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What is an Ombudsman?

Thank you group

First, we would like to take a minute to thank John Eisenburg and Pat Abrams of the ‪‎Virginia Dept Of Education‬ Special Education Dept for taking time to sit down with DDVA earlier this month!

Second, Resource Alert!!! DDVA families who are struggling in school, we (VDOE and DDVA) encourage you to reach out to the state ‪ombudsman.

Q: What is an Ombudsman?

A: “Ombudsman” is a Swedish word meaning citizen representative or advocate. An ombudsman is a person who serves as a ‘designated neutral’ who advocates for a fair process.

Q: What does an Ombudsman do?

A: The ombudsman acts as a source of information and referral, aids in answering individuals’ questions, and assists in the resolution of concerns and issues. The ombudsman serves as a resource to parents in non-legal special education matters.

How do I contact the ombudsman?

Gloria Dalton, Parent Ombudsman
Phone: 804-371-7420 or 800-422-2083

For more information please visit the VA Department of Education Website here:



DDVA Meets Scott Sonnon

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DDVA member Kristin Kane and her family had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Sonnon.


If you don’t know who Scott Sonnon is, or if you haven’t had the opportunity to watch his recent TEDx video, take 15 minutes to watch.  When your done, come on back and let it all sink in.



Wow, right?

Ok, fast forward to recent news that a speaking tour is in the works!  I know, I know we will keep you posted about Virginia!

Wait it get’s better…. Scott has asked for our community’s help with his presentation.  Talk about really representing our kids and their strengths.

Below you will find Scott Sonnon’s request and the guidelines of how we can get involved.  Please spread the word!!  What a tremendous opportunity for our dyslexic kids to shine, and to be appreciated by all who come out to see this tour.

Cheers, Decoding Dyslexia VA


Scott’s Request:

Dear parents of our proud dyslexic amateur artists,

I am about to give the first of many free admission public spending engagements for Decoding Dyslexia, on August 11 in Michigan. (The national tour is being organized for 2015, intending to be coordinated between DD, Eye to Eye and the Museum of Discovery.)

In my multi-media, audience interactive, town-hall presentations, I’ll be using a Mac Keynote overhead projection of visual imagery to aid in the multi-sensory grokking of the concepts discussed. I need drawings which illustrate 6 key concepts. If your child would want to volunteer, and I use their illustration in the presentation, I’ll give them full credit on the slide and in the videos to be published free to YouTube. Message me in private here and I’ll give you the 5 concepts from which to select one or more to draw and submit. I’ll only be selecting one drawing per child so I can showcase the diversity of talents from our “1 in 5s” wunderkin. Deadline is AUG03 and selections made on AUG04.

I’m so looking forward to their wonderful drawings!

We are Legion,

Scott Sonnon

Chief Operations Officer



Here’s the request I’ve been sending the parents who’re contacting me, so I can both involve our kids in my presentation AND celebrate their talents AND offer a multi-sensory presentation!

Dear parents,

Please ask your child to select one or more of these illustrations to create:

1. A drawing of “Positive Perspective” – how what seems to be a negative, seen through a reflection, like a mirror, pool of water, a light casting a shadow, etc, can be your most powerful positive!

2. A drawing of “Allies and Assets” – show your group of friends, family, teachers and therapists can help you find and grow your unique talents, like a community, tribe, team striving to help one of its members.

3. A drawing of the “Victory of your Voice” – share an illustration of how your style of learning has helped you develop a unique voice in the world, like your song or symphony of expression.

4. A drawing of your “Purposeful Process” – draw an example of one or more of your unique strategies for learning in your own way. Everyone has their own Process for learning; finding your process reveals your purpose. What’s yours?

5. A drawing of your “Original Organization” – an illustration of how you transformed, through hard work, one of your ideas in reality. We are each originals. How has your hard work helped you make cities out of the clouds of your imagination?

Please use a 8.5×11 sheet, and send in JPG format to with the subject heading DRAWING TO DECODE DYSLEXIA.

I’ll send out notifications of the selected drawings on AUG05.

Thank you so much for ALL of your drawings. This isn’t a contest for who’s is best, but only for which one could fit the presentation most accurately. They’re all precious to me, so thank you for every one of your drawings!

We are Legion,

Scott Sonnon


Share your story, help elevate the Dyslexia Conversation



Recently, CNN iReport asked for families stories about what it is like to raise a child with special needs.  DDVA thought this might be a nice opportunity to highlight the current stories that have been shared regarding dyslexia.  Each story you will find has threads of similarities and yet each journey is unique to that family.  We encourage you to take a few minutes to post your story to CNN and help elevate the national discussion on dyslexia.

Follow this link to find out how to post your story:

We will keep an eye out or feel free to let us know when you post and we will add your story here!!!

Dyslexia stories that have already been posted to CNN’s iReport.










Graduate Shout Out Details



Proud of your graduate?  So are we!!!


Want to give a shout out to your graduate??

Each night in June, that we have participants, DDVA will Shout Out your message of congrats!!

Here are the details!

