Making a Difference, One Person at a Time.
|Posted on May 24, 2016 at 8:15 AM||comments (16)|
Our grandson has struggled since kindergarten with understanding letters as well as reading in general. His mother knew something was wrong and talked with his teacher several times. The explanation she received was that sometimes boys take longer to read and therefore nothing was unusual. As he started 1st grade
the same problem persisted and again she was told the same thing. Your son will learn in time. Now the suggestion was that he needed to practice reading more at home with his parents. Every night they read and worked with him with virtually no improvement. He studied spelling words every night and tried to memorize the letters rather then trying to read the words so this also affected his vocabulary. This went on year after year as we watched our grandson become more withdrawn and less interested in anything. Not knowing what to do, the administration placed him in Special Education classes during his 3rd grade year. He was very embarrassed that he was now being pulled out of his classroom to go to Special Ed. Still nothing was done to try and help him with his reading and depression set in many times. He would tell his parents that he just had fewer answers to choose from and still wondered why he could not read the books his friends could read. He told us once that he couldn’t get good grades so he must be dumb and that was the way it was going to be. There were times when he would just give up and lay on the floor and cry that he just couldn’t do it (homework). His parents and us (his grandparents) would tell him that he needed to try harder and take more time to practice his reading. He would completely shut down and not say a word to anybody. Those were the most difficult times for any of his family to watch. He became so depressed at that he didn’t want to do or say anything.
As he was being pushed to the next grade every year still without being able to read much above a 2nd grade level, he finally was given a miracle, Miss Melissa Garretson. She was a teacher that took the time to work with him and his parents to find the problem. After much discussion and work she told his parents that she believed he had dyslexia and recommended he be tested. There was relief for his parents that maybe there was finally going to be an answer. He was taken to Chicago for many hours of testing and was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. A month later he started his tutoring using the Barton Reading & Spelling system. He has worked for two years with his tutor and the improvement in his grades have been remarkable. He is now 15 years old and has become more confident with himself and grown into a good student and fine athlete. His friends have even talked about how much he has changed in the last two years. He is enjoying life like never before and we feel we finally have our wonderful grandson back after years of watching him sink into the depths. The diagnosis of his severe dyslexia gave him a future to look forward to. How great it would have been if someone would have been trained in finding this problem back in 1st grade. The years that were wasted have been a hard pill for all of us to swallow. We will be forever grateful to Miss Garretson for having the desire and knowledge to help our grandson get his life back.
|Posted on May 24, 2016 at 8:10 AM||comments (12)|
I would like to share our dyslexia story in hopes that it will raise awareness of the need 20%, or 1 in5 of all children in school have for recognition and help in their education; and with that awareness, change how public education and educators are enabled to help these children.
Aaron was born in 2002, the 11th child in our family of 13. He was a beautiful baby with big, blue eyes, dark hair, and curly eyelashes. How we loved his sweet baby ways, and as he grew, watching his own special gifts and talents develop.
Aaron loved music, and could hum back any tune and add his own words to the familiar hymns we sang together. He loved animals, and outdoors, running and playing, and doing puzzles, which he could do faster than me.
And then we started school. Until his 8th grade year this year, I homeschooled Aaron. I had always used a phonics based approach to reading, and this is where I first saw that Aaron was different. It was a simple, progressive program that had worked well for my other children, but no matter how many times we did a lesson, it was like he had never seen it before the next day. Words and letters and sounds seemed to have no connection and only be repeating over and over and rote memorization, was Aaron able to learn to read. Even then it was choppy and oh so hard for him. Writing? Even worse. Although he learned how to form the letters he could not spell. He loved to be read to and could easily comprehend a story, but he could not put his own thoughts on paper. This was a source of daily frustration for both of us. We struggled on. He excelled at math, doing a lot of the work in his head and getting it right, but unable to do it easily on paper. What was wrong?????
