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My 15 yr old son will be starting 10th grade next week.
Over the summer he was diagnosed with dyslexia. I am
totally surprised by it. He is a very bright kid and does
amazingly well on standardized tests but his grades at
Albany High are totally average. He put off doing homework
like mad-I assumed he was just lazy-but now I know that
doing it is really harder for him than I thought. We have
no dyslexia in the family and I have no idea what this
means as far as next steps. What do we do now? Tell his
teachers when school starts but what exactly will that
mean as far as homework, expectations around reading
assignments, testing etc?
mom of two
Getting accommodations from the school could help your son a great
deal -- not just in high school, but afterward too. Many junior
colleges and even U.C. Berkeley have programs to help kids with
learning disabilities. However, because many students who don't have
disabilities try to take advantage of these programs, things have
tightened up in terms of people taking it on faith that their is a
problem. The process to get your son accommodations will be slow, but
just take it step by step. The first step is telling your school in
writing that your son is dyslexic (if possible include his
evaluation), and request an assessment from the school. Your goal is
to get a 504 plan or an IEP, and that will help a great deal when it's
time for him to attend college. You'll find lots online about starting
the process toward getting an IEP. Good luck!
Education Advocates at DREDF (Disability Rights Education and Defense
Fund) can give you information and help on approaching the school.
Just give us a call at 510-644-2555. We get very busy at the
beginning of the school year, but do our best to get back to callers
as soon as possible.
RM, Education Advocate
Your posting raises several questions. First, how are you and your son
reacting to and processing this information. It is important that your
son understands that dyslexia does NOT mean he has any less ability to
do very well in school - rather the fact is that working with written
language presents certain challenges for him (and that he is not
lazy). With the appropriate supports and methods these challenges can
Working with an experienced learning specialist could direct your
family on the best study methods and resources for your son and guide
him to work to his full potential. For example, having recorded
textbooks that he can listen to could make a significant difference.
The national educational therapy group www.aetonline.org and also the
East Bay learning disability group www.eastbaylda.org have directories
(along with other resources). I am a member of both organizations.
Regarding the school - the process is to work with the school
counselor and/or psychologist - inform them that you had this
assessment done and you would like to request a meeting with them to
discuss the appropriate services for your son. It is a legal process
and the school may or may not determine that your son has a
disability. There is a difference between having dyslexia and
determining that the dyslexia significantly interferes with the
education to a degree that it becomes a legal disability. This can be
a complex issue, the law involved is IDEA (Individual with
Disabilities in Education Act). A good starting point to become
familiar with this law is at www.ldonline.org
I hope this starts you on the road to incorporating this new information.
S.U., Educational Therapist
My daughter age 16 who was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 8 followed a program
called ''Path to Reading'' (pathtoreading.com). Carrie Kartman in Albany (510)
524-1842 was her tutor for years, learned about the program and trained in it
specifically to help my daughter. I
highly recommend her. After 6 weeks of following it my daughter jumped 2 grade
levels in reading. She still struggles and does not often read for pleasure but
it made the difference for her in being able to keep up with school work. Her LD
is visual perception, spacial
awareness. I'm not sure if it would work for your son but it is worth
considering. Definitely pursue the resource options at school.
To the parent whose son was diagnosed with dyslexia, begin by getting
a written assessment either through the high school, or private
testing. Important who signs the evaluation, as they must be
certified.(Check out sliding scale at UCB's Tolman Hall clinic and
Aliant in Oakland, both have provided good service for us.) This
official paperwork is required to get extra time in high school for
testing, note taking by another student, and other accommodations.
Remember that for ACT or SAT testing, they require an extra couple of
months to approve more time, so send in the special application in
advance/beginning of the school year. Ideally meet with high school
admin before the year starts to discuss accommodations, have them
issue a written note and you then can meet with each of your son's
teachers with the note. The school admin is supposed to notify
teachers, but doesn't always do so. Begin the school year with a tutor
identified for each subject you think might be difficult for your son.
By the time you've realized he's having problems and locate a tutor,
too much time goes by. Better to have support in place, but you can
limit it to every other week and ramp up when necessary. Having you or
someone in place as an editor to go over student's written homework
text (usually at the last minute) is useful, so those spelling errors
are corrected. With extra testing time and tutoring support, dyslexia
can be managed, though student has to work harder than most of their
peers. (BTW, most colleges require an up-to-date evaluation for
freshmen accommodations and will not accept an older report, though
won't tell you ahead of time. Send your kid's evaluation right after
you accept the college offer and ask for approval.)
Mom w/ dyslexic kid doing well at University
Bill Baldyga works with older dyslexic kids. He's an educational
therapist and can give you a better idea on the next steps to take.
He's helped our daughter and I recommend him highly. He can be
reached at: halcyonlearning.com.
Best of luck to you and your son.
