A new parent group is forming in Charles County to provide resources and support the caretakers of children with dyslexia and related conditions.
Parent Tracy Wolff is one of the co-founders of Decoding Dyslexia Charles County, a local chapter of Decoding Dyslexia Maryland.
Wolff said she and co-founder Maureen Mears had attended meetings of Decoding Dyslexia Southern Maryland, which meets in St. Mary’s County.
“It’s a bit of a hike for Charles County residents,” Mears said.
The two decided to form a Charles County group in March to meet the needs of local parents.
According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is believed to be neurobiological in origin, and is characterized by difficulties in word recognition, spelling and word decoding at odds with other cognitive abilities. Dyslexia can result in problems with reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede development of vocabulary and background knowledge.
Dyslexia often runs in families, and the International Dyslexia Association estimates that approximately 15 to 20 percent of the population as a whole have at least some of the symptoms of dyslexia.
Mears said there are a lot of misconceptions about dyslexia.
“There’s a perception that it’s a vision disorder, but it’s not; it’s a language processing disorder,” Mears said.
Wolff said another misconception is that dyslexia is due to laziness.
“You also hear that they’re not trying hard enough, they’re not working hard enough,” Wolff said.
Other, related learning disorders include dyscalculia, which is a difficulty in mathematics, and dysgraphia, which is a difficulty in writing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wolff, who homeschools her daughter, said it is important to educate the public and teachers about dyslexia, which can take a variety of forms.
“Every child’s different, and their needs are different,” Wolff said.
Mears said it is also important to have a group that can provide information and support to other parents.
“It gives an avenue to hear and learn from each others’ experiences,” Mears said. “It’s not just a single voice, but a collective voice, so that we could work together to have the best possible outcomes.”
The group does not yet have its own website, Wolff said, but does have a Facebook page under “Decoding Dyslexia MD – Charles.”
Decoding Dyslexia Charles County will hold its next meeting 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 3 at the La Plata Branch Library, 2 Garrett Ave., La Plata.