On Friday 25 April 2014, Wied Ruijssenaars received Royal Decoration. Ruijssenaars has been appointed Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Professor of Special Education Wied Ruijssenaars (1951), in his role as chair of the Dyslexia Committee of the Health Council, has defined dyslexia as a disability and earned recognition for its status as such. Based on this recognition, it is now legally possible for dyslexic children to be given extra time for examinations and protocols have been developed that form the basis for the supervision and treatment of pupils with dyslexia. Currently Ruijssenaars – together with other experts and representatives – is busy convincing Secretary of State Dekker that similar regulations are needed for serious problems with arithmetic (dyscalculia).
Ruijssenaars’ work as a scientist is pioneering in the sense that he has been able to introduce structure and organization to the knowledge of diagnostics and treatment in general and of reading, spelling and arithmetic problems in general. He has provided definitions that are generally accepted and have become the yardstick in the scientific training of special educationalists in postacademic teaching institutions.
In the field of treatment, he has designed a treatment cycle that dovetails perfectly with the diagnostic cycle he helped develop. As a result he has given scientific thinking in the field of diagnostics and treatment a major boost. His publications include articles in international and national scientific journals. Many of his textbooks are used by university training programmes in Special Education and Psychology all over the Netherlands and Flanders.
By donating part of the earnings from his books to the Stichting Leerproblemen [Learning Difficulties Foundation], knowledge about problems with learning, spelling and arithmetic as well as diagnosis and treatment is not only made available to special educationalists, psychologists and remedial teachers, but also to the parents, thus ensuring that the children can be helped even more effectively. He is particularly talented in the dissemination of his scientific knowledge to parents and other involved parties (including special educationalists, psychologists and remedial teachers), resulting in better help for the children. He is also one of the few scientists who uses science for a higher goal, namely the improvement of the wellbeing and quality of life of people in society.
As chair of the NVO, the Association of Educationalists in the Netherlands, Ruijssenaars has made an extraordinary contribution to the quality assurance of professionals/special educationalists, enabling them to register as health psychologists and thus receive recognition and payment for their work. This has given many thousands of special educationalists the chance of worthwhile paid employment.
Ruijssenaars is extremely talented at connecting with people. For example, at one conference he played the roles of a cyclist and a guitarist to clarify for the entire audience (professionals, parents and children) what tackling dyslexia is all about – practise, practise, practise. In addition, he provides direct support as a care provider for parents and children with unusual care requests, as well as for special educationalists in the field. Ruijssenaars is also regularly involved on a voluntary basis with individual dyslexic children and their parents, one example being a boy who he co-supervised from group 6 in primary school right up to university. He also offers his services for free in the diagnosis and treatment of many young and adult illiterates, who had often not been acknowledged and have nowhere to go with their (usually concealed) disability and problems.
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