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Helping Kids Move Past Language-Based Learning Disabilities

Approximately 10% of the population suffer from a communication disorder. 15-20% of the general population has a reading disability and of those, 85% may have dyslexia. How does this affect our community of the Sioux Empire? During the 2016-2017 school year, between Sioux Falls Public and the surrounding school districts, there were 40,136 children enrolled from PK-12th grade. Comparing these statistics to our community, that would mean about 4,014 children would benefit from speech and language services. 

But what about those that don’t receive the much-needed services? A Sioux Empire United Way funded agency, USD Scottish Rite Children’s Clinic for Speech and Language Disorders, has many services and one special niche; dyslexia, to help better serve the children and families of our community. Among the many speech and language disabilities, dyslexia is more complex within the schools. Known as a language-based learning disability, many children who struggle with dyslexia are very bright and would not qualify for special need services. Yet, they still are not reaching their full potential. The three following scenarios are examples of who could benefit from a full evaluation.

  • A high functioning student who doesn’t appear to otherwise be struggling in school, but shows potential to do more. They might be struggling, though intellectually they are doing very well. A situation such as this would most commonly show during a timed test such as the ACT, by evaluating this student, you would learn there are accommodations for students who do struggle with dyslexia that would allow them the opportunity to meet their potential in school and in testing:
  • A student who is struggling with social-emotional issues, and may be receiving treatment for behaviors. It may be possible there is an underlying learning disability, such as dyslexia, that has impacted their social-emotional health:
  • Or, a student who has a known family history of dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Angie Brown, Outreach Coordinator for USD Scottish Rite said, “We do know that dyslexia runs in families. The sooner we are able to notice this, the easier it is for us to help children at younger ages.”  Through a family’s history, the certified speech-language pathologist will be able to better promote and teach literacy to have a significant impact on a child’s success.

These three examples may not cover all of the possible ways a student may be identified as benefiting from a dyslexia evaluation. The Clinic has extensive expertise in the area of positively diagnosing dyslexia. USD Scottish Rite is the only charitable, community-based clinic in South Dakota; providing speech, language, and literacy services to children in our community. Children receive services based on need, not finances or regulations related to qualifying for educational services, in thanks to the conjunction of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at the University of South Dakota, the Scottish Rite Foundation of South Dakota and Sioux Empire United Way. Together, they have a have a strong commitment to children with communication needs.

“Without the community’s support of this Clinic and all the services they offer, especially in the area of dyslexia, there would not be a diagnostic center with the expertise and experience this Clinic offers and that parents can afford.” Stated Jane Heinemeyer, Clinical Director & Instructor, USD Scottish Rite Children’s Clinic.

Your support of Sioux Empire United Way ensures that more than 3,000 students are annually provided with affordable care, support, and assistance to overcome their struggles and be confident in their everyday life.