View Full Version : Dyslexic child, please help.
02-18-2004, 09:42 PM
(I'd much rather this be in The Pit but I need advice more than I need to rant.)
Little bit of background...
I'm a sophomore at a small school in Ohio. About 700 kids K-12. During my study hall, I Teacher Aide for a woman that teaches 2nd grade and also goes to my church. I've now been in the classroom everyday for three weeks and have been helping a little boy one-on-one a lot.
This kid has a lot of problems concentrating, getting work done on time, and even remembering what he was doing after he looks away for a couple of seconds. The teacher thought he was ADD. However, after watching him write and read, I've decided he's dyslexic. (Coming from a 15 year old, take that decision for what it's worth) He has a lot of problems writing answers down, but if you ask him the same question verbally, he'll give an answer that is perfect and then some.
Yesterday, he was copying off the board (about 4 feet in front of him), when he tried to write "state" he wrote "tstatse". After looking up symptoms of dyslexia I became even more convinced this was his problem in school. Seems pretty cut and dried to me.
Now the problem...
I told the teacher what I saw and she said that it made sense and she had thought it also....but (there's always a but) the school cannot tell the parents that they think he's dyslexic because then they are liable for tests and treatment. This school is currently $500,000 dollars in debt and they refuse to pay for the tests and, quite possibly, treatment of this child. They would rather "wait until it's unavoidable and have the parents deal with it." However, by this time it will most likely be too late. The child has already failed second grade once and was sent back to first grade for awhile.
Is there anything I can do to help this child? And dyslexic dopers out there that can lend me some advice for helping him. Any help is greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
02-19-2004, 01:35 AM
The signs you describe are consistent with dyslexia. Most people with reading problems have auditory short-term memory deficits and reduced phonological awareness (i.e., the awareness that spoken language can be broken down into smaller chunks) which also affects their ability to spell, write to dictation, and copy from the board. Research has shown that these phonological awareness deficits persist throughout life and that intense and systematic treatment is necessary in order to improve their reading skills. I really hope that the school has been doing some kind of remediation and providing him with some classroom accommodations (e.g, relaxing time limits on tests, helping him read questions, etc.) and not just holding this boy back, as retention has not been found to be effective.
I know that this is beyond your control, but I really think that this child needs an assessment. Iím not familiar with the American school system, but I canít imagine that it would be legal for the school to withhold information from the parents regarding a suspected learning disability. (It certainly isnít ethical.) Iím also puzzled by the schoolís stance that it cannot afford to assess this student as most school boards have speech-language pathologists / psychologists already on the payroll. The school could also just suggest that the parents consult with their GP who could then refer them to a paediatrician for an evaluation (this is a good idea anyway if there are concerns regarding his attention).
The cost of treatment shouldnít be any more than what theyíre already spending either, as I imagine a special education teacher is already working with him quite a bit. In fact, having an assessment done would likely be more cost-effective as it would allow the teacher to pinpoint the specific areas in which this student needs remediation.
It's also just sad that the school is just going to wait until this child has failed abysmally before stepping in. By that time, itís almost a certainty that this student will hate school and will not be willing to do all the work that will be needed in order to catch him up. Itíll be especially hard for him to catch up anyway as he only has one more year left in the primary division. Once heís in grade four, the curriculum will shift from ďlearning to readĒ to ďreading to learnĒ and he simply wonít be able to cope.
With regard to remediation, itís hard to suggest where you should begin without knowing the specific needs this child has. If he does have a phonological awareness weakness, then thatís where treatment would need to start as itís the foundation for reading. Iíd ask the teacher to see if she knows what his sound awareness skills are like (e.g., Can he rhyme? Can he break words down into syllables? Can he isolate the individual sounds Ė not the letters, but the sounds Ė in a word?). If he needs help with these skills, then the school should have some resources that you can use. Two very popular activity books are Sounds Abound and Take Home Phonological Awareness. Some schools also use a computer program called Earobics. Once his phonological awareness skills are well developed, he can then move onto phonics (i.e., learning what letters go with what sounds).
