According to the latest dyslexia research from the National Institutes of Health, dyslexia affects 20 percent of Americans. That’s one out of every five children.
The growing spotlight on dyslexia is starting to spark a discussion about how reading and spelling are taught to all students. A local woman is helping students with this learning difference.
Karin Merkle, from Rapid City Dyslexia Care, started out as a certified teacher, in a classroom setting. When she learned a very effective way of teaching reading and spelling to students with dyslexia. She began teaching students privately and doing that for about 10 years now. She studied under the Susan Barton Reading and Spelling System. She says dyslexia is the most common reason an intelligent child will struggle with spelling, writing, or reading.
Merkle says, “There is a huge need because there is a huge population out there that has dyslexia and once I saw the fantastic success that the students could have, that made me passionate about it because I was determined to bring back the self-confidence. And students, I think, half of that is just letting them know that their struggles actually have a reason and it doesn’t mean that their brain is less smart – they are perfectly smart, their brains are just wired (differently). They process information a little differently and there is a solution for that.”
Someone with dyslexia sees the letters in words out of order, like mistaking was for saw. They must learn how to decode words and word parts, once a person conquers that ability, then the comprehension kicks in- making reading and writing more understandable.
Lydia Schwiesow, a 6th grader at Southwest Middle School, meets twice a week with Karin for tutoring. Once she was diagnosed with dyslexia, things really turned around for her.
Schwiesow says, “Because I can really tell that my scores from like when we do a reading test, that my scores are improving a lot so I really like that … all my teachers are all supportive and stuff …t if I need to have help, they will help me hundred percent.”
Karin also screens for dyslexia, some difficulty signs in younger children may include- late to talk, switching around syllables like in the word spaghetti, ear infections, trouble to tie shoes, sometimes stuttering. But those with dyslexia also have great imaginations, good people skills and talented at building or creating. She also teaches parents how to help their own children learn more effectively. Her passion is changing many students lives and the way they navigate the world.
“It gives me joy to see students succeed when they had tried so many different methods before and tried so hard with no success, so it just gives me happiness,” says Merkle.
Karin is currently writing a book to help teachers navigate dyslexia.
Karin and her team of tutors teach many Black Hills students, but also teach remotely so that we can reach students across South Dakota and across the country (MN, VA, ND, TX, ID, WA…).