Unspoken disorder affecting one in 10

RAISING AWARNESS: Milla Franklin (7), Ava Franklin (9), Milla Shay (9) and Lily Franklin (10) at today's Walk for Dyslexia.
RAISING AWARNESS: Milla Franklin (7), Ava Franklin (9), Milla Shay (9) and Lily Franklin (10) at today's Walk for Dyslexia.

It is a neurological disorder which could affect 10 per cent of Australians – yet many still don’t take dyslexia of the life-long impacts it can have seriously. 

That’s according to Goornong teachers aid Christine Carty, who organised the third Walk for Dyslexia in Strathdale today. 

“There needs to be a lot of awareness raised about dyslexia and a lot of mythology around it that needs to be dispelled,” Ms Carty said. 

“Dyslexia is not an ‘airy fairy’ thing – it is real and it has nothing to do with levels of intelligence.”  

Ms Carty, whose husband and two or three sons have dyslexia, said the disorder interferes with the acquisition and processing of language, primarily affecting the fluent use of words.

“So more needs to be done to support children with dyslexia in schools, there needs to be more teacher education, standardised testing and more funding,” she said. 

“It’s estimated that one in 10 people have dyslexia, so that could be about two to three students in every class.”

But Ms Carty said many more students go undiagnosed.

“The kids know they’re struggling in school, the families know the kids are struggling but even if they do get diagnosed – which could be $1000 – there’s no guarantee that the school will be able to do anything to help them with their education,” she said. 

And she said that dyslexia was not just something which affected young people.

“Just recently I had a phone call from a mother in her 60s who was in tears because her 30 year old son was struggling,” she said. 

”There’s still a lot of shame in the  adult world about dyslexia, and reluctance to admit to it or talk about it.”

Dyslexia drove Ms Carty’s children out of the traditional school stream, with her eldest child, 17-year-old Nathan, doing distance education for an advanced certificate in zoo keeping instead.

“He absolutely loves it,” she said.

“And I want him to follow his passion and have the career in what he loves doing.”

Another young person who has overcome dyslexia to follow her passion is Castlemaine’s Marla Neal, who spoke at today’s event. 

“Going through primary school I wasn’t diagnosed, and I just felt dumb compared to every one else,” she said.  

“When I got home and I got angry and felt frustrated and I didn’t know why.” 

Now on the verge of graduating high school, Ms Neal is hoping to be accepted to take an environmental tour guide course in Tasmania.

“I’ve always been a very hands on person, and I love being outdoors, kayaking, climbing, hiking and adventuring.”