I've recently begun to suspect that our brilliant 10 year old son may have at
least a mild form of dyslexia. It's been easy to miss because he's been
otherwise at such a high level in most areas but there are some consistent
difficulties with spelling and new word attack that he's been having since 1st
grade (and difficulty solving problems involving pattern-matching in preschool)
and now I'm suspecting more is going on. He's currently in a private school
without dyslexia assessment, so I'm wondering where I can go to have him
assessed? We live in Oakland - will the OUSD assess him? Does insurance
usually cover this type of assessment?
Parents with mildly dyslexic children, does his difficulty profile sound familiar to
Jessica Lipkind is an excellent person from whom to get this
assessment. She is careful, pays attention to detail, and is also
conscious of avoiding needless expense. We had our son assessed by an
older woman for a huge sum of money a few years ago. I wish I had
known Jessica then, as we would have gotten a much better assessment
for a fraction of the price. Jessica is young and gets on really well
with kids, and has the empathy to relate well to parents. email:
The quick answer is to make a written request to your school
district. However, if your child is in private school, you
might want to go with a private assessment through UC or a
developmental psychologist -- your pediatrician can make a
recommendation. I do think it is important to have the
information -- if you are suspecting dyslexia it is pretty
likely. One quick check you can do yourself is compare how
your child reads individual words (on cards or signs)
compared to how they read a book -- an intelligent child
with a lot of knowledge of text will be able to read much
better in context -- this was one of the clues I had to my
child's learning differences. Also, does your child reverse
letters or have particularly bad spelling when he writes? --
that is another clue. If you are worried about this, there
probably is something worth getting checked -- if there is a
learning difference, there are specific things your son can
learn to do to compensate for the difference, and the sooner
you begin the better.
How does one get their teenager diagnosed for dyslexia?
My 16 year old son is a good student, well rounded and smart.
However, he also has a problem that when he reads something, he
doesn't always see the entire question. Consequentially, he
sometimes misreads the question, thereby ensuring an incorrect answer.
This recently came up when going over questions that he got wrong on
the PSAT test. When he tried to redo a question that he missed, it
became clear that he would repeatedly misread the question. He would
do this even when I told him to take his time and be careful. Only
upon reading the question aloud would he correctly read it.
This only happens periodically, not all of the time, but I am
concerned that he might have a learning disability that needs to be
I, too, posess this problem, although I have hidden it all my life.
I transpose numbers in a telephone address even though I am telling
myself to be careful when writing it down. It is like a ''skip'' that
I just can't help and it is not all of the time.
I am worried for my son and wondering if there is anything I can do
to help him.
Any suggestions out there?
My daughter's dyslexia was diagnosed at UC Berkeley's Psychology
Clinic at Tolman Hall. They have a sliding scale. Her diagnosis of
dyslexia allowed her to receive time and a half on tests, and other
accommodations. Half a year before high school, I requested that the
district have her tested. (Needless to say, this process can take some
time). They like to look over outside testing but require their own
assessments or won't provide accommodations. They tested and approved.
This worked for a few years, and I would inform each teacher about it
because the administration was slow in doing so. When she was a
junior, I started the paperwork for her to get accommodations in
taking the PSAT and SAT. Again, starting early is important as it can
take several months for these agencies to approve extra time. Her
counselor did not want to sign, and wanted to take away her
accommodations-- we assumed it was because she was receiving good
grades. It required sustained effort to keep the accommodations in
place until she graduated.
I thought college would be easier, but I
was wrong. Dyslexia evaluations are only good for about 3-4 years and
then require retesting. By law they cannot be accepted when considered
outdated. Unfortunately we were not informed about this, so that when
she started college they did not want to give her accommodations at
first, even though I had sent them her past tests several months
before she started. I had her retested at Alliant (510 628-9065)
because they were affordable and did not have as long a waiting period
to get tested as UCB. (Although it took them time to actually get the
report done. Note that with both testing places that she was tested by
a graduate student with professional oversight by a licensed
The UC she attends has given her time and a half on
tests, and a host of other accommodations if she needs them.
You do have to be a strong advocate for your child or teen if you feel
they need intervention. I do want you to know that my child was a slow
reader, didn't pick up a book that was more than a dozen pages until
she was 14, was (and is) a terrible speller, yet was accepted into
several UCs and private schools. Dyslexia means she has to work twice
as hard, but it doesn't mean she cannot do the work. Accommodations
gave her the ability to succeed. Parents can model for their student
requesting, at times insisting, on what is needed for them to succeed.
Thriving with Dyslexia
There's so much you can do to help your child. You might start by
getting a full assessment for learning disabilities. I recommend
Cynthia Peterson, Jack Fahy or Carina Grandison. These three folks
are all excellent at doing assessment of youth regarding learning
disabilities. You can also check out the website at www.ldaca.org
(Learning Disabilities Association of California) for some really
great resources. Best of luck to you and your family.
