In the midst of an under-the-klieg-lights campaign for the U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., took some time Thursday to address an issue that for him is far more personal than political: dyslexia.
In an informational hearing before the U.S. House Science Committee, Cassidy spoke about his experience as a father when he and his wife, Laura, learned a few years ago that their younger daughter was dyslexic.
Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican, helped form the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus to raise awareness of the condition and promote programs to help people diagnosed with it. His wife led an effort to start a charter school in Baton Rouge that focuses on students with dyslexia; it opened in 2013.
“I believe we can come together on behalf of the children we love and the nation we serve and work in a bipartisan and bicameral capacity,” Cassidy said, according to remarks he prepared for the committee. “Greater strides need to be made in ensuring that every dyslexic child and adult has a chance to read, to learn, to demonstrate, and to realize his or her full potential.”
Stacie Antin of Gonzales, who has enrolled her son in the Baton Rouge school, told the committee about her son’s struggles with dyslexia, a reading disorder characterized by difficulty decoding words from their written form.
“He’s still not a huge fan of school,” Antin said before testifying. But, she said, “For the first time, he’s held his head a little higher. He didn’t feel ostracized by the other kids because he couldn’t read aloud.”
Cassidy is running to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu this fall in an election that has drawn national attention because defeating Landrieu is a key to Republican attempts to capture a majority of the Senate.