Earlier this week I was in a zoom meeting with a clever, outgoing, French scientist. The conversation trip-trapped around to this topic of shared interest, then that… and somewhere in the midst he told me that he has dyslexia. Then completely matter-of-factly, he said:

“I went and saw a speech therapist to learn to read and write… obviously.”

I was amazed.

Not that a speech pathologist taught him to read and write. I’m acquainted with this.

It was his phrasing that amazed me.

“Obviously” he said, “[it was] a speech therapist [that taught him] to read and write.”

It’s actually not obvious to everyone. How was it so obvious to him?

I expressed my amazement at his casually given statement. He went on to tell me that in France, it is well known that speech therapists are the professionals with the tools to analyse and respond to difficult problems with learning to read. Because their training is in analysing language and the sound system of language.

In the French language, the name of the speech pathology profession is logopède. It means ‘someone who works with words’. So, to the French it is much less surprising that a child with a reading problem would visit a ‘speech pathologist’. Because they know they are visiting a ‘word professional’. And after all, what they need help with… are words.

In our own country, speech pathologists are also ‘word professionals’. It doesn’t matter which medium the words are in. They can be in the auditory medium – spoken language. Or in the visual medium – written language.

But it is not yet as well-known as it “obviously” is in France, that the profession of speech pathology uses tools that can be applied with excellence to reading problems; is built on a scientific foundation; and that these tools and training make it possible to analyse what’s going on within a dyslexic person’s perception and processing of language and speech.

My new French friend was aware of this. He said “I don’t think Australians really know yet that speech pathologists are so good at helping kids with dyslexia.”

Speech pathologists have an agenda about this.

They are working to build Australians’ awareness of the professional and evidence-based approaches they bring to supporting written language development.

And they are connecting collaboratively and powerfully with educators to share and build the knowledges of the two professions. Both of these dynamo professions are structured entirely around care for the development of others. When they combine, the whole is more than the sum of the parts. One senses power, joy, and freedom! This is the natural outcome of excellent collaboration.

I can see the day coming over the horizon when I will hear a clever, outgoing, young Australian with dyslexia say “Together my teachers and speech therapist taught me to read and write… obviously.”

#100PercentLiteracy #EveryChildAReader #EveryTasmanianAReader