The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan

by Ben Foss 

I've worked in the field of learning disabilities education for fourteen years, and this is the first book I've read on dyslexia that provides a roadmap for parents to help empower their children. It is the book I wish I had copies to give to every parent who walks through my door, who has recently learned that their child is dyslexic or that their school is failing them. While components like research, science, and stories of success are woven throughout the book, Foss' main objective is to help parents build a plan for their child, which includes identifying strengths, navigating the school system and legal rights, how to integrate accommodations, including assistive technologies, and, perhaps most importantly, how to talk with their child about their dyslexia. Why is this so meaningful? Most texts on dyslexia provide background; this book provides a path. It's the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" for the parent of a dyslexic child, and it's accurate, meaningful, and sincere because Foss himself was identified with dyslexia at age eight.

Dyslexia is a hidden disability, not just because it can't be seen, but also because many dyslexics, including the author for many years of his life, try to hide it. Embarrassment, shame, guilt, and stigma are all components of why people hide their learning disability. Foss provides great stories, analogies, and actionable steps that steer people away from looking at dyslexia as a disease. As Foss says, "there is no cure because there is no disease." Tools, like the strength profiles map, allow parents, and dyslexics themselves, to begin building a plan for how to leverage their strengths and create an environment in which they will be succesful. There are also form letters and templates, like those to help parents navigate the IEP and legal processes, and numerous resources, both in the book and referenced on the web, that will help parents and their children immediately.

There are several great books on dyslexia, but if you are a parent of a child identified with a learning disability, or you even think s/he may have a learning disability, this is THE FIRST book I would recommend reading. Foss teaches dyslexics how to integrate their dyslexia, which is the most important component of all.

Ben Powers
Headmaster, Eagle Hill-Southport