I shared my frustrations with another mom, and she told me, “maybe he has dyslexia”.Dyslexia? What’s that? Never heard of it. Her son went to public school, and did very poorly. I’m not sure where she heard of dyslexia, but the school did not recognize it unless she would have him privately tested at their expense, which they did. She was then able to convince the school to use some book fair money to purchase a SusanBarton program for dyslexia, and they provided an aide to tutor him at school. It made a huge difference for him. Hmmm….
Back to Aaron. We often went to the Morton Public Library where I began to see notices posted for a dyslexia support group meeting and decided to go. I met the tutor, Melissa, and after some time and several other discussions and research on my own, decided to try tutoring.
By this time, Aaron had low self-confidence and often said, “I’m so dumb”, which broke my heart! I could not convince him otherwise. He did not want to go to tutoring. I’m sure it was out of fear of exposing his weakness to yet another person. I gave him no choice, and we went.
He didn’t want me to leave him, so I sat through the first few months with him. Eventually, I sat outside the room where he could see me, and as he progressed and began to be more comfortable and confident, I stayed at the library or ran short errands. He blazed through his sessions, working so hard! Aaron, by nature, has a bulldog like tenaciousness at a task if he likes it, and a mind that was always grasping at the how and whys of the way things worked.
Finally, he had a key to the how and why of language, and it was like opening a prison door and setting him free!!
He went to public school for the first time this year and he has amazed me! From hardly being able to write a sentence, to all A’s this past 9 weeks, and I know without a doubt that if he hadn’t gotten the key to unlock the mysteries of language to him through an Orton-Gillingham based tutoring program, and having one of the best tutors in the world, Aaron would not have had the chance he needed to show himself and believe himself that he’s not, “Just so dumb.”
There are ever so many other Aaron’s out there, struggling, sinking, crying out for help. They need our support as parents and educators, to give them the help and the tools they need. It has made such a difference for us.
|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 11:25 PM||comments (2)|
Jared began Kindergarten excited! He was able to ride the big bus and see his brother at school. He loved the social aspect! It wasn't long before he didn't want to get on the bus and got off the bus crying- he hated school. It was devastating to see my son who was so bright and excited to learn come home and tell me he was stupid...at 5 years old.
We would practice letters M-R-S-T over and over every chance we got...he just couldn't get it, I never saw a kid try so hard- he was paying attention, he still loved to be read to, he loved to color and do other kindergarten activities....however he COULD NOT reliably tell me any letters with consistency. He attended school all day, we practiced letters for at least 1 hour a night and he was read to every day. Sometimes we woke up an hour early to practice more....surely practicing more would help- right?
I met with his teacher and was told he wasn't trying, and to be perfectly honest- I was not impressed with this teacher. She described him as lazy, not trying, not paying attention and sometimes he was a distraction when he waved at his brother in the hallway.....This is the only teacher in Jared's academic career so far that I can say that about. Eventually I met with the principal and the teacher and told them if this wasn't a good fit, we would need to move Jared from her class, a 5 year old shouldn't come home crying daily because his teacher was mean. The situation changed enough at that point he stopped crying. To this day he remembers that teacher and how she made him feel. If I had it to do over again- I would have moved him. The emotional damage this women caused is still carried to this day.
Jared made slight progress by the end of the year- in hindsight- he memorized enough books to improve test scores. He was pulled out for reading throughout kindergarten, yet had no 504 or IEP. We repeated phonics, we practiced AR books, he took a computer based reading program- yet wasn't catching on. We made the decision to place him in Transitional First- a class for those who needed to repeat kindergarten or for new kindergarten students who were closer to first grade.
While today I believe this was a mistake in some ways - retaining him did not help him learn to read, write or spell...it was a blessing in another way...We found Mrs. Clifford- the most amazing teacher. She recognized something was wrong, yet she didn't know what. What she did do was build Jared's self esteen back up....she made him love going to school again. To this day he will tell you Mrs. Clifford is his favorite teacher.
