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feature of the week

A conversation with Trina Jones

In the October 8th edition of the Trestle Board, we shared Trina Jones’s story which is one of despair, sadness, anger, helplessness, to one of hope and strength.Trina’s daughters were both diagnosed with Dyslexia (several years apart). Trina took her experience and is using it to assist other parents who find themselves in a similar situation. She formed the Learning Abilities Advocacy, LLC (LAA), whose mission is to arm parents with the tools available to help them in becoming better advocates for their child’s academic success and to empower children, at all levels of their academic development, with the skills necessary for them to confidently advocate for themselves. Let’s see how Trina and her daughter are doing.

  • How would you summarize Layla's improvement and/or current attitude towards reading?

    Like most kids, Layla loves to read books that interested her, but she is still very confident in reading material that does not excite her. There are times when she gives up before trying, and I have to give her encouragement. If she is interested, you can’t get her to stop reading, and her excitement is contagious.

  • Your youngest daughter Layla is still enrolled at the Cleveland Dyslexia Center, how has she adapted to virtual lessons?

    Layla is adapting very well. I purchased a smart board, which she enjoys using. Ms. Jessica has been so great.

  • Is she exclusively virtual, or does she have some days in the classroom?

    At the moment, Layla is solely online and will return in January.

  • How would you describe the Cleveland Dyslexia Center?

    The Children Dyslexia Center feels like family. Carol is amazing and so is the staff. Neither gets nearly as much recognition for the amazing work they do. The Center is truly a blessing.

  • How has she progressed versus how Taliyah progressed once reaching the Cleveland Dyslexia Center?

    Layla is progressing well but is learning things at a slower pace than Taliyah.

  • Your experience and struggles with Taliyah's Dyslexia lead you to form the Learning Abilities Advocacy. Could you tell us about this new venture?

    As a parent going through the special education process, I had no idea what to expect, I did not understand the language in the meetings or my rights, and I did not know where to get the help I needed for my child. I founded Learning Abilities Advocacy to educate, empower, and assist parents through the special education process.

  • How have you helped parents since forming the Learning Abilities Advocacy?

    I have assisted parents in collaborating with their children's schools to create an appropriate Individual Education Plan or 504 with accommodations to help them reach their academic goals.

  • How has COVID-19 affected the LAA, and how have you been able to help parents?

    LAA has many virtual tools in place to accommodate parents and school districts for meetings. I like to host zoom meetings to meet with parents and their children to build a relationship with trust and compassion. I try to check in on my clients every two weeks by zoom, phone, or email to ensure we meet deadlines and support.

  • How do you see the LAA developing, and what is your ultimate goal for the LAA?

    I hope to see LAA working with school districts to implement the Orton Gillingham approach at the beginning of a student's academic journey. I want LAA to be a form of support and empowerment for both parents and students. An informed parent develops an empowered student.

The jones family story

Dyslexia Awareness Month Presents Taliayh’s Story


The phone rang, and it was my daughter’s kindergarten teacher calling me to express her concerns about my daughter’s behavior and lack of focus and participation in class. When Taliyah was asked to identify letters or numbers in class she would start to cry, scream or asked if she could go to the nurse. The school began to document her “meltdowns” and I was scheduled to meet with her teacher, principal, intervention specialist, speech and occupational therapists. I sat at the head of the table as they discussed the assessment results and all the things she could not do and how below average Taliyah was in every subject area. I stated, “this could be dyslexia”. But, I was quickly dismissed with the response “it’s too early to determine if Taliyah has dyslexia, this issue seems more behavioral”.

Over the next two years, there were frustrating battles with homework, multiple calls from Taliyah’s school about meltdowns, Taliyah was placed in an alternative school for children with emotional and behavioral issues and the school collected data that only implemented the bare minimum interventions. I called the office of Dr. Robert Needlman M.D., at MetroHealth Hospital and scheduled an appointment for an assessment and as I suspected Taliyah was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD. I had a diagnosis and I thought” Now we can get the help that we need.” I was so wrong.

For the next few years, Taliyah went to summer reading programs, and every other reading program I could find. I sat in IEP meetings lost and confused. I did not understand the “education” vocabulary, assessments, but I did hear all the things she could not do. I sat in my car and I cried, no not a few tears, a full-blown uncontrollable cry. I just walked out of my daughter’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting and I felt more emotions hitting me at once that I could do nothing but cry. I felt angry, frustrated, confused, helpless, weak, defeated, resentment, sad and hurt. My daughter was in the fifth grade but read on a second -grade level. How could this be? What happened? She has an IEP, why is it not working? Maybe I am not spending enough time helping her with homework? But my God that’s like World War #3. I needed some serious help. Dr. Needlman referred me to The Children’s Dyslexia Center and our lives began to change.

Taliyah began to go for tutoring two nights a week for an hour and I began to research and learn the special education laws. I started to research and learn more about the different learning disabilities and various resources offered in the city of Cleveland to assist families. Taliyah started to participate in class and was no longer having meltdowns. Finally! We were making progress! Taliyah’s next IEP meeting was scheduled but this time I would be heard. As I sat at the head of the table, I was calm and secure. I finally found my voice to advocate for my child with knowledge and a clear understanding that Taliyah needed a multisensory approach to learning. I understood the “education” language and I understood what she needed, but most importantly Taliyah found her voice and began to advocate for herself. Taliyah became excited about school and the different books she could read on her own or with the assistance of audio technology. Taliyah would use some of the techniques she learned at the center to help her in class to sound out words and showed some of her peers how to use some of the techniques. The Children’s Dyslexia Center was a very important part in building Taliyah’s confidence.

Layla started school happy and confident. We were off to a great start, then the phone rang and not because she was sick or had an accident. There were some concerns about Layla's schoolwork. "Not again," I said to myself. I immediately made a doctor's appointment and waited a few months to have Layla evaluated and once again the diagnosis of Dyslexia waved hello to us. Layla's kindergarten teacher worked with me to ensure I had all the documents needed to create an effective IEP. When Layla entered first- grade, she was on an IEP with audio technology and ascribe assistance. Layla is currently receiving tutoring from the Children's Dyslexia Center. This journey has taught me many lessons but most importantly it has taught me that I have the strength, knowledge, and voice to advocate and empower my children who learn differently. I founded Learning Abilities Advocacy to help parents collaborate with the children’s school district to ensure their children are receiving the appropriate learning accommodations and parents know and understand their rights for their children who learn differently.