We took my son to Julie Jervey M.S, C.E.T for assessment 4 years ago.
At that time she was on Domingo across from the Claremont Hotel. She
was wonderful. Very warm, very thorough and very helpful with
strategies, getting accommodations at school, etc. I can't recommend
her highly enough!
There may be a fatigue factor that kicks off the 'word-blindness'
that comes up once in a while. If it doesn't happen often, and if
his usual reading comprehension is OK, then it may not be a big
problem, even though it's upsetting when it happens.
Reading for pleasure is a good measure of comprehension -- if he does
read for pleasure, other than comix or car magazines, he's probably
OK on comprehension.
If he doesn't read for pleasure, then you have a red flag: what could
have been minor weakness triggered once in a while by fatigue might
be something more. Since it sometimes shows up in a test situation,
you're probably concerned that he may not be able to show what he can
really do if the weakness sets in while he's doing it.
Getting a diagnosis could be useful: a) simply to know more about how
his brain's working; and, b) to get accomodations, such as extra
time, for tests.
You've noted, however, that more time doesn't help. He may just need
a break, say 20 minutes, and then to come back to the task -- which
could conceivably be an accomodation -- although an unusal one.
Psychoeducational testing is not inexpensive, so if the problem is
irritating, but not hugely in the way of performance, it may be worth
just accepting it and living with it.
If you choose testing, the Ann Martin Center in Oakland probably has
the best rates. Corinne Gustafson of Reach for Learning in Albany
may do this kind of assessment -- though she may not do the FULL
psychoeducational assessment (which includes the services of a
psychologist for the testing of IQ). The full assessment is required
for official accomodations.
Jane McClure of McClure, Mallory, and Barron at 415 421 4177 may be a
good contact both for testing and planning for college.
At the minimum, your son should aim to note and understand this
problem, and be able to explain it clearly to himself and others as
needed. The more he can do that, the more he can figure out his own
ways around it or through it.
I would like to have my five year old son assessed for dyslexia,
mainly because we have a family history of dyslexia and he may
be showing possible signs. I would prefer to have this done by a
private reading specialist (?) or other expert before we get the
school district involved. Ideally, I am looking for a person who
could diagnose him and if he is dyslexic, work with us on how
best to approach our school district with the information (my
husband is dyslexic and has very negative memories about how his
elementary schools dealt with his reading problems). Does can
anybody refer a specialist who may make this type of diagnosis?
Are there any individuals/agencies who will act as an advocate
for parents? We are hoping to have this done before he enters
kindergarten in the fall).
Dear Concerned Mama, My third-grader has dyslexic tendencies. We began
Binocular Vision Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Optometry. It's
important to rule out
all physical/organic issues before going on to learning techniques. We
tried on our
own to work with our daughter (having her read to us and spelling
tasks). This helped,
but we are now beginning to work with an Educational Therapist (ET).
There are many
psychologists, ETs, etc. who will test for you. My bias is to minimize
testing (the public
schools are big on tests) and focus on interventions. The Linda Mood
Bell program is
the most comprehensive and local program in Berkeley (that I found).
They are big on
testing too. It's good to begin early, but kids all learn to read
differently and it's really
important to keep up your reader's SELF-CONFIDENCE. Good luck.
I am a Diagnostic Teacher and have had experience with in-depth
assessment and the diagnosis of dyslexia. Your questions are
excellent, and the fact that there is a family history
indicates that perhaps someone should take a closer look at
your child. My first instinct would be to tell you that it is
too early to test a five year old for dyslexia due to the fact
that it would be developmentally appropriate for a child that
age to not be reading yet, or to even have the pre-requisite
skills in place. (I am fully aware that some 5 year olds are
reading AND that schools are pushing this expectation earlier
and earlier. However, it is also perfectly developmentally
appropriate that some children don't have all those skills in
place until they are closer to 7 yesars old.) On the other
hand, with your family history, I would recommend that you
share your specific concerns with an expert; what indicators
have you seen in your child? It IS key to get an early
diagnosis, but do proceed with caution. I would be happy to
talk with you further about what you are seeing with your child
and perhaps offer some suggestions.
A parent of two children with learning disabilities now ages 25
and 29. Here is what we did. Started with UC School of Optometry
and followed with hiring a private Ed Psy to do assessments. This
assessment was used in future battles with the schools and to
guide the ED Therapist, David Berg, Berkeley.
School battles included accommodations and extended time for
testing. Without the Ed testing establishing the learning
disability (difference) you don't have a claim to
accom-modations. Oh, and these tests came in handy when getting
accommodations they tested SAT and in College. Daughter #1,
Marshall Scholar in Physics and now in PhD program in Physics.
Daughter #2 completed Master degree at Columbia.
Their success is attributable to the early diagnosis and
treatment, their hard work and advocacy/assistance by parents.