Maya Angelou — 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'
|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 11:20 PM||comments (1)|
Danny has always hated school because he could not read and spell. No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t get it. He was finally put in an IEP program after his 1st grade year after we said there would be NO RETENTION. He did catch up some and was put into reading recovery. Still day to day, Danny hated school. He just hated it and tried every excuse not to go, however, we made him go and make every effort. While he was making some progress, he seemed to be still some steps behind. Not until 6th grade and his 6th grade teacher, Melissa Garretson, did things change! She noticed his problem and offered help! He started tutoring twice a week with her using the Susan Barton reading and spelling program. WOW! In a short time, his grades started to improve and Danny’s confidence started to grow. And, we were very happy to see B’s and C’s on his report card. Danny continued tutoring over the summer. Danny was nervous to start 7th grade. But 2 weeks into school he said to me that, and I quote, “I love school, it is fun, and I want to get there early every day!” That was music to my ears. Tears came to my eyes because there have been days when getting Danny out the door to school were beyond difficult!
The other day, I was reminded about Power School, and how we can check our kids’ grades (twice a day if we wanted to). I never checked, because I knew it would not be good, so I got the point where I forgot Power School existed. With hesitation and my eyes half closed, I checked Danny’s grades. WHAT!?! Straight A’s??? Did I type his name wrong? Straight A’s, WOW! I put my head down on my desk and cried. Progress! Finally! Progress that Danny feels. I am proud of his hared work! Even though he does not like going to tutoring at times, LOOK AT WHAT IT HAS DONE!
|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 11:15 PM||comments (1)|
Then came Maya! Last year was a struggle for Maya in Kindergarten Maya's teacher noticed she was struggling to focus on education materials and looked lost or confused, but again was a bright kid. Her teacher was nervous about her not having pre-reading skills she would need for 1st grade and struggling to memorize her alphabet. She didn't know the sounds of alphabet, and could not hear or make the sounds verbally. Her teacher was thinking retaining could help. I was not a big fan of that as I was retained as a kid and still struggled. I didn't want to retain Maya I wanted to get her help for her Dyslexia and I was willing to trust in the Barton program. I had faith Maya would be ok if she was getting help from a Dyslexia professional.
In December of her Kindergarten year I asked her teacher if she thought it could all be from dyslexia and if maybe she couldn't focus because she was dyslexic. Her teacher didn't know anything about dyslexia. So, once again I reached out to Ms. Garretson. Dyslexia is hereditary so we knew Maya was most likely dyslexic. We started the LIPS program and did a screening for dyslexia as Maya was only 5 years old at the time it was to young to fully test and screen her but I wasn't giving up I wanted to start helping her ASAP! Mrs. Cooper started the lips program and Learning to Write Without Tears app! Maya successful completed the programs and we sent her to first grade. I know Maya will be ok and successful with the help of her tutor Mrs. Cooper! Maya is doing great this year. She knows all the alphabet sounds and visually she knows them too! She is using the Susan Barton dyslexia program with Mrs. Cooper three days a week in school at BSS, which is s private school. And two days a week goes to the resource teacher who partners with Mrs. Cooper on what will be beneficial to Maya.
Today both my kids are improving through the Barton program, which is an Orton Gillingham program.
Having Dyslexia is hard to understand but it is real. I am living with it and so are my two kids!
|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 11:10 PM||comments (4396)|
Isabelle was diagnosed in 2nd grade after I noticed reading, writing and spelling was hard for her. I noticed and I wanted better for her as Istruggled with all three things too as a kid. The school was not overly concerned as she was a bright kid and was succeeding in everything else at school. I would ask the teacher each year if they were noticing her struggling to read and they would tell me just read to her more....read, read read they would say. I heard often some kids don't read until 3 or 4th grade. My heart was telling me there was more going on.
I saw on FB through a friend a post on dyslexia so I clicked on the link to the Bright Solution’s website and watched the three videos, looked through the warning signs and definitions and just cried as I knew this was what I had. What made it so emotional is I wish I could of had the label, resources, accommodations, and tutors to help me through my personal struggle.