What & When: Posts will go up on our Decoding Dyslexia VA FaceBook page each night at 7 p.m.

Who:  Our community of graduates.  High school, college, tech, middle school, elementary school, tutoring program, etc., if they are graduating we want to help celebrate!!

What we need:

Photo of your gradate. (By sending us your photo you are giving DDVA permission to use that photo for this campaign, we will not use the photo for any other purposes.)

First name, Last Name (optional)

Name of School and town in VA.  (Not in VA??? Ck with your state Decoding Dyslexia chapter here to see if they are hosting this campaign, if not we will gladly include your Shout Out!)

Your personal message of congrats!  Sample message:  “We are so proud of you! Love Mom and Dad”

Please send your info to:


Sample template:


IDA offer for Decoding Dyslexia Families

We at Decoding Dyslexia have recently received a letter from IDA President Hal Malchow and we wanted to be able to share with all of you!


 ida blog.jpg

Dear Decoding Dyslexia Supporters,

At the International Dyslexia Association we are excited about the Decoding Dyslexia movement. Your engagement and activism is helping all of us accomplish more in the cause we share. Over the last few months I have had the privilege of meeting with a group of Decoding Dyslexia members in Virginia and Maryland to hear your concerns and shape a better IDA parent program.
To say thank you, IDA is offering to all Decoding Dyslexia members a free trial parent membership in IDA. All parents who sign up for the free trial membership will receive “Pushing Back: What to Say When Your School Gets It Wrong.” This document, which arose from the stories of Decoding Dyslexia parents, helps you set the record straight when your school is not complying with the law or recommending the wrong strategies for your child.
In addition to receiving this document, IDA membership gives you access to a number of publications.
Dyslexia Connection: This monthly electronic newsletter for parents focuses on public school advocacy and other issues facing parents with children who have dyslexia and related learning disabilities.

  • The Examiner: IDA’s monthly e-newsletter will keep you abreast of happenings at IDA and on dyslexia and literacy-related events around the world.
  • Perspectives: IDA’s quarterly, full-color publication, Perspectives on Language and Literacy discusses educational best practices, curriculum methods, case studies and first-person application of multi-sensory structured language teaching techniques.
  • Annals: IDA’s tri-annual Annals of Dyslexia is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the scientific study of dyslexia and related language disabilities.
  • Reading and Writing: Reading and Writing is an interdisciplinary journal containing articles on the processes, acquisition, and loss of reading and writing skills.

Your IDA membership will also connect you with the IDA Branch closest to your home and you will receive local information, access to workshops and events and full membership in the branch. You will gain access to IDA’s listing of professional service providers in your area.
All this for free. And at the end of August, if you want to continue your parent membership the fee is only $45 per year. So try us out.
Unlike past IDA presidents, I came to IDA, not as a professional but as a parent like you. Beyond my own experience, I have learned so much from my conversations with Decoding Dyslexia parents and these conversations have made me even more determination to bring better reading instruction into America’s classrooms. I also know that we need a stronger voice Decoding Dyslexia inside IDA.
Thank you for all you are doing for the cause we share. I hope that your membership will help us do even more to serve all students with dyslexia.
Hal Malchow
IDA President
PS We are also surveying parents and teachers about assistive technologies. You will be able to participate in these surveys and view the results.

For your Free four month IDA membership follow this link:

Raising Dyslexia Awareness

Raising Dyslexia Awareness

We have an ask and this is an easy one. A quick click of the mouse just once and your vote for our DDVA blog helsp keep it in the top ten list of LD blogs hosted by SkinnyScoop.


Please follow this link or click on the image and cast your vote for our Decoding Dyslexia VA Blog as resource for Dyslexia.


Then, if you are moved to go ahead share the request with you friends and family.

We thank each and everyone of you and truly appreciate your continued support in raising dyslexia awareness and speaking up for our dyslexic children.

DDVA Families

Summer is coming!

summer programs.jpg

We invite our supporting organizations to send us their summer time programs, camps, workshops, sessions, etc.  DDVA will work to put together a resource for Virginia families looking for opportunities for summer activities enrollment.

Please submit program details to now through March 30, 2014.

Decoding Dyslexia VA hosts First Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day at the Capital!



Hello VA,

Below you will find our agenda for the events of February 4th!  We will continue to update you as we receive additional information.  We look forward to gathering together to raise dyslexia awareness and let policy makers hear our concerns.

Where:  Richmond, VA

7th Floor West Conference Room General Assembly Building.

When:  9:30-11:00am Reception

  • Light refreshments to be served
  • Short presentation:  Decoding Dyslexia VA: Parents United
  • Speaker: Ben Pasternak, DDVA Parent

Parents, educators, specialists and policy makers please join us as Decoding Dyslexia VA hosts our First Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day at the Capital!

Learn more about:

  • Decoding Dyslexia VA – Our history and plans for the future
  • What is Dyslexia? – Who does it impact and what can be done
  • How positive change will benefit our children, our schools and our state.

Following the reception, opportunities for Gallery seats to observe the State Session, as well as Capital tours may be available.  This opportunity is dependent on RSVP’s and is subject to change with no advanced notice.