I'm wondering if there are parents out there whose kids have
dyslexia who can help me figure out how to connect with
resources, information, and support. My 8 year old has
dyslexia, and it would be great to be in touch with other
parents who are dealing with the same thing. I feel like we've
been lucky so far in getting him diagnosed early, and getting
hooked up with special ed. and other support.
Thanks in advance!
I have a lot of websites and nonprofit information, I have read
lots of books and have been to conferences.
What information are you looking for?
I am also the mother of an 8-year-old dyslexic. I would welcome
the opportunity to talk with other parents of dyslexics.
I have a 9 yr old son with dyslexia. We're in OUSD and would be
happy to talk with you and share ideas etc. I'm assuming you
know the basics in terms of getting services etc... because
you've gotten them and a diagnosis. If you're in Oakland, I
would very much like to compare notes on what you're getting in
terms of services. Even if you're in another school district it
would be great to connect.
Call Stellar Academy in Newark, it's a school for kids with
Dyslexia...the number is 797-2227. The office person I recently
spoke with is named Marlene. She was a world of info (I was
calling about another issue as well).
Our son was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. He is 11 years
old and his reading comprehension is very good, but he is a
slow reader and he never chooses to read, except for comic
books and magazines with lots of ads. We have read that
dyslexics who are doing well in school early on may have
trouble in high school and college. Does anyone with
experience with this issue know what we could be doing to help
our son (he doesn't want to do anything like tutoring or
classes because he doen't feel he has a problem)? What
happened with your child as they got older and the reading and
writing demands got bigger?
While I do not have specific advice for older kids with dyslexia and how it
affects their schooling in the upper grades (I am actually very interested in any
advice that my come through about this as my dyslexic son will be entering 6th
grade at King next year), but I would like to extend my email address to you in
hopes that we can connect and possibly provide each other with some support in
navigating what may be a pretty rocky road ahead.
It may also be nice for the boys to know that they are not the only ones who
struggle with this!
The fact that his comprehension is good is wonderful. That will be a real bonus
for him. However, when the demands of reading become more intense someone who
reads slowly can fall further and further behind, get discouraged and frustrated.
I am wondering if he would be willing to try doing some simple movement activities
at home that help organize his brain so it is easier to read faster. The idea is
that there isn't anything ''wrong'' with him to fix, but instead this is a skill
that he is going to need to use a lot of as he gets older and it might be wise to
make it easier now instead of when he has to use it more.
You might want to check out the website www.handle.org or
www.learningandgrowth.com for lots of information on an approach to working with
learning differences called HANDLE. It is gentle, respectful, developmental, non
invasive and the activities are done at home. My children have both done it and
have seen such great results that I trained in the approach and now work with
Parent of dyslexic 11 year-old,
I can share my personal experience and my professional experience. I was not
diagnosed with dyslexia until grad school. I managed my way through high school
by accepting very low academic expectations from my teachers and parents and
myself. I did not like to read or to write, they both took a great deal of
energy. And I never seemed to get as much back from it than I put in. I went to
art school to avoid academics and still be successful. These 'work a rounds' of
getting my formal education worked, I thought, for that time in my life.
When I went to grad school it all fell apart. I had to read and write a lot. And
it was expected that I express myself clearly through writing. Through grad
school I had to teach myself how to write a paper. There was just no way to avoid
it. Finally facing this demand was very stressful but opened up so much to me.
Looking back, if I would have learned how to read for pleasure and write when I
was younger I think the opportunities that life offers would have been greater and
I am very happy with the career I finally ended up in. It took a long time to get
to this place and I would say it has not been an easy way to
go about it.
As for your son, I am an Educational Therapist who specializes in working with
people with dyslexia. It is common for dyslexics to have high scores with reading
comprehension along with low fluency scores and poor decoding skills. As students
progress through the grades, the readings are more and more difficult and of
greater length. One aspect for students who avoid reading is that they do not
build up an adequate vocabulary and thus struggle as academic demands become
I have worked with several dyslexic adults who thought they reached a glass
ceiling in their career because of their weak writing skills. Maybe your son will
pursue a career path that will not require strong reading and writing skill's,
even so, I personally think there are so many wonderful ideas and feelings and
knowledge expressed only through the written word, that to avoid this way to
enhance life is rather sad. I wish I had been open to that part of our world
sooner in life Bill
My 6.5-year-old daughter is in 1st grade. She is having a hard
time learning to read and write, and is at the bottom of her
class. We've talked to her teachers, had a reading tutor, and
some educational testing. Everyone's been hesitant to label it,
but dyslexia has been mentioned. We've also been told that she
is attentive, diligent and seems bright enough in other subjects,
such as math and spoken language. She is making slow progress.
We are willing to work with her ourselves, and get help for her
from others people. We're about to start regular work with a
What bothers me is what learning specialists and testers tell us.
