Published by the Austin Area Branch of The International Dyslexia Association

Founded in Memory of Samuel T. Orton

"Dedicated to the study and treatment of individuals with specific language disability"

Taken from: Fall 2003 Edition       (512) 452-7658   

The International Dyslexia Association neither recommends nor endorses any specific speaker, school, institution, instructional program or material.

The International Dyslexia Association supports the efforts to provide dyslexic individuals with appropriate instruction and to identify these individuals at an early age.    The Association believes that teaching and learning is the best approach currently available for those affected by dyslexia.  The Association, however, does not endorse any specific program, speaker, or instructional materials, noting that there are a number of such which present the critical components of instruction as defined by the Task Force on Multisensory Teaching which works under the guidance of the The Association’s Teacher Education Issues Committee.

Click here to view Spring 2003 Newsletter


Bridges to Practice & Dyslexia Awareness Training

Let’s get ready for School!

Priscilla Vail - In Memoriam

Dyslexia Awareness Month

A.A.B.I.D.A. Outreach Committee Presents in San Antonio's Edgewood I.S.D. 

A.A.B.I.D.A. Outreach Committee Helps Set-Up Parent Support Group in Granger

“Make Learning Bearable” - AABIDA’s Annual Conference


RFB&D and AABIDA Open House

2004 AABIDA Board


“Bridges to Practice” & Dyslexia Awareness Training

Sponsored by: AABIDA, Austin Community College, NIFL, and the San Marcos Civic Foundation

Friday, Oct. 10, Friday, Oct. 17, & Friday Oct. 24, 2003; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Sign in at 8:30 a.m.!)

3401 Webberville Road, Building # 3000
Austin, TX 78702

For information, contact: Debbie Talavera, Adult Education Dept., ACC, (512) 223-7708 or 
Ann Palmer, Developmental Communications Dept., ACC, (512) 223-5172    

Click Here for Registration Form

Last Day of ACC Bridges to Practice Workshop is Open to All

Even though, the first two days of Bridges to Practice must be kept to 40 participants, AABIDA would like to underscore that the last day, Friday, October 24, will be open to all who register. Thus, the third Friday of the workshop will feature this information geared to working with the adult dyslexic:  assessment, advocacy skills, and components of programs which work in successfully remediating the adult dyslexic.

Participants will also to meet and talk with the presenters, Literacy Austin representatives, ACC staff and faculty, and AABIDA volunteers. If you wish to attend this final day, please send your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, place of work, work address to:  Ginny Garrison, 4501 View West, Austin, TX  78735.

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Let’s get ready for School!  A special time for special kids.

by Dan Willemin 

To begin this article I feel it important to start with an apology.  Not for the article itself, but an apology to my two sons.  I am sorry I did not research this sooner.  I am sorry I did not always know to do the things I am writing now…

We all assume it is most important to get our special kids ready for school, but in reality, parents and teachers are equally important.  Before I start on the Student area, I must make one point.  Every child is different, but even more diverse are those kids that are labeled, Dyslexic, ADHD, LD, and scores of other labels.  Diverse not only because they have areas of weakness, but without fail they also have some areas of great strength.  However, even those labeled only dyslexic will have different levels of strengths and weaknesses in different areas.  Discovering your child’s areas of strength are key in finding ways to keep the learning processes going and ensure success in school.  Teaching to their strengths is the best way for teachers to assure these students success.

Getting Students Ready

Even though vacation is almost over, we should still encourage our special kids to read.  However, any written material is good, even the lowly comic book can be a way to keep up interest in reading.  If video games are your child’s main interest, buy the game secrets books.  Kids will read to no end trying to defeat a game.  Children’s magazines and even those “teen idol” and fashion ones are good.  Sports, science, nature, or anything that interests your child will work!  At TV time, if possible, turn on the closed captioning; even with the sound on this can keep words in front of children’s eyes, every little bit helps.  Try turning the sound off during some shows and read the caption to/with your child.  

Before school starts, try to foster a good attitude about school.  Never let them know you dread the start of school even if you do more than they do.  Several weeks before school starts get back on school time schedule.  Bedtime, wake-up, and meal times that fit the school time schedule will help adjust the child early and make those first days easier.

