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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Could it be Dyslexia?

Since last Friday here is what's on my mind... its taking me a while to process the teacher's concern and reality.

Scott's Hebrew Class was assigned roles during service. Scott opted out of a reading role and chose a silent role. I know he is behind on reading so it's no surprise to me. After service the Sunday School teacher pulled me aside to express her concern over "Scott's reading deficiency and something about home-tutored." Her words. Maybe she didn't know I was aware that he didn't read well. I accepted her concerns and thanked her for her interest. I asked her if his behavior was a problem. Nope. Whew. I never approached the teachers before to ask about Scott's performance because according to both boys this is their best year ever. Something must be going right.

I asked her what she would do about it. Evaluation? Resources etc...? She said she never calls on him to read. (Couldn't she call on him to read the headlines or chapter, everyone gets a turn on their level?)

I've been thinking a lot about this. Sunday morning, I thought to ask his other Hebrew teacher how his Hebrew language is coming a long. I was prepared to hear the worst. She said that actually he is at or above level in all areas in her class. She said he sounds out his words and doesn't just memorize. She said that was an ability other kids lacked. She said he brought information and insight to class that he didn't get from the Temple.

Interestingly, the other teacher, said the same thing about William, last year. That he often gave information that he learned elsewhere (Hello, we are homeschooled!) But she often pointed out fine motor skills (like in crafts) were poor because he didn't go to school. I wondered why she just didn't show him how to hold the scissor or crayon or whatever they were working on. I'm not good at that stuff either. William seemed to learn to read and write overnight when he was 8.

Anyway, back to Scott. Regardless of the assessments by the teachers he is behind on reading, but not comprehension. He loves being read to. We are reading a Junior Version of Moby Dick now. Prior to our our annual evaluation, we finished Hooked on Phonics and he obviously made daily progress and that was where we were at in August. Since the eval, we continue to read, puzzles, and play games (he has mastered Mancala and I can't beat him anymore), but I never expected how painful it would be to teach a child to read. First William, Now Scott. But Scott is older than William was when he finally caught on. William is doing well.

I was recently reminded of a very close blood relative who has dyslexia. It's been haunting me. Are the signs STARING me in the face? It sure looks like it.

I know, I know... someone wants to blame it on his being "home-tutored." (The term gave me a chuckle.) But I won't fall for that. Don't even dare comment on it. It's easy to feel like you deserve the bad parent award for not having a child reading at college level. If he has dyslexia, he would have had it anywhere he he was in school and probably would have been held back and made fun of, etc... At least at home he is allowed to excel in other areas and not be compared.

I searched on-line for some resources. It is amazing on this vast web I can't find a test that a parent could administer to the child. It's not the first time I looked, but I wasn't convinced before and didn't persist. But I did find a book called "Dyslexia is a Gift." Looks like it talks about taking advantage of the dyslexics strengths in creativity and auditory skills while providing the right tools and suggestions for learning how to read. It sounds like a positive approach. Sounds like a homeschool approach. Sounds like good information no matter what the diagnosis or cause for reading impairment.

I found a list of suggested books for dyslexics of interest to a boy his age, normal, popular stories, but also easier read the print for anyone needing special help with reading with good spacing and short paragraphs, lack of left justification, beige, matt finished pages, and simple fonts. Without an official diagnosis, it sounds like I found some great resources for a pre-teen who has trouble reading and perhaps we can make some progress. Hooked on Phonics is great, but really is for an early grader learning to read.

What kind of specialist evaluates this and makes a diagnosis? Does anyone have local resources? Is it helpful to have an official "diagnosis" in this case. What other problem could it be (stubborn (maybe?), ADH ( I don't think so))?(I'm just thinking out loud). I don't think he is visually impaired (his aim on video games is way to good), but I can get his eyes checked. He can read our office eye charts just fine.

David is five. Don't kids read at five? Please, can I have one son who picks reading up quickly??


Anonymous said...

I've searched high and low and yes, we came across Dyslexia is a Gift too. We took that book a step further and participated in the program talked about in that book - suffice it to say, major failure after dropping big bucks. We don't mind the $$ because I'd always wonder, "what if" if we didn't exhaust every avenue. But once you spend it and realize it was a failure, it takes a chunk out of you.

That said, here's a resource for you: We started it and ideally, he would have been younger when starting this program; but at least we found it!

Do your research and see what you think.

Anonymous said...

I have that Davis book, and a few others. Not sure if my son is dyslexic - didn't get him evaluated because about the same time I started to seriously look into it he started reading way better. Just after his 8th birthday. reversals, etc are supposed to be 'normal' through 2nd grade so we arent concerned about those just yet either.