They say that we have caught this at a good time, and with as
little as a few months of intervention now, she will be fine.
(This fairly short term estimate, coupled with the results of the
testing, indicate she isn't far behind expectations for her age.)
However, when I ask what would happen if we just wait, I am told
dire consequences are in her future. The threatened consequences
include ''She'll never be a good reader, and struggle with reading
for the rest of her life'' and ''Fluent reading is required by
third grade, and she will fall far behind her class,'' etc. I
simply don't believe this, and it undermines my confidence in
them and their conclusions. Of course, they report success
stories, but I wonder if these children would have learned to
read just fine in any case.
Why don't I believe them? First, I was a poor reader until 4th
grade, had no intervention of any kind, and was an excellent
reader by the time I was 12. Second, I have friends who report a
diversity of early reading skills, from people who could read by
the time they were 4 to people who struggled until they were 9,
(Some of whom describe themselves as dyslexic) but all of whom
read well now. In fact, no one I know (without obvious,
significant cognitive disabilities) did not learn to read just
fine. My friends may be a biased sample, but I went to an
average public elementary school, and none of my classmates
failed to learn to read.
Has anyone been in a similar situation? In particular, did
anyone simple wait, and what happened?
We knew in first grade that my son had a problem and might have a
learning disability but held off going through the assessment process
because we were skeptical. After paying for a lot of private ed therapy
to try to bring him up to speed, seeing how agonizingly slow the
was going, and then getting the diagnosis anyway, I think we could have
just as easily started the ball rolling sooner. He is in third grade
and holding his own in a very high performing classroom but I don't
think he would be doing as well as he is if we hadn't started the
If you are doubtful, I would recommend that you remediate now and then
request an evaluation at the beginning of 2nd grade if you don't see
improvement. It might be that after a few months of ed therapy, your
daughter begins reading at or near grade level. If not, you still have
the option of getting her an assessment which will tell you how much of
a gap there is between her intelligence and her reading speed and
fluency. If the gap is a big one, then you need services and your
school is legally required to provide them.
It may take a few months or a few years because every child is
different. You won't know until you try.
Trust me, early intervention is really the best approach.
mom of third grader
Our daughter fell behind in school in second grade. We had her tested
and then began rigorous summer sessions at Lindamood-Bell. I think the
sessions helped her reading skills but they didn't make her
about reading. She dreads it, and she's in seventh grade. I think your
working with her daily is the best thing if you have the patience and
skills to do it, and somehow make it fun for your child instead of a
In retrospect, LMB helped my child with her technical skills but did
convince her to WANT to read.
Mom to dyslexic
While it is unfortunate that in our society we force six-year-olds to
keep up with a grading curve and put unfair pressure on them to develop
at the same time and in the same ways as their peers, it may be
nessiccery to get your daughter help to keep her from being unhappy
(more than regular child unhappiness being in a place like a Western
school). You must realize that times have changed since you were a
Then, a child could be a little slow in certain areas but would catch
Now, if a child can't read by third grade, teachers tend to treat them
like their life is over. I think that if it were in a better situation,
a child would learn to read at their own pace and way. However, in our
schools, it does not work like that. If a child is behind, they tend to
stay that way. Try to get her help without sending the message that she
has done something wrong or that it' her fault she can't read. The
standards and starting younger and younger now, and you don't want her
to be tagged as a ''behind'' child.
My Two Cents
In Waldorf education, the children begin to read when they are ready.
Reading is introduced in 1st grade (7years old). Most kids are reading
by 3rd-4th grades ( 9 -10 years old). That is part of the reason we
picked this form of education, no early pressure to perform.
I'm not sure what current interventions are like, but I can tell you a
little about what it's like to be a dislexic learning to read. When I
was growing up, learning differences were still the frontier, but by
time I was in third grade my teachers had me tested and diagnosed and I
started special tutoring. It was a very painful and embarassing
and I hated being set apart from my friends in that way. I am well
aware now, of course, that the tutoring was just what I needed and
allowed me to use my intellect and see reading and writing as tools
rather than as impossibilities. I was able to go one to be one of the
smart kids. My mom was of a generation who grew up long before
disabilities were understood, and though she is very intelligent, she
has always thought of herself as stupid, in large part because she
not read until very late.
When I read your concerns about your daughter, these thoughts went
through my head: 1) I wish I'd had intervention earlier. By the third
grade, all my friends were reading but I was not and I felt stupid. It
was hard work to learn, and just as hard to shake off the self image of
being stupid. I'm using that harsh word because it was a reality for
me. 2) I recently heard an elementary school teacher describe third
grade as the point when kids are no longer learning to read, but
reading to learn. It's a pretty critical turning point, and if you
your daughter may be behind at that point. 3) If it's a reasonably
short-term intervention and you can afford it, why not? Almost all of
the kids are learning to read in first grade.