The biggest struggle for most kids starting the new school year is getting and staying organized.  Start early getting school supplies and organizing them.  Get a spot setup for homework, a quiet place with proper lighting, and few distractions.  Make a supply box with extra pencils, pens, paper, a three-hole punch, and things like extra rulers, compasses, and a calculator.  A homemade one-page, six or nine week calendar is a good idea to mark project due dates and special test dates.  

Make sure that their main notebook (a zippered three ring binder) for school has two pockets for loose papers.  One pocket should be only for things going home for parents (and things returned from parents to school).  The other pocket is for any papers they get that they may not have time to organize at school.  Cut up and punch large colored folder covers to make subject dividers.  Color-code everything, using the same colored tab dividers to separate sub-sections for tests, homework, class notes, and such, under each subject.  If possible, get colored paper to make book covers so they match the subject colors in the notebooks.  Let your child pick the colors they think best match the subjects.  Just for fun get together some craft materials and have the student personalize their notebooks with their own art.  From the book “Learning Outside the Lines” by Jonathan Mooney and David Cole comes one of my favorite suggestions for sprucing up a note book; “Think spray adhesive and fake fur”.  The more unique the notebook the less likely it is to be lost and not return. 

Set a time for after school homework but the first and last part of that time should be for organization.  First off, students should punch and sort all loose papers and put them in the proper place in the notebook.  Then when completed all homework should be in it's proper place as well.  If you can help your child get into this habit, it will do wonders for their organization.  Nothing is more devastating for a dyslexic child than loosing their homework.  The wasted effort, the panic, confusion, the anxiety of the failed search, the reaction of the teacher, and the anticipated reaction of the parents, all can combine to make learning impossible for a time.  Before the child recovers, they are usually behind in class and then the cycle can start to feed on itself!

Another excellent way to save time and reduce confusion for students is by using color Post-itâ tabs.  The tabs are strong, removable, reusable, and come in assorted colors.  Use one color tab to mark the current chapter in textbooks, the start, and end of reading or study assignments can be other colors.  Using these tabs a student can easily flip open their books with out having to refer to page numbers, saving time and confusion in school and at home.   They also make great “hard to loose” bookmarks for reading books too.  

You should start these get ready activities with your child during what will become their normal homework time.  This way they will get in the habit of working at their desk or work area every day at a specific time. Let them do the work while you help and explain the setup as you go.

For students transitioning to middle school or high school, or when younger students change schools, it is also very important to help them learn their way around the new school.  Getting lost on the way to the next class or restroom is a sure way to cause frustration and embarrassment.  The results of getting lost and being late for a class can be devastating, and these stresses will always increase dyslexic symptoms.  I know from my own experience that stress and confusion can build to a point where learning is impossible.  For more information and transitioning articles from middle school up through College, via the Internet try:

Always try to communicate to your child that the only real failure is to not try.  Even if things do not go well, if they have made an effort and keep trying then they are not a failure.  This “keep trying” attitude can help foster resiliency, a trait that will serve them better in life than many things they learn in school.  Self-advocacy is another important skill that helps build healthy self-esteem and empowers the child when things do not go well.  Students need to be able to go to the teacher and ask for extra time or extra help when they do not understand.  They need to know that there is no shame in asking for their modifications!  Also always, make sure your child understands the WHY of class rules.  When students truly understand rules and why they are in place, they are much easier to follow.

Some “cause and effect” and “big picture” explanation of rules can go a long way to avoid behavioral problems.

Getting Yourself Ready (Parents)

Part of preparing your child for school is to prepare yourself.  Knowledge is power.  So, the more that you know, then the better off you are.  You need to understand the laws, and how they work.  You also need to know the how schools work.  You must know how standardized tests and scoring works.  Also, you need to know yourself.  

Many parents, like me, have our own demons and ghosts left over from our school days.  They produce very strong emotions that can hinder our relationships with teachers and schools.  However, even parents that breezed through school can have trouble with the emotional aspects of their child struggling in an education system not geared to teach the way these children learn.  Working on controlling your own emotions is extremely important when dealing with teachers, school officials, as well as your child.