I am a Monkey's Mama said...

A speech language pathologist could easily assess and diagnose what is going on.

Good luck!

crispy said...

I am sorry to hear that reading is a struggle. I can only imagine how that one thing can become a huge frustration. I have a homeschool friend that has a son whose son has been diagnosed with dyslexia and they are making slow but steady progress. I am going to pass on your blog post so she can see she is not alone.

jandkmoon said...

Crispy passed on a link to your blog. After my son struggling with reading in our homeschool, I finally realized he is dyslexic at the end of last year and we are finally doing something about it. I've educated myself on dyslexia-especially the science behind it (I have a strong science background- PhD in molecular genetics). It is a genetic disorder, so the fact that you have dyslexia in your family tree is a strong indicator. A great book that goes into the brain differences in dyslexics is called "Overcoming Dyslexia" by Sally Shaywitz, a doctor and NIH researcher. But something you can do right now is go to the Bright Solutions for dyslexia website (don't have the link, just Google for it), and watch the 3 hour free webcast called: Dyslexia, signs, symptoms and solutions. You will learn SO much, including warning signs, what won't work (she mentions the Davis method), and the method of teaching reading that has been shown through research at 18 separate NIH research centers to be the best way to teach a dyslexic to read. It's a long webcast to watch, but I just paused and minimized it over the course of a few days, and it helped me understand my son tremendously! We are currently using the Orton-Gillingham method to teach my son to read (and spell), and he's made great progress in a short time. My husband has dyslexia, and he did learn to read in a public school. Though it was never easy, he finally figured out a way to compensate for his difficulty and learn to read. But, school was painful for him, and to this day he is a slow reader (hates to read) and a horrible speller. But, it hasn't stopped him from becoming incredibly successful in his business life. Dyslexics have a gift of seeing the world differently and thinking out of the box (Einstein, da Vinci, Walt Disney, Edison).

Permission to Mother said...

Thanks for all the great information. Here is another really cool resource a 2nd grade teacher sent me.

The filters reduce glare and I had some similar color dividers laying around. It seemed to add interest with Scott's reading today. I'm looking foward to reading through all the resources and I'll give an update soon.

hayesatlbch-visualdyslexiasolution said...

It may be best to first consider that dyslexia ,in general, may be looked at as a multiple deficit condition where the dyslexic may need help with 1,2,3 or more specific problem areas.

Your description doesn't suggest any auditory,phonological or language processing problems which statistically are the most common dyslexia problems. Many dyslexics have problems hearing the differences in sounds (auditory) associating sounds with letters (phonological) or language processing problems (comprehension). Dyslexics with these problems can often be identified even before school by speech and communication problems.

There have been research indications of what could be called word formation problems as a problem for some dyslexics and something similar is hinted at with your description and so practice putting together the sounds in words together may help.

People like Ron Davis "Dyslexia the Gift" who use a single deficit theory of dyslexia are fated to miss the mark for many dyslexics. His theory that dyslexics think in pictures may be true for some dyslexics but in my personal opinion at best a minority. You will see about an equal # of good and bad reviews on the web with his method.

In general, Single Deficit Theories are associated with costly interventions, high failure rates and no financial guarantees.

My niche is visual dyslexia and there are indications that Scott may be visually dyslexic. Your comment about his ability with video games as an indication of his problem not being visual misses the mark because visual dyslexia problems are on a smaller scale.

Children can be difficult to diagnose as visually dyslexic. They tend to assume that what they see is normal.

Being more fluent with easier to read print would be an indication of having visual problems. Most dyslexics with non visual problems don't show improvement with easier to read print because it doesn't address their problems.

Increasing print size may be helpful for the visual dyslexic. Some visual dyslexics don't have problems with print until print size is reduced in about the third grade.

You might want to look at for info about visual dyslexia.

SillyGooseMama said...

I find this list an invaluable resource!

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

My understanding of Waldorf education is that they don't bother to try to teach reading to kids until they're 7 or more. Personally, I think that public schools are being pushed to teach things to kids before they're developmentally ready. I wouldn't be concerned about your 5 year old at this point. Schools try to teach 5 year olds to read, but they often don't get it right away. I think the comprehension part is far more important. If the other kids in the class CAN read, but don't understand what they're reading, what's the point?

ScienceGeek said...

I've been wondering how your search for answers in the dyslexia realm has been going. I can relate to how hard it is to watch your child struggle to learn to read, especially when your an avid reader yourself and you know the pleasure that can be found in reading. (I left a previous comment here as Jandkmoon)

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