Tools to help students with dyslexia

Written by emallers on February 16th, 2018

Ideas for legislation come from a variety of sources. Sometimes, a lawmaker learns of an issue and works to find a solution, while other times communities reach out needing help from the General Assembly to provide support to accomplish different goals. Many of the best and most impactful laws are the ones inspired by Hoosiers.

Several years ago, I was approached at the county fair by Cheryl from our community, asking if I was familiar with dyslexia. Not knowing much about the learning disability at the time, I said no. Cheryl introduced me to her son, Josh, who has dyslexia and faced difficulties with schoolwork because he learns differently. After that conversation, I was motivated to find a way to ensure kids like Josh are able to receive a well-rounded education like other students.

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 am also dyslexic.

In 2015, I authored a law providing resources for teachers to better identify students with dyslexia. Under this law, teachers have a clear definition of dyslexia and receive training on how to identify early signs of this learning disability in their students.

When then-Gov. Mike Pence signed this legislation into law, more than 100 students, parents and educators came to the Statehouse to show support. I was amazed at the number of children who shared with me they thought they were stupid, when in reality, they just learn differently. That legislation was a small step in helping students find success in school.

To build on that law, I am sponsoring legislation that would require schools and the Department of Education to take extra steps to further ensure every student who has dyslexia is identified and receives the needed additional help and resources to better address their educational needs. Under this proposal, students in kindergarten through second grade would be screened for signs of dyslexia. Additionally, an educator who specializes in dyslexia would be available to each school corporation in the state to address unique cases. Early detection of dyslexia is vital to getting students on a successful learning path.

Dyslexia is an issue I am particularly passionate about, and I will continue to raise awareness for this learning disability and stress the importance of recognizing it in Hoosier students. To follow the progress of this bill and other important legislation, visit As always, if there is anything I can do for you or your family, please contact me at or 317-232-9648.


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