Although the laws give our children special rights, parents must advocate for their child to guarantee they get an appropriate education.  For more information on the laws and advocacy, please go to the advocacy articles at  (  You can find everything from how schools view us and our children, “Learning problems; Who’s fault is it”, to writing non-emotional letters, “The art of Writing Letters”, to one of my favorites,  “Understanding Tests and Measurements”.  One must understand these test scores to identify a child’s strengths as usually only their weaknesses are the focus of school reports. 

Note: The Wright’s Law site has lots of information on legal actions against schools.  I want to make it clear that everyone looses when education dollars go for legal actions.  It is always best to work within the system if at all possible!

If possible, open the lines of communication with the teacher before school starts.  The more the teacher knows about a student’s strengths and weaknesses the better they will be able to teach a child.  Never assume the teacher knows of your child’s IEP or 504 plans.  You should contact each and provide copies of any IEP or modifications under 504.  A brief cover letter listing your child’s strengths, learning style and weakness can make all the difference.  Being brief and concise is critical as this is a very busy time for teachers, if it is too long to read, it will do no good.  A follow-up face-to-face or phone conference to discuss how the teacher plans to implement modifications is always a good idea.

Teachers generally want students to succeed.  They can never know your child as well as you do in a non-school setting, just as you can never know how your child reacts to the school setting as well as the teacher.  Liking or disliking the teacher is irrelevant!  You must collaborate with them for the sake of your child.  You should always provide the teacher contact information and make it clear you want notification of the first sign of problems.  Never go over a teacher’s head, go to them first and always include them in any correspondence with school or special education administration.

Another good idea is to have your child write his own story about his/her school experiences for the new teacher.  Here again it should be brief, but still include what they consider their successes and failures, with their best and worst memory from school.  This can be a hard sell to a dyslexic child but can offer the teacher an insight into the child’s world the teacher may never get otherwise.  It may help to explain to your child that this writing is to help teach the teacher.  The thought of teaching the teacher can be an inspiration to a child.

 Even when things do not go well, never complain about the teacher in front of the child, tell them we just need to help the teacher understand.  Understand yourself that regular teachers usually have little training in dealing with different learners.  They also usually have too many students are generally over worked and under paid.  Compassion for the teacher and school’s problems can bring compassion in return for your child.  Always be supportive as possible, even if you disagree, the teacher sometimes needs to learn what is best for your child.

For Teachers

In conclusion, I would like to add a few things just for teachers.  It is very important to understand just how much effort it takes for these kids to even show up at school.  The effort these kids put into an assignment is often many times that of other students, even when their results are disappointing.  Always praise their effort!  Also, please be aware of the delicate balance between high expectations and allowing the student to experience success.  Nothing breeds success, like success however, these are vary capable individuals that need mental challenges.  This is especially true in their areas of strengths.  They may learn differently but if engaged they can learn better than most.  The only trick is to spark their interest, and then learning will happen.  I would like to share a quote from my favorite Internet discussion boards at:

“If learning did not happen, then teaching did not happen!”   I do not say this to put-down teachers.  Teachers are different just like kids.  When there is a mismatch, there is no shame in asking for help, or even asking for a new placement with a teacher that is a better match!  

 Only when parents and educators fail, do these children fail.  We should all do our best to see that no one fails as we prepare to start the new school year! 

 Dan Willemin is an adult dyslexic who is blessed with dyslexic sons.  Dan is also a valuable member of the AABIDA board.

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Priscilla Vail - In Memoriam

We lost Priscilla Vail on July 6th.  Priscilla had a gift.  She could make a believer out of a skeptic and develop passion, dedication, and hope in the passive and victimized.  She made the complicated - simple, the esoteric - understandable, and the scientific - practical.  Priscilla was a translator.  She took the incomprehensible and interpreted for the masses without losing site of the nuance and the specific.  She made it possible for us to understand the “conundrum kids,” the science, the pedagogy, and the solution.  She turned disability into a temporary condition that could be recognized, overcome, admired, and ultimately respected as an opportunity to develop passion and achievement that made being normal appear to be an impediment.

