Larissa Whalen Garfias, PA-C
I became interested in dyslexia when my 5th-grade son was diagnosed in 2017. I realized that I knew very little about dyslexia despite working in primary care. Through that experience, I learned first-hand the challenges that face children, parents, and educators when identifying and supporting kids with dyslexia.
I also began to see how the secondary consequences of reading disabilities such as dyslexia were affecting my patients. Working at Virginia Garcia with families served in the Federally Qualified Health Center, I immediately saw the need to advocate within my organization for sweeping changes to better identify children with reading disabilities and promote dyslexia awareness among my colleagues.
I believe that we as a medical system could do far better in identifying dyslexia, advocating for individual and system-wide change, and letting our patients know that they are not alone – just as we have done for autism, ADHD, substance use and depression. It is a failure on our part to treat a 15-year-old boy who is failing school for depression and suicidal ideation when we could have intervened at age 6 or 7 to identify dyslexia and provide the support he needed. As part of this effort, we are partnering with members of the IDA-Oregon Branch to create low-literacy Spanish language materials – materials that are severely lacking throughout the country.