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Reading teacher on a mission

Bathsheba Sagiao, a reading teacher at Samoa Baptist Academy has been on a personal mission for the past couple of years. She is trying to find as many children as possible here in American Samoa who have the Developmental Reading Disorder (DRD) called Dyslexia.

Two years ago, she found out her daughter had this disability and sought treatment for her. At the same time, she began to educate herself on the disorder,  and now she is seeking out other children here in the territory who might be struggling with this disability. She wants to work with and tutor them, along with educating their parents and teachers.

Samoa News had a chance to speak with Sagiao, on her quest to aid others.

Dyslexia, it should be noted, is a reading and writing disability that occurs that occurs in the brain, wherein a person cannot properly recognize symbols.  The disorder affects ten to fifteen percent of the United States population and yet only five out of every one hundred dyslexics are recognized and receive assistance, according to the Dyslexia Research Institute website

“A couple of years back, my daughter, Danielle, had a hard time reading and I didn’t know why. I had to take her off island, but they couldn’t test her. I then saw a PBS special on TV that made me realize what was wrong with my daughter.

That’s when I started to do research on dyslexia,” said Sagiao. “I went off island to learn how to tutor her and l also learned how to identify the symptoms of dyslexia. I’m trying to identify those kids who are dyslexic, because it is my heart’s desire to help others in this way, and I love to do what I am doing”.

Also according to the website, approximately 60% of individuals diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) are also dyslexic, however, their learning and language differences are often unrecognized because only the behavioral aspects of ADHD are addressed. Without the proper diagnosis and help, many of these dyslexics and ASHD individuals are only functionally literate and are part of the forty-four million with only the lowest level of literacy. This limits their ability to find jobs and function independently within their community.

“Since we can’t afford to diagnose the kids, I try and identify the children who have the signs and warning symptoms. One of the things that I am trying to do is get the message across to other teachers and especially parents who might be wondering what is going on with their children who might be struggling with this. I want to make a connection with them and open up an opportunity for me to tutor them and to teach others how to tutor them by using the Susan Barton multi-sensory reading and spelling system,” she said.

Susan Barton is recognized internationally as an expert in dyslexia. She is in the Hall of Honor at the headquarters of  International Dyslexia. Her goal is to help parents, teachers and others to understand dyslexia, so they can provide the right type of help. The dyslexia website, states that the Susan Barton Reading and Spelling System is a multi-sensory approach to learning skills of reading and works very well with individuals who struggle with reading of any age.

For more information on Bathsheba Sagiao’s mission to locate those in American Samoa with dyslexia you can contact her at 258-1973, or 699-5327.

“I would love to help and work with the parents who think that their children may have dyslexia,” she said.


Some warning signs of dyslexia in preschoolers:

*         delayed speech

*         mixing up the sounds or syllables in long words

*         chronic ear infections

*         severe reactions to childhood illnesses

*         constant confusion of left versus right

*         late in establishing a dominant hand

*         difficulty in learning to tie shoes

*         trouble memorizing address, phone number or the alphabet

*         cannot create words that rhyme


In Elementary school children:

*         handwriting is difficult to read

*         letter or number reversal continuing past first grade

*         extreme difficulty in learning cursive writing

*         slow, choppy inaccurate reading

*         terrible spelling

*         difficulty in telling time on a clock with hands

*         trouble with math