It's hard to go through life feeling lazy, not smart, like something isn't clicking but nobody knows why. I didn't want that for Isabelle. After realizing I had dyslexia I reached out to Melissa Garettson to help me and guide me so we together could give Isabelle s better life!
After testing and screening Isabelle was diagnosed with Dyslexia and is doing so much better with the help of her tutor Mrs. Cooper, who tutors her in our private school two days a week for an hour each day and throughout the summer. Isabelle is thriving and I am blessed that BSS allows the tutor into the building during school hours so Isabelle can be a "normal" kid after school! After school she has time to play and do extra activities.
The biggest struggle for us these days is getting teachers educated and to fully understand dyslexia and the accommodations which are needed to help Isabelle's successes. Each year I have to start over and explain Isabelle's story and what dyslexia is and isn't and what she needs to succeed. Dyslexia is very had to understand unless you live it!
|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 11:00 PM||comments (1)|
My son Brody's story is very similar to Lauren's. As he was learning to read in the second half of his kindergarten year it was like deja vu. He couldn't retain words page to page, guessed at words based on pictures, and could not sound out the words however he knew all of his sounds individually. I wanted to test him immediately but it was recommended not to test until the age of 6 so we waited out the rest of school year until the end of May when he turned 6.
In April of that school year , the school recommended to retain him but couldn't give me any specifics as to why. They said he just seemed uninterested in school. When I asked the teacher if she thought it could be dyslexia she said she really didn't know anything about it so couldn't say. If I would have accepted their recommendation he would have repeated kindergarten for a second time and still be at the same reading level he ended at his first time through. The lack of knowledge on the sign and symptoms of dyslexia in the school is truly frustrating. I was looking to them as experts in education to provide direction and recognize what was going on. They had no clue! It was and still is extremely frustrating that teachers lack education and recognizing dyslexia.
If I hadn't already experienced having a child with dyslexia and recognized it, I would have retained Brody for no benefit to him and would have been in the same position a year later wondering why he couldn't read. Brody completed his testing end of May and it resulted the same as Lauren's and he too immediately started tutoring in the Orton Gillingham based system twice a week throughout the summer and then after school. At the time I felt a great sense of relief finally knowing what was going on with them both and having them on a path to address it.
However, I had no idea of the continual battles I would face with the school. I thought I had done their homework for them, I provided the answer and things will be simple. We will complete a 504 and document the accommodations each of them needed and the teacher would follow them. I was very naive and greatly disappointed by what I have experienced. Lauren did receive a 504 upon my request due to her substantially limited abilities in learning, reading, writing, and thinking. She initially received the accommodations requested and recommended by the tutor but at the end of 2nd grade the school changed all of the accommodations to have the words "as needed" at the end of each of them. This defeated the whole purpose of a 504 because it now allowed every teacher to give her accommodations at their discretion. Her current 3rd grade teacher openly admits she has no training or education on dyslexia but her discretion is being held to a higher standard then the recommended accommodations provided by her tutor. I asked how the school determined if an accommodation was needed or not in which they responded they use all formative assessments including observation, classwork, homework, quizzes, and tests to make instructional decisions. To me that translated to they used her academic performance on a daily basis to decided whether an accommodation would be provided or not.
