From: Gayle Knapp
To: David Lifferth,
Subject: Please vote for SB117
Date: Wed Mar 04 11:48:09 MST 2015

Dear Representative Lifferth :


The Utah Senate just passed SB117. I am writing both as a resident of Utah and as a dyslexia tutor (of both children and adults) to request that you support SB117 and vote it out of committee for the House to vote on. The children of Utah need this bill to become law. The economy (did you know that about 75% of the youth in juvenile detection are dyslexic?) of Utah needs it


Approximately 1 in 5 children have some level of dyslexia which affects their ability to read. If not diagnosed and treated, it results in frustration and low esteem in children which continues on into adulthood. It is no good telling a dyslexic child “just try harder” or blaming the dyslexic parent of a dyslexic child because they “didn’t read enough to their child.”


Dyslexia is treatable—we’ve known how since the 1930s (thanks to Orton and Gillingham) and have had solid research-tested methods since the 1980s. Phonemics, not phonics, taught in a multi-sensory way is the method. However, first, it has to be recognized in a child. But, teachers have not been trained to identify dyslexia early in school. SB117 is legislation that would guarantee that dyslexia be identified in school children because would be teachers trained to identify dyslexia. It also provides funds for teachers to get this training.


As a tutor of dyslexic children and adults, let me share a few observations from the trenches. I have observed first-hand the unfortunate consequences of our failure to detect and deal with dyslexia in a timely manner.


As undiagnosed and untreated children progress in school they often become frustrated and insecure in their abilities. How many times do they have to hear: “If you only tried harder…” They KNOW there is a problem but don’t know what to do about it (they just know that trying harder doesn’t work). Many of them disconnect from learning because they don’t understand the lesson and ultimately start acting out in class due to boredom. They get labeled as troublemakers and may ultimately fulfill that label in ways that land them in juvenile detention.


·         Did you know that about 75 % of the youth in jail have dyslexia. Think about the economic savings if we intervened with these dyslexic youths BEFORE they gave up on learning!


The parents of my young dyslexia students try everything they can at home and in conferences with teachers, testing professionals, and administrators. All that is of no avail. They are frustrated and angry. Here are some examples from my students:

·         One mother, dyslexic herself, was told by her son’s resource teacher: “You should read more to XXX.”—What a disconnect! 

·         Another parent, whose child exhibited multiple symptoms in my initial screening, was tested by multiple professionals at his school who each concluded that he didn’t qualify for Resource on the basis of each testing PART. Had the results been taken together, their SUM would have added up to a dyslexia diagnosis.

·         Another mother spent thousands of dollars on outside testing because the school refused testing. The professional diagnosis was “auditory processing difficulty” as per the psychological testing codes. This code is where dyslexia is grouped. However the school assumed it to be a hearing problem and refused accommodations. These parents are out thousands of dollars that SB117 will save future parents.


The adult students whom I have tutored had very much the same experiences in school. As adults, they retain the low-esteem and frustrations from their school years. They have trouble getting or changing jobs because they can’t read or fill out job applications. Truly amazing changes occur in them as tutoring progresses and they gain confidence in their abilities.

·         One told me she now realizes that she really IS INTELLIGENT

·         A 50+ year-old man/was almost in tears when he learned to read /e/ /l/ /k/. That’s “elk” and he finally could spell/read the name of an animal he hunted.

·         Another student should be the poster child for Adult Dyslexia. She holds only an Alternate High School diploma, having been placed in Special Ed and not taught the standard high school education curriculum. She actually told her guidance counselor: “Don’t graduate me, teach me!” HOWEVER, with only this “second-class” diploma, she has worked through AmeriCorps, intervening with at-risk school children in Logan and in Washington state. She currently works at a residential program for at-risk/problem teens and tells me that the numbers of dyslexics she sees in that program makes her cry.

·         The adults with whom I have worked initially screened at ~3rd grade reading level. The forecast for jobs in the 21st Century maintains that all (even low-end) jobs will require employees to have a 12th grade reading level to succeed.


I apologize for the length of this letter. I needed to make you aware of the desperate need there is for the passage of SB117 in the House. We must empower teachers with the tools to recognize dyslexia and make sure every child has the tools (reading) for success.




Gayle Knapp

Providence, UT

Professional Dyslexia Tutor