again, or course. You think she’d be used to this by now!
The dirt bike was never the same. I recall my brothers grave concern for the condition of the dirt bike. Older brothers are sweet like that!
Even though we had many mishaps on the farm, it was a great place to grow up. However, all of us live within city limits now with our families. We want our children to live to see their twenties!