Monday, April 26, 2010

Louisiana eighth grader does research project on her own learning disability

From The Shreveport Times in Louisiana:

An eighth-grader's study of a learning disability that affects her and up to 20 percent of people in the world earned her a trip to the state social studies fair in Baton Rouge next week.

Mary Morgan Anglin (pictured), 14, decided more than a year ago to study dyslexia. She knew early on that she processed information differently from others, but she wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until nearly fifth grade.

Although her project is in social studies, she focused on scientific facts about dyslexia. She also balanced research with her experiences.

"I wanted to make it really personal, but I didn't want it to be 'Oh, pity the poor dyslexic girl who overcame it,'" she said.

Dyslexia causes problems with language skills, especially reading. People may have trouble with spelling, word recognition and providing information gained through reading, such as answering comprehension questions on a test.

"They call it the mother of all learning differences," Mary Morgan said.

Her mom, Leann Anglin, helped Mary Morgan remember spelling words in elementary school by making up cheerleader moves for each letter in a word. These days, Mary Morgan makes up songs and dances to learn new information.

"For my husband, Mike, and me it was always best for us to listen to Mary Morgan and allow her to tell us the best way for her to learn, even at a very early age," Anglin said.

They also encouraged her strengths, including a flair for drama and performance. Mary Morgan said she has no trouble reading and remembering scripts, possibly because of the format and movement involved in acting.

While in elementary school, she participated in a tutoring program that helps students who learn differently. First Baptist Church School in Shreveport offers a similar program called Discovery Lab.

Students skip enrichment classes and go through an intensive phonics program one to five times a week during the school day in the Discovery Lab program. It costs extra but provides certified language therapists, said Kari Turner, First Baptist development director.

"The program was founded more than 10 years ago to help remediate students with dyslexia or other language differences," Turner said.