Your daughter will be learning in her own way, but at the same time.
loves to read
I know it is hard to believe the reading specialists, but what they are
saying is based on the research done at the Yale School of Medicine by
Dr. Sally Shaywitz. She is the author of ''Overcoming
Dyslexia''--definitely read it. The brain imaging done at Yale supports
what they are telling you. Here is the catch. You can't really tell if
someone is dyslexic without the brain imaging, but if they are and the
interventions are not done early there are dire consequences (very
throughly documented at Yale). It sounds like you developed at a slower
pace and perhaps that is true of your daughter, but why take the
If she is dyslexic and does not get the intervention early she will
struggle her whole life (although even those who get late intervention
can make improvements and be successful it is painful--also well
documented by Yale). My daughter had a 9 month reading intervention in
2nd grade, and it was amazing. She now reads at a 6th grade level in
grade and her whole personality changed.
I understand. Good Luck
You may be right, that it's too soon to label your daughter as
deficient. I simply couldn't learn to read more than a handful of short
words until January of first grade. My mom was alarmed because her
children wre reading before kindergarten. She had read to me constantly
and even used flashcards. Then suddenly I took off with reading and
never looked back. The doctor told my mom that it was probably just
a certain kind of neurological connection had occurred.
My limited experience as a volunteer in Albany public schools is that
first through third grade, English-speaking students vary widely in
their ability to read and write, but pretty much everyone's reached at
least the same level of basics by fourth grade. Some of the most fluent
readers and writers in first grade don't stay so far ahead of the pack.
And academic standards have gotten higher and harder recently. Your
daughter may not really be far behind the average.
That said, don't give up the idea of using your school's reading
specialists. They are likely to know a lot about norms, brain
development, and different methods of teaching the brain different
things. This could be very helpful.
Your daughter sounds like my daughter did in first grade. I won't give
you all the year by year details but will tell you that during the
summer before 4th grade, my daughter's reading level tested almost two
years behind. In 4th grade, IEP resources were finally made available
her. At one point I asked a resource specialist how my daughter had
doing so well. She said, it's because she's so bright that her ability
to comprehend compensated for the words she was missing. My daughter
always loved books on tape but has never liked to read. This might have
been different had she had help earlier.
When my daughter was in 6th grade, I found out that in elementary
she thought she was dumb because she couldn't read. Her self-esteem was
She is now in 7th grade and doing very well. She has just been through
the IEP retest process. She no longer qualifies for IEP though she will
get 504 accomodation (i.e., more time for taking tests).
I would take the help now. You could wait and your daughter could be
just fine by the end of third grade. On the other hand, is getting
help now going to hurt her? My daughter's story tells you the impact of
waiting if it's not developmental. A possible middle ground would be to
see how she's doing in December of her 2nd grade year. I would not wait
longer than that.
Mom who wishes she had pushed harder earlier
Dear skeptic. Your daughter is lucky to have concerned parents. I can't
speak to what your friends have told you (maybe they are a bit too
optimistic) but I can tell you about my own experience. I was dxed with
dyslexia at the same age as your daughter. My mother picked up on it
had to convince my school to get me tested (1976/77 - there was less
support then). I showed poor eye hand coordination, had trouble
following a line on a page, reversing some words, poor reading
comprehension, and terrible spelling. Also, my math skills were
(word problems, etc). My parents opted for intensive after school
education with a local university special ed program and resource
teaching two hours out of the day until 6th grade. The end result was,
by the time I was in 7th grade, my reading comprehension testing was 95
% for my age and all of the other skills had improved so I stopped
I'm so glad my parents addressed the problem then, instead of waiting.
doubt my reading comprehension problem would have reversed itself. I
can't imagine what it would have been like getting that kind of intense
after school/ in school help later on in life (pre teen/teen years)
kids label each other and your peers opinions are so important. As I
older (6/7th grade) I started to resist the after school program - I
threatened to quit because I wanted to hang out with my friends. So,
what I'm trying to say is take advantage of your child's developmental
age. 6.5 is an easy age to work with (eager to learn).
Later, I had problems in college chemistry, physics (word problems!),
statistic's, and advanced scientific journal articles. Luckily my
learning disability was already acknowledged and I was able to get
extended time on exams - which saved me - I was able to reread things
and move methodically threw exams. Also, I learned how to take exams
read journals via special resource classes. It's hard to know what's
best for your family, but I think I benefited from my parents swift
Anyway, what do you have too loose? You may just have to let go of your
notions/ resistance and accept this for what it is and move forward.
Your child will be better off for it. Good luck!