Priscilla’s talent would have supported success in a more remunerative genre.  We have reason to be grateful that her love of children and teaching firmly tethered her talent to developing the skills and dedication of teachers and improving outcomes for children.

With the passing of Priscilla we have lost a fearless, effective, and dedicated advocate as well as a gracious, patient and caring mentor.

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The Austin Area Branch of the International Dyslexia Association's Outreach Committee has great news!  As a result of their tireless efforts, the AABIDA Outreach Committee has received an official proclamation from Texas Governor Rick Perry that proclaims October 2003 as 'Dyslexia Awareness Month' in the state of Texas.

State of Texas

Office of the Governor 

According to the International Dyslexia Association, an estimated 15-20 percent of Americans are affected by dyslexia, a language-based disorder. 

Dyslexia, which comes from the Greek meaning “difficulty with words,” constitutes one of several distinct learning disabilities.  Characterized by difficulties in single word decoding, this disorder deeply affects a person’s ability to read, write, and spell.  Dyslexia may also cause problems in putting things in order, following instructions, and differentiating between left and right. 

With proper diagnosis, appropriate instruction, hard work, and support from their families, teachers, and friends, individuals with dyslexia can excel in school and later as working adults.  Children with dyslexia usually can succeed at the same level as their peers once they are diagnosed and begin receiving extra training at home and school.  Adults with dyslexia can improve their skills with programs utilizing multisensory structured language techniques that can help them learn to read, process, and express information more effectively. 

In an effort to assist parents, educators, and individuals with dyslexia, the International Dyslexia Association is designating October as Dyslexia Awareness Month.  At this time, therefore, I encourage all Texans to offer support to those affected by dyslexia and to recognize the efforts of those who are working to assist them.  Their success is Texas’ success.

Therefore, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim October 2003, 

Dyslexia Awareness Month

 in Texas, and urge the appropriate recognition whereof.  In official recognition whereof, I hereby affix my signature this the 9th day of June, 2003.

 Rick Perry, Governor of Texas 

This official proclamation is a crucial step for the Austin branch.  The Austin branch will be working to provide P.R. opportunities, information seminars, and other opportunities to ‘blitz’ the Austin area with information on and about dyslexia.  We encourage all Texans to take advantage of this opportunity during October 2003. 

October 2003 

The following events will be in Austin, TX. 

Thursday, Oct. 2
“Dyslexia, A Personal Experience”
by Dr. Garth Vaz - Click here for more about Dr. Garth Vaz
Place: Bannockburn Baptist Church, Ed. Bldg.
    7100 Brodie Lane, Austin
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Parents, educators, and students

Friday, Oct. 3
“Early Intervention: Research and Strategies for Teachers and Parents”
by Susan Patteson and Ginny Garrison
Place: Educational Service Center, Region 13
    5701 Springdale Road 
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Parents and educators

Saturday, Oct. 4
Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic
Open House
    1314 W. 45th Street
Time: 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Audience: General

Monday, Oct. 6
“ADD, Dyslexia, and Written Expression: Roadblocks and Remedies for the Writing Process”
by Judy Butler
Place: Clint Small Middle School 
    4801 Monterey Oaks Blvd., Austin
Time: 7:00 PM 
Audience: Educators and parents

Tuesday, Oct. 7
“Advocating for Your Student”
by Melody Kump
Place: Hays CISD
Fuentes Elementary School, 
    901 Goforth, Kyle
Time: 6:30 PM
Audience: Parents, educators, & students (high school & college)

Wednesday, Oct. 8
“Dyslexia: What is it?”
by Charles McClure, Susan Hinton, Brenda Taylor
Place: Wimberley ISD Administration Bldg.
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Educators and Parents

Thursday, Oct. 9
“Advocating for Your Student”
by Melody Kump
Place: Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church
    7127 Bee Caves Road, Austin
Audience: Parents, educators, & students (high school & college)

Friday, Oct. 10 & 17
“Bridges to Practice”
by Alex Baez and Carol Speigl
Place: ACC, Eastside campus
    3401 Webberville Road, Austin
Time: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (2 days)
Audience: Teachers & volunteers working with adult dyslexics 
Please pre-register by calling 512-223-5172