The teacher should also get the studentís parents involved as itís critical that they help him practice his reading at home (he should be reading 20 minutes every day with someone who can provide him with feedback). Two popular reading programs that the teacher may wish to share with the parents are the Paired Reading (http://www.interventioncentral.org/htmdocs/interventions/rdngfluency/prrdng.shtml) and the Repeated Reading (http://www.interventioncentral.org/htmdocs/interventions/rdngfluency/rptrdng.shtml) programs.
Some attention should also be given to this studentís knowledge of sight words as learning these will improve his reading fluency. The teacher should have a list of sight words already, but you can also find a list of them at this site (http://www.readingpains.com/resources.html).
Finally, if the teacher is interested in learning more about dyslexia and its treatment, Iíd recommend she read Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz.
I wish you and this student the best of luck. Heís lucky to have a peer-tutor whoís as dedicated as you. I just hope that the school staff will give him the support he needs too because it really is their responsibility to ensure that this student can access the curriculum. The school and the parents need to sit down and formulate a game plan asap.
02-19-2004, 06:17 AM
Sadly, chrisn, you over estimate the helpfullness of the school and the parents. The school is doing no remediation and there is no special education teacher helping him and the parents aren't the sort of loving and caring parents you'd like the kid to have in this situation. If the school leaves it to the parents to step in, nothing will ever happen. I believe the parents also would not take their child to go get tested even if they were told when, where, and given some money. This is a very sad situation.
The teacher wants to help this child, but has been told that she can't tell the parents what to do. She is stuck trying to help him individualy as best she can. Just last week she had a child in her class who was severly emotionally disturbed because both of his parents were in prison for drugs and he was living with his grandma. He wouldn't pay attention in class, he stole from teachers and other students, and he was abusive. The school refused to do anything about it except give hum punishments. One night he stole his grandma's walker and hit her with it until she called 911. Now he's at an alternative school that can help him. This just shows the schools absolute lack of modivation to help the children until the parents, or grandparents, do it themselves.
Anymore help, please.
02-19-2004, 08:24 AM
I'm not sure how the educational systems tend to be in Ohio, but here in MI most counties have a Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) or an Intermediate School District (ISD) that has some kind of special education program referral service. Often these agencies offer Special Education services and support that is independent of the local school district and they include such things as testing and evaluation services. Perhaps the Teacher you are dealing with is not aware that these agencies exist. That would be one place to have her explore some options, if they exist.
I know that dealing with this teacher is not working and that said teacher just wants to let this student slide... mainly due to administration's bidding. Perhaps you can suggest working with her independently to research what other options are out there so this student won't slip through the cracks.
02-20-2004, 06:53 PM
This sounds like a very tough situation, especially if the parents are not very likely to go to bat for this kid. His best chances of overcoming this hurdle and be successful in school and later is intervention now. It sounds like it is a pretty severe case if he has been held back already.
I am/was dyslexic and have tutored other dyslexic kids. It is VERY hard to tutor kids with language disabilities - just to warn you in advance. What my LLD classes did was to basically make me memorize what letters and words looked like when they are correct. So they would bombard us with the information in as many ways as possible. So learning the alphabet we would say the letter "A" (auditory learning), while the teacher wrote "A" on the blackboard (visual learning) and at the same time we would trace the letter "A" in the air (tactile learning) or we would write it on the paper (tactile & visual). Everything was reinforced that way over and over again. Eventually, you literally memorize what letters, numbers and words look like and then you no longer have to think about it. Usually. There are moments.
If you are really gung-ho you can try to work with the boy this way. You would need to start at the very beginning. Unfortuately, since there is only so much time left in the school year I don't know that this will make even the slightest dent. The other thing you can do is try and work with him to make sure his reading comprehension stays up and when possible, take verbal tests. Encourage using a typewriter or computer for writing assignments.