This is not advice, but just some experience sharing. I have a daughter like yours --
6.5 years old and in 1st grade. We finally had her tested for dyslexia in January and
started her in tutoring immediately. While I am confident she would achieve a
''normal'' speed at reading and writing in time, our issue was more with her self-
confidence. At her public school it was obvious to her that her reading was not up to
par, though she did not qualify for state assistance. The teachers tried to stay
positive, but were worried about her progress in the coming years. What pushed us
finally to testing and tutoring was that she began criticizing herself on matters not
related to reading, she stopped wanting to try new things because she knew she would
fail, etc. She dreaded school (even from KG -- can you imagine a kid not wanting to go
to KG?). Just broke our hearts. As much as we tried, we found we were not able to
tutor her successfully with reading, and pretty soon our pep talks had no effect
either. The tutoring has made an enormous difference. In three months her reading has
improved 200% (no exaggeration here) -- but more importantly -- her self confidence
has soared with reading and beyond! I interviewed a number of tutors, and found
someone I felt would match her temperament. We travel well out to Alamo from North
Berkeley twice a week, I have had to make changes to my full time work schedule, but I
would not give it up for one minute. As for us, my husband and I and our other
daughter (they are twins) picked up reading quickly and easily at early ages -- my
husband attended public school (in Japan) and me a spartan little Catholic school in
Sacramento. We frame our one daughter's struggle with reading as one of those unique
individual differences between the girls and they accept it. Good luck and drop a
line if you want to chat!
Good grief! Your story conveys just one of a myriad of reasons why people choose to
homeschool! It is not just hippies and fundamentalist Christians anymore; it is people
in the mainstream, lots of them! Lately it seems that they are running away from the
school system in droves. I read stories such as yours and it is clear why this is
happening. I won't go on any further about homeschooling since this may not be an
option for you, but I had to open with this statement since it speaks to your story so
directly. Children all learn to walk, talk, read, write, run, climb, sing, etc., at
various paces. One child is reading at three, but has severe difficulties in social
situations. Another doesn't really read fluently until they are seven, but they have a
special grace when dealing with others.
One child can hit a ball with a bat when they are three, another cannot at seven. Is
there something wrong with any of these children? Is the younger child most certainly
gifted, and the older child deficient? No, of course not, they are unique in their
abilities and in their interests, and in my opinion, no one should assume that a child
is either gifted or deficient by using age as their guide. The people you speak of
assume that this is the case with your daughter. Hmm, 1st grade and not reading...must
be something wrong with her.
I'm long winded- see part two for remainder of my post.
Happy to be homeschooling
Most likely the only problem that your child has is she does not fit into the box that
the school system wants (needs) her to fit into. How can they possibly educate the
masses if not everyone it reading at the same age, same grade, same time? And let's
not forget the new mantra, "No Child Left Behind." I can't tell you how much it
angered me to read some of the erroneous information that they were telling you. I
applaud you for being savvy enough to question them, and to place this post on BPN. It
angers and it saddens me deeply to think of all the parents out there that don't think
to question the educational authority. They just blindly follow the so-called experts
in education at the expense of their child's self-esteem and quality of life as a
child. At a time in your daughter's life when she could be experiencing the wonders of
the world around her, and learning the "joy" of learning, she is getting the message
that there is something wrong with her, that she doesn't fit in, and that she needs
special intervention so she doesn't fall behind. I just can't express just how wrong,
even twisted, this thinking is. I could go on about this, but I think I have conveyed
what I needed to.
I wish you and your family a great life together, and I hope that you find the
strength of mind to follow your intellectual and mothering instincts.
Better Late than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education" Raymond S. Moore,
Dennis R. Moore, and Dorothy N.
"Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education"
John Taylor Gatto (Not a pleasant read if you think that government-run schools have
your child's best interest in mind.)
Happy to be homeschooling
We are looking into getting an evaluation at UCB's Binocular
Vision Clinic. We suspect our child may have dyslexia
(mainly because of spelling), but are not looking to vision
therapy as a ''cure'', just to confirm that eyes are working
together, etc. Our child reads pretty well, but will sometimes
leave out small words or leaves the plural or past tense
endings off of words. There was a recent complaint about
headaches when looking through binoculars or scopes.
Does anyone have any experience with vision therapy at all
or with dyslexic children? I know if one is going to consider
this it is important that the test are ''near-point vision tests'',
but there seems to be a big difference in the amount of
therapy the university clinic suggests if the child needs it (six
45 minute sessions -more could be added), to 30 - 40
sessions on average and from the beginning with private
developmental optometrists. Am I comparing apples to
oranges? I recently read a report by the Academy of
Pediatrics about vision therapy in relation to dyslexia. It
essentially just said it was not a cure for it. Is it detrimental
in any way for a dyslexic to undergo this type of therapy? Any
experience with vision therapy and UCB's Binocular Vision
Clinic/ suggestions helpful. Thanks.
To the parent who posted a message about Vision Therapy/Dyslexia:
I took my dyslexic son to UCB's Vision center for 2-sessions.