Think of how confusing and frustrating this inconsistency day to day, teacher to teacher, school year to school year feels like to Lauren, Is the teacher going to scribe for me today? She did yesterday but didn't last week. Is the teacher going to read my test to me today? Maybe? Today I had to do all the math problems but yesterday I did only half. Lauren has made vast improvements in her ability to read accurately however the amountof energy she expends to read is 5 times as much as the average student.Her teachers and the administration don't view the additional effort required asan ongoing need for consistent accommodations. They would prefer to makeaccommodations on a whim when they notice her taking too long to complete work or performing poorly on an assignment. They also use her grades and MAPS against her. Because she typically scores high they don't believe accommodations are necessary because they don't understand the daily impact dyslexia has. I have actually opted her out of both the MAPS and PARCC testing the second half of this year so that data cannot continue to be used against her. Below is an excerpt from ADA that states that the school cannot use academic success as a reason to deny a student a 504 however it does not provide students any protection from grades being used to discriminate against them on the accommodations are documented and provided in the 504. "In passing the Amendments Act, the managers of the Senate bill rejected the assumption that an individual with a specific learning disability who performs well academically cannot be substantially limited in activities such as learning, reading, writing, thinking, or speaking. Thus, grades alone are an insufficient basis upon which to determine whether a student has a disability. Moreover, they may not be the determinative factor in deciding whether a student with a disability needs special education or related aids or services. Grades are just one consideration and do not provide information on how much effort or how many outside resources are required for the student to achieve those grades. Additionally, the Committee on Education and Labor in the House of Representatives cautioned that "an individual with an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity should not be penalized when seeking protection under the ADA simply because he or she managed their own adaptive strategies or received informal or undocumented accommodations that have the effect of lessening the deleterious impacts of their disability."
Brody's story on the other hand is worse. I was told he upon our first meeting to initiate a 504 with the administration they he met the criteria to be considered for a 504 but then told me they didn't see that his dyslexia was having academic impact based on some assessments they performed so he did not qualify at this time for accommodations. Again the school is using his academic success as the only measure in determining if he granted accommodations. It is extremely apparent that the school's administration and teachers do not understand dyslexia. Dyslexics in many cases do score well due to theiraverage to above average intelligence but this does not discount the daily impact their disability has on them.
They did however indicate his reading level was low and wanted to enroll him in RTI knowing he was dyslexic and receiving tutoring in an Orton Gillingham based system. If the school was educated they would know that the RTI interventions would not benefit someone with dyslexia and would only confuse him.
It is a constant daily battle to watch over what the school is and isn't providing my children. I have to continually educate, ask questions and provide reminders to my kid's teachers to ensure they are being provided the accommodations they should be receiving and often I have to go back and forth several times to explain over and over why certain accommodations are needed. It is exhausting! At home I deal tears, exhaustion and frustration from kids who are worn out but want to do that work and want to please. The school says they can't take into consideration the impact outside of school in providing accommodations! I will never stop fighting for my kids but I think about all those kids who don't have someone to fight for them, don't have the resources to get private tutoring, and the exponential number of dyslexic kids that are in our schools struggling everyday that have no idea they have it. They are kids that have been through RTI over and over, put in special education, told they were lazy, told to study more, ready to drop out and to give up.
1.Require all teachers at every grade level to complete education on signs and symptoms of dyslexia
2. Develop a standard screening process required to be administered to all 1st graders
3. Provide any child with dyslexia tutoring/small group services in an Orton Gillingham based system
4. Provide clear standards and protection to children with dyslexia seeking a 504 to ensure they receive accommodations they require. the accommodations should not be basedon academic success nor left to the discretion of each individual administrator teacher at each school.
Thank you for taking the time to read my children's story.
|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 11:00 PM||comments (1)|
When Lauren was in kindergarten and first grade I noticed as she was learning to read that she struggled to retain how to read words and sound them out. It was also very apparent that she used the pictures in books to guess words. She is a very intelligent little girl so it was hard for us as her parents to understand why she was having such a hard time learning to read and progress.
We met with Lauren's first grade teacher in November that year to discuss our concerns about her lack of progression and were told not to worry, reading clicks for everyone at different times. Her MAPS scores were high so the school would not address her struggles and test her for learning disabilities. In hindsight, the MAP scores were actually a big red flag. How could she score above average on her reading MAPS scores yet when read word "the" on one page of a book wouldn't have a clue how to read it on the next page of the same book. It didn't make sense!