We encourage families and individuals who join us on the 4th to reach out to your representatives.  Invite them to the reception or schedule to meet with a member of their staff some time during the day.  DDVA members will be available to join the conversations or offer talking points if needed.

Update: Please our Event Brite Link for additional information and the opportunity to RSVP.

For Immediate Release


Rebecca Worth Warner

Decoding Dyslexia VA Co- Founder

Richmond, VA


Decoding Dyslexia VA to Raise Awareness and Concerns

At the Capital on Feb. 4, 2014


Richmond, VA – Jan. 14, 2014 – Decoding Dyslexia VA, with the support of Delegate Kaye Kory, 38th district, will be hosting a Dyslexia Awareness Day at the state capital on Feb. 4, 2014.

In addition to the House, Senator Jill Vogel, District 37, has offered continued support and guidance for the parent run group.

The event is open to the public and is expected to draw a large contingency of passionate parents and specialists. DDVA encourages families, educators and policy makers to attend to learn more about dyslexia, the impact on our children and on Virginia’s schools. More importantly learn about solutions that 30 years of research has provided to address this valued community that has long been misunderstood.

The Dyslexic community is estimated at 1 in 5, easily 20% of Virginia’s population.  The consequences of ignoring the needs of this community will have an escalating impact on the state’s literacy rate, drop-rate and workforce.  Sadly each one of these directly correlates to our incarceration rates.

Reading Difficulties, Including Dyslexia, Are Very Common*      

Reading difficulties are the most common cause of academic failure and underachievement. Learning to read and write is not natural or easy for many—if not most—students, especially those with dyslexia and related language problems. The National Assessment of Educational Progress consistently finds that about 36% of all fourth graders read at a level described as “below basic.”


Between 15 and 20% of young students are doomed to academic failure because of reading and language processing weaknesses, unless those weaknesses are recognized early and treated skillfully. Another 20–30% is at risk for inadequate reading and writing development, depending on how—and how well—they are taught. Most of these at‐risk students are ineligible for special education services and are dependent on the instruction given in the regular classroom or other supplementary services.


However, of those students who are referred to special education services in public schools, approximately 85% are having severe difficulties with language, reading, and writing. Clearly, responsibility for teaching reading and writing must be shared by classroom teachers, reading specialists, and special education personnel.


There is known research-based instruction that can successfully lessen the impact of dyslexia and help students to overcome its more debilitating symptoms. Analyses of teacher licensing tests show that typically, very few are aligned with current research on effective instruction for students at risk.

Decoding Dyslexia is a parent-based grassroots movement which started two years ago in New Jersey, and has spread rapidly to include 44 of the 50 U.S. states.  Virginia’s chapter was founded a little over a year ago. The group’s primary objectives are to see the state implement:

  • Increase awareness among educators and families with regard to warning signs
  • Teacher/staff training on dyslexia, its warning signs and appropriate intervention strategies
  • Early screening tests for dyslexia to include parental notification
  • Evidenced-based dyslexia remediation programs implemented with fidelity which can be accessed by both general and special education populations
  • Access to appropriate “assistive technologies” in the public school setting for students with dyslexia


About Dyslexia**

Dyslexia affects up to 1 in 5 people, but the experience of dyslexia isn’t always the same. This difficulty in processing language exists along a spectrum — one that doesn’t necessarily fit with labels like “normal” and “defective.” Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed. D., urges us to think again about dyslexic brain function and to celebrate the neurodiversity of the human brain.



See Kelli Sandman-Hurley’s TED-Ed Original featuring her words and ideas brought to life by professional animators:


*The International Dyslexia Association, Promoting Literacy Through Research Education and Advocacy ( )

**Ted Ed Lessons Worth Sharing:

Faces of Dyslexia in Virginia

Decoding Dyslexia VA (DDVA) is currently working on a project  entitled “Faces of Dyslexia in Virginia”.   The project was originally envisioned to help personalize our stories when we meet with lawmakers, but it could be used for any type of dyslexia awareness a family might be engaged in.  It is intended to be a quick read that shows the strengths of our kids as well as their struggles. In the picture below, you will find an example story of one of our members. Although her picture will be shown in the book, for the purpose of this  post a self-portrait has been chosen.
If you would like to participate,  please use the link below, to insert a picture of your child and a paragraph telling their story. Parents have offered the opportunity to their kids to write/dictate anything they wish or guided them with questions to encourage expression. Please note: your submission must be able to fit in this one page  format.

Your Child’s Page

UPDATES:  Having trouble opening the link to  “Your Child’s Page”? No worries! The link simply provides a template as a guide.  It models that a portion of your page will highlight your picture while the  other portion is for your paragraph. This template gives you the star border you  see posted on our FB/Blog example. You may submit your page with your own choice  of border or simply not use a border at all. The most important thing is that  your page comes to us in a ONE PAGE format. Remember, there is no age limit to  this project…we would love all submissions!
Submissions and questions regarding this project can be sent to

Thank you!
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