It is possible (slim) that he will be able get through school and eventually things will rearrange in his brain and he will "get it". My uncle is/was dyslexic and that is what happened to him. He struggled and his grades sucked through high school. He got into college, all of a sudden things turned around for him and now he's an OB/GYN.
02-20-2004, 07:12 PM
You may want to pick up a copy of Ron Davis' book The Gift of Dyslexia (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/039952293X/104-5199737-7207945?v=glance)
I'm nursing while typing and must be brief, but http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030726/FCDYSL/TPScience/]here (
[url) [/url] is fairly good overview.
I know a half dozen people whose lives were radically changed by Davis' program.
Good luck. The child is lucky to have you.
02-20-2004, 07:16 PM
Try here (http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20030726/FCDYSL/TPScience/)
02-20-2004, 07:40 PM
I'm the father of a dyslexic child, so my opinion is definitely going to be biased here. Having said that...
Find some way to tell the parents what you think. I don't care how you do it or whose toes you step on in the process. Dyslexia is something that can be dealt with (not something that can be cured, but something that can definitely be dealt with) - but only if you know that you're dealing with it.
My daughter's kindergarten teacher was convinced that my daughter was "slow", as she never did well in any language skills. She also did terrible in first and second grade - but her second grade teacher noticed that she was doing extremely well in many areas even though she was a disaster case in language skills and asked that she be tested for learing disabilities, which the school promptly did. The tests came back - and identified my daughter as being both extremely bright and severely dyslexic.
Overnight my daughter changed from being a dumb kid to being a bright kid with a learning problem. Fortunately, our local school system is very good at handling both situations - from that point on my daughter was put in high-achiever math and science classes while she was also spending a lot of time in the special-needs learning center.
She's graduating from college in May as an honors student.
As far as I'm concerned, that second grade teacher saved my daughter's life.
02-20-2004, 08:03 PM
Sorry about this, but this is just something that I have to write about.
I'll never forget the day when we found out that our daughter (I'm going to call her"Joan" here, as she probably wouldn't want her real name bandied about here) was dyslexic.
As I mentioned in the earlier message, it was Joan's second-grade teacher that asked the school to have her tested. To that point, her teachers had all basically told us that she was slow - and with her bad grades and the incredible problems she had with her language skills homework, we believed it.
After the tests were run, the school called us up and asked us to come in for a meeting. When we got there, we found ourselves in a room with Joan's teacher, the school principal, the head of the "special needs" department, and the head of the "high potential" department. I thought the presence of the latter person was rather odd but dismissed it. (My wife, being in general much more perceptve than I, didn't dismiss it and saw what was coming long before I did.)
The principal started the meeting with a little speech about Joan, saying among other things that she had "a wonderful sense of fair play". (Oh God, I thought- here it comes - they're going to hold her back.)
Then she started going over the test results. Although Joan was in second grade and was managing to "read" at the first-grade level, she was basically faking it by guessing words from the stories' context. Her language skills, as tested with random word recognition, was actually at the pre-primer level. (Oh God, they're definitely going to hold her back.)
The principal told us that the reason why she was able to fake it was because she was very bright - her IQ was measured at 139. That high IQ qualified her for the "high potential" program, so the principal told us that they wanted to put Joan in both the "High Potential" and the "Special Needs" programs.
As I said, overnight Joan switched from seeing herself as a dumb kid to seeing herself as a bright kid with a learning disability - and it changed her life.
If this is a public school, call the local board of education and ask to speak with the supervisor for language arts or English. Explain your situation and ask for materials and guidance.
Also, contact a school board member and question the policy that does not allow teachers to tell the parents. That is outrageous and probably against the law.
I am not an attorney, but I was a teacher in public schools.
Thank you for caring enough to get involved!
02-21-2004, 07:41 PM
Thanks everyone for putting in your input.
Although the teacher and I are currently working to bring this issue in front of the board of education and the administration, I need advise on what to do for this child if all that fails. This is because, honestly, I don't think we have a chance going through the system. There have been multiple lawsuits against the school, which the school lost, and many more are pending. All of these lawsuits are from parents of special needs children because their children are not receiving any extra help. Our special education department is non-existent.