I knew very little about dyslexia at the time but started to research it and wondered if that could be what was affecting her. I was told that the school only tests for learning disabilities and not specifically for dyslexia that it was a medical condition. I was then told by the her pediatrician's office that it was a learning disability and they don't test for it. At this point I felt discourage but needed an answer. I stumbled upon a dyslexia group in Morton and attended a meeting. I sat in the meeting as they talked about sign and symptoms of dyslexia and was more convinced then ever that dyslexia could be what was causing Lauren's struggles. After the meeting I called Melissa Garretson, the leader of the awareness group and a certified dyslexia testing specialist to schedule an appointment. I completed an initial interview which indicated it was high probable Lauren could be dyslexic.
We scheduled Lauren to go through the series of tests required at our own expense and the results indicated she was indeed dyslexic with severity level of moderate to severe. She immediately started one on one tutoring in the Susan Barton Orton Gillingham system with a certified consultant. An Orton Gillingham system is the only scientifically proven instruction method to work for dyslexia. The school district did not and still does not provide an Orton Gillingham based instruction method so Lauren must attend tutoring after school twice a week at our own expense. Tutoring is a very significant cost especially when I have two children who require this assistance. We are fortunate to be able to afford to pay for this tutoring but I would say the average person is not. Also, there is no tax deduction/credit available for a service the schools should be providing with the tax dollars I'm paying.
|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 10:50 PM||comments (1)|
Our official journey with dyslexia came when our son, Sage, was 8 years old in 3rd grade. Although now that we understand what dyslexia is, we look back and see that he was showing signs in preschool. From preschool through 2nd grade, Sage was enrolled in a small, private Catholic school. During kindergarten screening, the teachers were concerned with his handwriting. It was unusually sloppy and he was still having trouble writing and spelling his own name. We decided to go ahead and let him go on to kindergarten and that we would make it a priority to work with him at home.
Once kindergarten started we were not seeing the progress we had hoped so we decided to contact Easter Seals and get him evaluated by an Occupational Therapist. The therapist felt he could benefit from OT once a week. He went to OT all through kindergarten and 1st grade. He was still struggling with handwriting and it was improving, but it was still not at grade level. He was also starting to have difficulty with his weekly spelling list. He could memorize it, but not remember how to spell the words the following week. However, his 1st grade teacher was wonderful and she really went above and beyond to help Sage feel successful at school.
It was during the fall of 2nd grade that he began to really have difficulty in spelling, math, reading and writing. He was struggling immensely with memorizing his spelling words and math facts and his teacher thought maybe he had an attention issue and that he just wasn’t trying hard enough. We felt it was not an attention issue, but rather a learning issue. During 2nd grade, he probably worked harder than any other student in his class, but he just couldn’t keep up. No amount of flash cards, studying, and reviewing could provide him the help that he needed. We began to see that the school was not going to have the resources that we needed to help our son and decided that we would finish out his 2nd grade year in the parochial school and then transfer him to the public school for 3rd grade.
Within a week of the start of 3rd grade, I asked the teacher to meet with us so that I could share some of my concerns. Sage was already struggling and we knew it wasn’t going to get any better. The teacher wanted to wait and see a little more of him in the classroom and also see how the first round of testing would turn out. When results were in, Sage scored low enough to obtain RTI intervention for math, but he just missed the cut off for reading by 2%. By this time, I had begun to do my own research and suspected that he may be dyslexic. He fought homework so much that we usually had tears every night. He didn’t want to go to school in the morning often saying he had a stomachache. The psychological and emotional impact was overwhelming
I spoke to the teacher about dyslexia and she felt because he could read at some level this was not the issue. We continued to advocate for appropriate reading intervention and an evaluation.
The school would not work with us. After several teacher and principal meetings we decided to take our son out of the school and homeschool him. He was failing in school and the system was failing him.
The time and energy we were putting into the fight, could be used to provide him the help and intervention he needed. We also decided to have him privately tested. He was diagnosed with dyslexia (reading), dyscalculia (math), and dysgraphia (writing).
We immediately sought out an Orton-Gillingham (OG) trained tutor. We quickly found out that was not an easy task. As a result of the schools not providing students with dyslexia the research-based interventions they need, the local tutors have no room to take on students. I called ten different tutors before I found one that could work with us.
