Texas Mother Pushing for an October 3rd Dysgraphia Awareness Day
“As I walked down the school hall and realized I could read all the other students’ posters but not my son’s poster, I knew there was a problem bigger than just messy writing.”
Deedra Scherm has many things on her resume: Author, Theater Performer, Producer, Entrepreneur…but lately she has added Dysgraphia Advocate to that list.
“Technically, I guess I’ve been advocating for my sons for years and just recently I felt like it was time to do more.”
Deedra lives in Texas with her husband, three sons, and two dogs. Within her household there are diagnoses of Autism, Dyslexia, ADD, and Dysgraphia…and she has faced the challenges of these diagnoses for two decades. Surprisingly to some, it is the lack of awareness for dysgraphia, a neurological disorder, that often creates the most frustration.
“Any parent that has a child with dysgraphia knows how hard it can be to express the nuances that encompass this learning disability. One example, in class my son will print a word that is so clear. In the next class, filling out a worksheet can create answers that are almost impossible to read. It will bring physical pain, writing he won’t be able to read himself, and a feeling of failure. Then a teacher might say ‘well he did it fine on Monday, he must not be trying now.’ The thing is that he IS really trying, and accusations otherwise are so defeating. This is just one of dozens of ways the lack of awareness hurts. It’s heartbreaking for us.”
This heartbreak is the fire that drives her motivation for advocacy.
“I was talking with my husband about when we first got the diagnosis, dysgraphia was barely recognized or supported in our school system."
"Even many recent reports can’t give an accurate percent of children with dysgraphia…often citing ranges between 10-30%. Now, there are more options, but it’s still so hard when you don’t know how to get evaluated or what kind of help is available. I started to cry at the thought of being able to tell parents how to get more help, and what that could mean for their child’s success and mental health. My husband told me I should go do it! But I quickly realized that if more widespread understanding of dysgraphia wasn’t available, getting help implemented would be almost impossible.”
This is when she decided to head up the campaign for an official Dysgraphia Awareness Day. Deedra created the Facebook group “We need a Dysgraphia Awareness Day, am I write?” and October 3rd has been chosen as the targeted day. October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, which Dysgraphia Life has also been promoting as Dysgraphia Awareness Month to help raise awareness. Plans for a dysgraphia awareness podcast, official state and federal petitions, and a search for a celebrity spokesperson are about to be released.
Like us, Deedra doesn’t believe this is something she can do on her own. We all need to build community and work together to support our shared mission. “Let’s do this!” is one of Deedra's most repeated phrases these days and she is hoping this journey will lead to “helping kids and parents find more support, better learning options, and gobs and gobs of hope!”