They noted that he did have some problems with binocular vision
and we worked on the ''eye-excercises'' for awhile. It did not
really have an effect, positive or negative, on his vision in
general or help with any aspect of his dyslexia.
We have him at Raskob Day School for LD students in Oakland and
he has made the most progress ever, there. We also pay for an
educational therapist to help him with reading and writing. These
two things alone have made a big difference and great improvement
with his reading and writing. He is still somewhat behind, but
enjoys reading and has progressed from building sentences and
paragraphs to building reports. He still needs help with writing
organization and continues to have problems with dysgraphia but
it is getting better. We felt that it was important to keep his
self-esteem intact so we worked with him as much as possible to
find things he wanted to read: comic books, graphic novels, and
since he is into video games-related magazines and books. He is
happy and considers reading a hobby!
Proud Mother of a Dyslexic
I am a special educator with many years of experience
diagnosing reading disabilities. Since you don't say how old
your child is, I can't tell you what your child should be doing
at his/her age. But, what you are describing - leaving out a
few words or omitting word endings a) isn't dyslexia and b)
isn't that unusual for younger children.
Dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or
fluent word recognition, decoding (sounding words out) and
spelling. A person who has dyslexia has difficulty with
phonological awareness - that's the awareness that a word is
made up of different sounds. Like -cat- - its different sounds
are C - A - and T. In order to sound out the word -cat,- you
have to be able to break it down into its separate sounds and
then put it back together as one sound (and then realize that
the combined sounds form a word that has meaning - all that for
such a simple 3 letter word!). Generally, people with dyslexia
do not learn to read unless they have had training in
phonological awareness and reading instruction that is
Since you know that your child is omitting words and errors, I
am assuming that s/he is reading aloud to you (which is GREAT
and should be encouraged as much as possible). Reading itself
is a complicated process of recognizing sounds or words and
then assigning meaning to each word (and remembering the word
you just read while you are reading another word and then
ascertaining the meaning of a string of words?). In addition to
all of that, reading ALOUD requires that the reader read the
current word and say it out loud while simultaneously looking
ahead to other words. The looking ahead often causes the reader
to skip a word or a string of words, especially when the reader
is still learning to read aloud. Having to say the word also
impacts the reader's fluency.
The next time your child makes an omission while reading to
you, gently offer a correction (and ask that it be reread
correctly). Continue on this way until the reading is over, and
then have a discussion about what kinds of things you notice
about his/her reading. The discussion should be mostly positive
but can also be constructive. You want to keep your child
reading to you so avoid being overly critical. Also, try and
ascertain if your child is aware of these omissions and if they
interfere with comprehension.
If you still think your child has a reading disability, then
discuss it with his/her teacher to determine if s/he should be
evaluated. As for the vision therapy, you need first to
determine if there really is a problem with your child's
reading before you embark on anything corrective.
I am a school and clinical psychologist, and I have assessed
hundreds of children with reading disabilities. I have worked
with children who, indeed, have been through UCB's Binocular
Vision Clinic. What parents typically have reported to me is
that the treatment (eye exercises) are successful in improving
the degree to which the eyes move in conjunction with one
another and that this results in less fatigue and somewhat more
efficiency during reading. In general, parents have been
pleased with the experience there. I also have spoken with
educational therapists who sing the praises of Dr. Grisham, who
heads up the clinic there(I have not personally worked with
him). You are right though that the eye exercises are not
a ''cure'' for dyslexia. Most of the children I see have had the
treatment several years earlier and are still struggling with
reading, hence the evaluation by me to determine how they are
processing and what might be the best course for tutoring or
My child had excellent results at the binocular vision clinic --
and her reading really took off after the vision training. In
her case, she had phonemic awareness type skills, was very
aware of sounds, had interest in stories, and the patience to
practice, but I realized that she wasn't reading as well as
you'd expect for a kid who knew as much about language as she
did (She was at grade level in second grade, but her contextual
reading skills were much better than her decoding skills.) It
did turn out to be a visual process problem, and she also has
some fine motor problems as well. Obviously, vision therapy
doesn't solve everything, but it is a good place to start.
Also, the clinic is not like a private therapist -- they don't
need your ''business,'' so there is no motivation for keeping
your child in therapy any longer than they need to be there.
Once my child tested as in the normal range the therapy was
over, though we are on a schedule of six-month follow-ups to
make sure the training is holding. Now, about 8 months after
the end of the training, her reading is fluent -- she reads the
newspaper and whatever else of ours catches her interest(an
article on urban play-spaces from a professional journal that
was on the kitchen table.) Reading difficulties are very
complex, and you need to be aware of your child's strengths and
weaknesses -- in many ways you are the expert, and you are
hiring other people for technical assistance. So, the therapy
is expensive (as is the kit), but if your child needs it,
vision therapy at least as performed at the binocular vision
clinic, is invaluable.
parent of a reader
this page was last updated: Nov 26, 2010
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