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Dyslexia & Learning Disabilities – Which Awareness Month is it?

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 2:21 p.m.

In addition to October being Learning Disabilities Awareness Month and ADHD Awareness Month, the Alberta Ministry of Education has declared that October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. This may cause some confusion, because is it not the case that dyslexia is a Learning Disability?

The International Dyslexia Association acknowledges that ‘dyslexia is a language-based Learning Disability’, whilst professionals in other fields have sometimes blanketed reading disabilities to be synonymous with dyslexia. Regardless of the semantics or definition, individuals diagnosed with dyslexia, language-based Learning Disabilities, or reading disabilities, all deserve to be afforded the opportunity in school to reach their true potential. 

We know that students with diagnoses of language-based learning disabilities, or dyslexia, have difficulties particularly with reading, and also with skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. As with all Learning Disabilities, the diagnosis is not related to intelligence, and most students require support and intervention to be successful at school.  To read more about dyslexia basics from the International Dyslexia Association, click here.

Put simply, dyslexia is the most common Learning Disability or Specific Learning Disorder, affecting about 80% of individuals with a Learning Disability (LD) diagnosis. When psychologists diagnose Specific Learning Disorders using the DSM-5 criteria, specific subsets are identified with terms such as dyslexia or dyscalculia.  Grouped together, they are Learning Disabilities or Specific Learning Disorders. In other words, dyslexia is a Learning Disability but not all Learning Disabilities are dyslexia.

Why Foothills Academy Typically Uses Learning Disabilities and Not Dyslexia

At Foothills Academy, we focus on the term Learning Disabilities, to cover the wide range of LDs diagnosed in our population. We can then individualize the specific needs for each individual diagnosis, whether it be a reading disability, a language disability, a math disability, and so on…  Foothills Academy is a Designated Special Education Private School for children diagnosed with Learning Disabilities by psychologists conducting psycho-educational assessments; resulting in being given a Special Education Code 54 by Alberta Education.

It’s important for us to ensure we continue to support all students and families living with all Learning Disabilities. We need to keep advocating for our students, especially during this month of October. Whether it is Learning Disabilities and ADHD Awareness Month, or Dyslexia Awareness Month, the message is the same: Our students need the support of parents, school, community and government, to ensure that they all maximize their potential. 

To learn more about Learning Disabilities and dyslexia, Foothills Academy has prepared some articles and online courses for both parents/guardians and for educators.

Resources for Parents, Guardians and Families

1. Inside Learning Disabilities for Families

This online course has been designed to increase your knowledge and understanding of Learning Disabilities (including dyslexia). You will learn how LD can impact a child’s academics, behaviour, and well-being. You will learn about evidence-based strategies and tools to build your knowledge, skills and abilities which will increase your child’s success. It is available whenever it is convenient for you to go through on your own time. Enrollment is ongoing.

2. Learning Disabilities: What Parents Need to Know

Within this document is a good explanation about the identification of a Learning Disability or Specific Learning Disorder within Alberta.

Resources for Educators from Foothills Academy

1. Inside LD for Educators Online Course 

This online course has been designed specifically for educators to increase their knowledge and understanding of Learning Disabilities (including dyslexia), how they present in the classroom and strategies that they can use to help students be successful. Enrollment is ongoing.

2. Inside LD for Educators:

Within this document is a good explanation about the identification of a Learning Disability or Specific Learning Disorder and strategies that can help students be successful.

For Parents/Guardians, Adults with LD & ADHD and Educators

LD & ADHD Network (Calgary Region) 

You can also learn more about Learning Disabilities generally and dyslexia specifically on the new LD & ADHD Network website. The Learning Disabilities and ADHD Network (Calgary Region) is a collaborative of a broad group of organizations, which is operated through Foothills Academy Society. On the website, you will find lots of information and resources for parents, adults, educators and other professionals in Alberta about Learning Disabilities and ADHD.

  • Specific Disorders in Reading - This page gives you more information about dyslexia and its definitions
  • LD Definitions: In this section, you can read about the different definitions of Learning Disabilities that are commonly used by psychologists in Alberta right now. 

Videos about Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities

For those who like to take in information more visually, here are a few videos that help explain dyslexia and Learning Disabilities further.

What Is Dyslexia? | Dyslexia Explained from Understood.org

Common Learning Disabilities - featuring Dr. Andrea Huebner, pediatric neuropsychologist at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center

See dyslexia differently - from the British Dyslexia Association this is a great video to share with children to help them understand their dyslexia