Tuesday, Oct. 14
“Educating the Adolescent Dyslexic”
by Panel of Educators and Parents
Place: St. Frances Academy
    300 E. Huntland Drive, Austin
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Parents and educators

Thursday, Oct. 16
“Math for Dyslexic Students”
by Dr. Mo Yazdi
Place: Trinity School 
    3901 Bee Cave Road, Austin
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Parents and educators

Saturday, Oct. 18 
Book signing by Lavelle Carlson & Martha Wristen and Informational Sessions on Dyslexia
by Lavelle Carlson, Martha Wristen, Ginny Garrison
Place: Book People 
    Lamar & 6th St., Austin
Time: 2:00 PM
Audience: General

Date Unknown - Originally scheduled Sunday, Oct. 19 
“Getting Reading Instruction in Public Schools: Tips for Parents with K-12 Dyslexic Students”
by Judy Butler
Place: Unknown
Time: Unknown
Audience: Parents and educators

Tuesday, Oct. 21 
“Kids That Fall Through the Cracks”
by Leslie Clauss-Novosel
Place: NY Ave. Christian Center
    1190 Chicon St., Austin
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Parents, educators, and community leaders

Wednesday, Oct. 22
“Resources for the Dyslexic Student”
by Amanda DeWitt
Place: AISD Professional Development Academy (Read School)
    2608 Rich Creek
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Parents, educators, and dyslexic students

Thursday, Oct. 23
“Special Ed Laws & Recent Changes”
by Brenda Taylor
Place: Rawson Saunders School 
    2600 Exposition Blvd., Austin
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Parents and educators

Friday, Oct. 24
“Adult Dyslexia Awareness”
by Ginny Garrison
Place: ACC, Eastside Campus
    3401 Webberville, Road, Austin
Time: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Audience: Educators & volunteers for adult dyslexics
Please pre-register by calling 512-223-5172

Monday, Oct. 27
“Working with Dyslexic Adults”
by Ginny Garrison and Ann Palmer
Place: Literacy Austin
    2222 Rosewood Ave., Austin
Time: 7:00 PM
Place: Literacy Austin Bldg.
Audience: Educators & volunteers for adult dyslexics

Monday, Oct. 27
“Kids That Fall Through the Cracks”
by Leslie Clauss-Novosel
Place: Del Valle ISD
    Hillcreast Elementary Library
    6901 E. William Cannon, Austin
Time: 7:00 PM
Audience: Parents, educators,and community leaders

Tuesday, Oct. 28
“Resources for Dyslexic Student”
By Lake Travis ISD Dyslexia Specialists
Place: Hudson Bend Middle School Library
    15600 Lariat Trail (off Hwy. 620 &General Williamson), 
Time: 6:30 PM
Audience: Parents and Educators

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A.A.B.I.D.A. Outreach Committee Presents in San Antonio's Edgewood I.S.D.

by Ginny Garrison

Ginny Garrison, AABIDA Outreach Chairperson, spent an afternoon on August 7, 2021 at the H.K. Williams Elementary located in the area of St. Mary's University at the request of Susie Cavazos, the district’s Dyslexia Coordinator.  Mrs. Cavazos scheduled the presentation for the faculty after the district’s teachers requested more expertise on strategies for working with dyslexics.  The school district currently uses the Scottish-Rite tapes as a large part of their dyslexia program.

In a two hour presentation, Ginny covered new research from Dr. Sally Shaywitz's book, Overcoming Dyslexia, as well as the make-up of the Test of Phonological Awareness for non-readers.  This test can be used to find children at-risk for reading problems even before kindergarten.  H.K. Williams Elementary School has a large Early Childhood population.  Also, Ms. Garrison covered the topics of assessment, coding and decoding, and the co-morbidity of dyslexia with other difficulties such as ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders.  The new statistics about the percentage of dyslexics found in the total population of Special Education were shared as well.

