Hundreds attend September Literacy Summit

AUGUSTA, GA – More than 250 educators and community members turned out for the GRU Literacy Center’s September Literacy Summit on Sept. 12-13, which focused on the impact of autism and ADHD on literacy skills.

“There are so many unanswered questions about autism,” said Dr. Paulette Harris, Cree-Walker Professor of Education and Director of the Literacy Center. “The community is really hungry for knowledge and instruction on how to help children diagnosed with autism develop language and literacy skills, and what to look for in those who have not been diagnosed.”

Friday’s keynote speaker, Kerrie Powell, is a nationally known advocate for those with autism disorders. And Saturday’s keynote speaker, Dr. Joel Sussman, is a physician who built his practice around patients with ADHD.

Powell talked about her journey with her own autistic son.  Sussman, who has ADHD himself, has organized his medical practice around families who have a child struggling with ADHD. He shared stories about his own practice, and what he learned after medical school. He returned to school after completing his M.D., and earned a masters in learning disabilities to better understand the needs of patients of all ages who struggle with ADD and ADHD.

The summit will also feature presentations on the National Reading Styles Institute and its programs designed to combat dyslexia and related disorders, along with sessions on Love & Logic, Phonics Alive and Color Me Organized. A panel discussion will feature experts from local school systems to talk about how they’re responding to the needs of students with learning differentiations.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1 in 68 children are born with an autism spectrum disorder – a rate 30 percent higher than previously thought. According to national figures, four million adults in the United States can neither sign their own names nor do other rudimentary tasks. According to Georgia’s Task Force on Adult Literacy, one out of three adult Georgians is functionally illiterate.

“The numbers are just staggering. And there is no much more work to be done,” Harris said.

The GRU Literacy Center hosts regular workshops on issues that impact literacy in adults and children, along with individual tutoring to learners of all ages, summer literacy camps, literacy sponsored plays, and more. For more information, visit

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