Standing up for children with dyslexia

Written by woody on February 28th, 2020

Lawmakers find inspiration for legislation in several ways. In many cases, we learn of an issue and work to find a solution after constituents reach out in need of support. An issue I am passionate about is supporting Hoosiers with dyslexia. My dedication for students and others with dyslexia started because of a community member, Cheryl, and her son, Josh.

A few years ago, I was at the county fair when Cheryl approached me and asked if I was familiar with dyslexia. She explained that while Josh may look like his classmates, he doesn’t learn the same way because he has dyslexia and faced challenges at school due to this learning disability.

Because Cheryl reached out to me about an issue she saw in our community and state, I was able to help.

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that can affect an individual’s ability to read, write, spell and pronounce words. It can occur in people of all backgrounds and is unrelated to intelligence. Dyslexia does not hinder a student’s ability to think or be creative. In the U.S., 1 in 5 people are dyslexic to some degree, and after speaking with Cheryl and her son, I now know I also have dyslexia.

The conversation I had with Cheryl became the backbone for a law I authored in 2015 defining dyslexia and ensuring aspiring teachers to know the signs of it so they can support these students and not let them fall behind their peers.

Then, I met Erin, who shared that before she was identified with dyslexia, she had low self-esteem and thought she wasn’t smart. When Erin first came to the Statehouse to testify in a committee hearing, she was afraid to talk, but she wrote her story on a poster board for everyone to read. Even though Erin wasn’t confident in her speaking abilities, she knew it was important for lawmakers to know her experiences.

During a committee meeting in 2018, I shared Erin’s story. I did not know it at the time, but she and her mother were watching in the gallery. Later, Erin told me she was moved by how her story had a lasting impact on the General Assembly. Erin has become an advocate for Hoosiers with dyslexia. She knows she learns differently, and that’s okay.

I sponsored another law in 2018 to ensure students in kindergarten through second grade are screened for this learning disability. This year, I am working on a proposal that would provide accommodations on statewide exams like ILEARN to students with individual education plans related to reading. Identifying dyslexia and providing appropriate accommodations can go a long way in setting these students up for success.

I will continue to stand up for equitable education in the classroom for students with dyslexia who experience unique challenges when it comes to learning, but still have the same potential to be successful.

This is an issue near and dear to my heart. Visit to learn more, including the signs of the learning disorder and how you can help those who have it. If you or someone you know struggles with a learning disability like dyslexia and needs help getting assistance, please contact me at 317-234-9447 or



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