Our son is now 10 years old and in 4th grade. He continues to be homeschooled and sees an OG tutor twice a week for one hour each session. He is making great strides. The emotional rollercoaster that he was on due to his learning issues is not just a rocky boat. He still has his moment because living with dyslexia is a lifelong struggle. However, had we left him in the public school system, he would have sank.
Our family is very lucky. Sage can be homeschooled and we have the financial resources o pay a tutor $4,000 a year to provide him with the support he needs. Most families cannot do this. The system is broken and needs to be fixed. How many children are we going to let fail before we do something about it?
|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 10:45 PM||comments (2)|
My son had always struggled with reading. Since he was in Kindergarten, I knew something was not quite right but never could figure it out. I asked his first grade teacher if it could be Dyslexia. She assured me it was not, and she was not worried about reading. She was concerned about his lack of focus. He attended a private Christian school until 3rd grade. They noticed his reading and spelling struggles in second grade and put him in a reading lab. It was worthless. We got his eyes checked, and the doctor said he had a tracking problem. We spent more than $2, 000 on vision therapy and eye exercises that did not help. He got private tutoring, speech therapy, and we took him to a number of tutoring centers. We have spent countless amounts of money on him. (We don’t mind spending the money, but NOTHING was helping.) Everyone told us he would either grow out of it, or he would learn to compensate.
In 3rd grade, we moved him to a public school, hoping to get more services for him. He did qualify for special education at that school due to his poor reading. We thought we finally had the answer. WRONG. When he was in 5th grade, they would work with him in the resource room, and allow him to listen to books, so he could keep up with what his classmates were learning. But, he was still not learning to read, write, or spell. I become so frustrated. My son thought he was “stupid” had no self-esteem, suffered from depression, and rarely talked to his peers at school. (He wanted to drop out of school at age 11.)
He would study for the weekly spelling list for hours and hours, yet he forgot the words by the following week. He could only read at a 2nd grade level, could not spell the words because, does, or friend, yet he would get A’s and B’s on his report card? My son was not stupid, so when he brought home his report card, he was not proud. He said they just gave him the grades because they feel sorry for him.
We had an IEP meeting his 5th grade year and they told us our son, who has 120 IQ, just may be “one of those kids who never learn to read.” That was NOT acceptable. I could not believe that educators were telling us this! So, I started to do some research on the computer. Why could he read a word in one sentence but not the next? Why were all his words missing vowels? Why couldn’t he sound out words: He had plenty of phonics instruction? Why did a clock baffle him so much? Why was he still reversing letters and had handwriting that looked like he was just learning to print. I found the Bright Solutions for Dyslexia website. There it was! I could check off about 95% of the symptoms. My son had Dyslexia.
Yet, when I shared this with my son’s school, they were skeptical and encouraged us to get formal testing because they did not think it was an issue. But, the cost of professional testing was high. We had to decide which was more important: get a diagnosis (knowing his school did not have the right type of help) or skip that and go directly to the solution.
In sixth grade, we found our solution and angel, Melissa Garretson. Not only did Miss Garretson understand Dyslexia, she took the time to explain Dyslexia to my son and me. She tutored my son for three years twice a week using the Barton Reading & Spelling system.
When my son was in 6th grade, he was a “broken” 12 year old that was a horrible speller and writer, and was reading on a 2nd grade level. Now, my son is 15 years old, he is no longer in Special Education, his Language Arts teacher just commented on my his amazing writer’s voice, and he is REALLY getting A’s, B’s and C’s.
If that wasn’t enough, Miss Garretson has helped make my son “whole” again! This is the part that makes me cry. My son is now a confident young man with many friends and has blossomed so much in just three years. My son embraces his Dyslexia. We do not romanticize it or deny that it makes things hard for him as he will have to deal with it his entire life. But, he knows that the brain differences that give him grief with his reading and spelling are the same brain differences that created his amazing imagination, his fantastic building skills, and his love of music.
THANK YOU so much Miss G. for the work that you do. You changed my son’s life!