All faculty members received a twenty page packet of information including, among other topics, pages on using Reading Rockets, quotations from Laura Bush on reading, and some key remarks made by Dr. Sally Shaywitz in an interview.  Directions and examples on syllable division, coding, and decoding for accuracy were also in the packet.  At the end of the day, the AABIDA Outreach Committee was asked if they would be available for future dates if needed by the district.

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A.A.B.I.D.A. Outreach Committee Helps Set-Up Parent Support Group in Granger

by Ginny Garrison

One of the goals for the Outreach Committee this year was to visit AABIDA members in their own areas of the branch's region.  In the April 2003 Advocate, these intentions were publicized. Soon after this, Shelly Repa, a mother in Granger, decided to take advantage of the offer and traveled to Austin to meet with Ginny Garrison, Outreach Chairperson, about the possibilities for the Granger area.  Shelly has a dyslexic daughter and knew that there were other parents in the area who needed information.

To prepare for the first meeting, Shelly placed an ad in the area newspaper, e-mailed friends, and found a place to meet.  Ms. Garrison prepared a new manual, The Parent Support Group Manual, covering how to get started, plan meetings, gather information, and request speakers.  This manual also has a page on good internet sites for parents, a list of books and pamphlets aimed at parents, and ways to send away for free booklets on dyslexia.

With the help of Brenda Taylor, the AABIDA Corresponding Secretary, Ginny presented at the first meeting in Granger.  AABIDA gave out  IDA information, parent manuals and the new support group manual.  Teachers, parents and grandparents attended and decided to meet again as soon as possible.  That meeting has been held and the group has personalized their support group to meet their area's specific needs with great success.

If other parents or groups wish a person from the AABIDA Outreach Committee to come and visit their area and provide the new Parent Support Group manual, please call Ginny at (512) 892-6429 or e-mail her at [email protected].  AABIDA is here to serve our entire region!

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Make Learning Bearable

AABIDA’s Annual Conference

Friday, February 27, 2021


Keynote Speaker:  Lucille Helton

Exec. Dir. of The Learning Center of North Texas, a “Schools Attuned”

Regional Training Site for Dr. Mel Levine’s All Kinds of Minds

Dr. William Daley, Educational Psychologist

Jim Walsh, P.C.

Diane Newton, C.A.L.T.

David Sweeney, Texas A & M


Please check the AABIDA web-site in October for the location, cost, and brochure.

The brochure will also be included in “The Advocate” in November.

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Saturday, January 24, 2022 at 6:00 P.M.

at the Old Pecan Street Cafe

310 E. 6th Street

(between Trinity and San Jacinto)

$25.00 per person (this includes a choice of one of the four entrees, tea, dessert, and gratuity.)


Please check the AABIDA web-site in October for the location, cost, and brochure.

The brochure will also be included in “The Advocate” in November. 

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RFB&D and AABIDA Open House

Saturday, October 4, 2021  

Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic - Texas and the Austin Area Branch of the International Dyslexia Association will be co-hosting an Open House at the RFB&D-Texas Unit located at 1314 W. 45th St. in Austin, Texas.  On Saturday, October 4, 2003, the Open House will be from 10:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.  Please visit us to discuss: 

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  2004 AABIDA Board

  If you would like to be a member of the AABIDA board or would like to nominate a friend to the AABIDA board, please mail the person’s contact information to:

2004 AABIDA Nominating Committee
P.O. Box 92604
Austin, TX 78709

 AABIDA board members must attend 70% of the monthly AABIDA board meetings and serve on a standing AABIDA committee.

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Lots of exciting things are happening for dyslexics in Texas! If you are involved in making a difference, please let us know so we can support and promote your efforts. 

Let us know what we can do to support and help you in your area. 

If you are willing to be a contact person for dyslexics in your area, please let us know.

Do you have anything that you would like to share? Please let us so we can include it in the newsletter and on the AABIDA web site.


P.O. Box 92604
Austin, TX 78709

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The International Dyslexia Association neither recommends nor endorses any specific speaker, school, institution, instructional program or material.

Austin Area Branch of the International Dyslexia Association
Local Austin Area Helpline (512) 452-7658 ---

Call our volunteers for:

  1. Membership application blanks and basic information packet
  2. Teacher training information
  3. Referral lists for: