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If you go
What: Free dyslexia symposium
When: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza
Information: The event is designed to encourage people to learn more about dyslexia and will include several speakers and hands-on activities.
Learn about the symptoms of dyslexia, how to test your child and find out about resources and support available for children and teens with dyslexia. For more information, email Scott Forsythe at dyslexic.kids@gmail.com or go to dyslexickids.net.
Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Scott Forsythe of Huntington is the 16-year-old founder of Dyslexic Kids, which helps children and teens find resources and support.

Fresh approach for dyslexics

Huntington teen forms group, sites to help kids

A colored transparent ruler helps dyslexics focus line by line, making it easier to see letters correctly and follow words in the right direction.

As a child, Scott Forsythe knew the words on the page weren’t lining up the way they should.

When he stared at a page of text, the white background created wavy lines down the page, distracting him from the words.

When he read across the page, the letters twisted and turned, creating strange characters.

And when he grabbed his favorite “Transformers” book and sat down to read it without help, it often ended in frustration and tears.

In school, Forsythe, from Huntington, was bullied and teased as he struggled with reading, spelling and writing.

“I was an outcast,” said Forsythe, now 16. “I spent a lot of time alone.”

Forsythe’s family knew what to watch for – the same struggles that his father, John Forsythe, dealt with growing up and the same challenges that Scott’s younger sister, Alex Forsythe, would someday face.

Eventually, his ailment was diagnosed. Dyslexia. It came as no surprise, Scott Forsythe said.

His parents worked with him, finding doctors and taking suggestions from specialists to try to help their son learn to read proficiently.

His mother, Cheryl Forsythe, would run the ideas by his father, who would test the theories based on his own dyslexia and weed out the helpful suggestions from those that didn’t work.

With time, Scott Forsythe discovered that using a colored transparent ruler to read text line by line helped him focus.

And after much practice, he began to overcome his struggle with dyslexia.

Forsythe began looking for a support group, hoping to find children like him who struggled with reading and writing.

He found groups for parents and teachers. He found research and studies on how to help children with dyslexia. He found everything except the group he desired most – people just like him.

“There were none. All the groups were for the adults, not for the people who needed it most: the children and teens who were struggling with dyslexia,” he said.

So he started his own.

In 2011, Forsythe launched an organization called Dyslexic Kids, designed to help youth with dyslexia find access to resources and support.

It all started online at DyslexicKids.net with games to practice reading skills, a blog to talk about experiences and information specifically for kids.

Over time, Forsythe added social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter to help keep his followers connected. Today, he has more than 5,300 followers on Facebook and 1,300 on Twitter, with more being added each day, he said.

In the fall of 2011, Forsythe began a mentoring and tutoring program at the downtown Allen County Public Library. The monthly Dyslexic Kids Support Group meets from 6 to 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month.

During the meetings, the students talk about their challenges – and about their success stories.

“Sometimes it’s just me, my sister and one other person,” Forsythe said. “Other times, there’s a good-sized group of us.”

Re-imagining reading

As Forsythe talked with others in the support group, they came up with a checklist for dyslexic-friendly books.

No stark white pages with black text, they decided. They’re too hard to read. Colored backgrounds make the letters pop off the page more easily.

No fonts with serif lines, no fonts with strange-looking A’s and G’s. They wanted letters that look the way students are taught to write.

No big blocks of text for young learners. Text is easier to read when sentences have some space to breathe, they agreed.

No busy backgrounds or overwhelming illustrations. Just a clean, simple, consistent design, they added.

Forsythe decided their checklist called for a special list, one that would point students with dyslexia in the right direction before they grew frustrated with reading.

As part of an Eagle Scout project, Forsythe and his friends went shelf by shelf through the children’s section at the main Allen County Public Library, pulling out each book and checking their requirements before adding it to the list.

The reading list includes 139 books, and a copy is available at the library, he said.

Kris Lill, a children’s librarian, said Forsythe’s project has been a benefit not only to students struggling with dyslexia, but for all students.

“He’s done such a service because it’s something we’ve never been able to offer before,” Lill said.

jcrothers@jg.net

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