New program addresses learning differences - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

New program addresses learning differences

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The words are jumbled and frustration has set in. Dyslexia is not a learning disability, according to Paola Vermeer, it's a learning difference.

"It only becomes a disability because of the way things are taught in the classroom. In the real world, it's not a disability. In fact, a lot of these are abilities. It's a gift," says Vermeer.

Vermeer is starting a program called W.I.L.D. - wisdom inspired by learning differences. 

"The goal of W.I.L.D. is to pair up college students with learning differences with elementary and middle school students that have similar difficulties," said Vermeer.

Sam Vermeer, Paola's son, has dyslexia. He says writing and reading are his learning challenges. So, he uses things like clay to make three-dimensional letters.

"It helps to train my left side of my brain, so that I can read better, like smoothly," said Sam.

Because the Sioux Falls School District doesn't allow distribution of a program like W.I.L.D., the Vermeer's are going through local learning and tutoring centers as well as the University of Sioux Falls and National American University.

"The mentee views the mentor as a model for success. Right? Here's a person that has a very similar challenge or challenges I'm dealing with now in elementary school and they made it to college," said Vermeer.

She says students with learning differences are often idea driven, and thus critical to our society.

"If we can just get them through school, these kids will be successful. There is no doubt about that."

For additional information about the program email wild.siouxfalls.sd@gmail.com.

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