Also, though I could start working with him on-on-one from the basics, he still needs to complete the homework he is assigned. He is always behind in this work; I don't think he could handle additional work on the side, even if it is for his benefit.
I feel very trapped in this situation because his parents won't help and neither will the school. All that is left is this teacher and I, and we're doing the best we can, yet we alone cannot give him the help he needs.
02-22-2004, 10:51 AM
I am dyslexic.
The fact that I'm dyslexic didn't hold me back to become skilled in several languages, but I can never be 100% sure that what I write in them is impeccable. I am in fact rather sure that it most often not the case when I don't/can't use spell control on the PC and even then.... You must see your mistake/misspelling and recognize it as such before you can choose a suggested correction.
People who know me on a personal level, also know "how to read me" when getting my letters or mails, so there I have no problem (and we often makes jokes about it) :)
What I find myself rather strange is that I never experience the same impact of the problem when reading/writing in languages that use other characters then Roman (you call that Latin I guess)
(I never sought to resolve this little riddle since I am bored of being tested since I was a child, but I can think of a few probable causes for this)
My calculating skills don't go much further then 1+1=3.
I didn't need to be skilled in this in order to study what I wanted to do = I was not interetsed = too lazy to pick up and fight the battle at this particular level.
The languages I did need and still do need, so there you have it already: Give a dyslexic person a reason and a goal to beat his handicap in a coma, and he will get persistent to do so ( headaches and mini-rages incorporating throwing your books and papers at everything and everyone in sight included).
On an other note: A gift for languages is something that seems to be in the genes of my family, so I guess that played its role also.
Dyslexia is (that is: In my case) not something constant.
Its impact is - even on a moment to moment base - influenced by several factors. In my case it hits me at most when I am tired or when something distracts me (and often I am easily distracted) or even slightly irritates me.
It influences your ability to concentrate on the most unexpected moments. It even influences your ability to distinct "otday" from more abstract notions like "yesterday"--> "the day before yesterday -->last week..-->tomorrow -->the day after tomorrow... etc.. (that is why dated agendas are such a great invention)
It is difficult to focus on the abstract.
It is difficult to organize your thoughts, especially when you are in the need to write them down. I even have still difficulties when writing about/on issues covered by my studyfields. Know it all, can bring/explain it verbally, yet some moments don't manage to write the whole concept down in a clear and coherent manner.
It is difficult to keep ocncentrated when you nead to read for a longer time. This becomes especially problematic when you use a language you didn't study on (like for me is for example English and especially when I didn't use it for some time).
Reading outloud sometimes helps, especially for getting the "meaning" of what you actually try to decipher. But that is no constancy.
Hence I used to have all my courses read in on casette and listen them while reading to study. I also used to take a tape recorder with me when attending classes. Because taking notes - at expected speed - was out of the question becuase of the difficulty to divide my attention between listening and summarized writing. When I couldn't go to the lessons myself I had someone else recording them for me. Creating the need to decipher and use the notes of others was something to avoid completely.
You almost naturally develop skills to avoid difficulties both in reading and writing. When I feel -and see- that twinbrother Dyslex takes over I skim over words I don't get instantly and try to get the meaning of sentences out of the context of the whole. I also do that very often when "first reading" on a topic and then read again and try to pick up what I skimmed over. (Do that page by page when the issue has importance for me).
Dyslexia is in many aspects a very limiting handicap and not quite well understood as such, although the last decades there seems to be made a progress.
One of the difficulties to discover it lies in my opinion in the fact that one dyslexic isn't the other one. In my opinion you can't label them and put in categories at all.
Someone mentioned the book written by R.Davis & E.Braun, which I read a few years ago in a translation. If I recall well then I think I can agree that it offers a rather good introduction for getting familiar with and gain insight in the problem.
I think that in any case it would be a very useful book for you to read.
I do hope you can so something for that child and applaud your commitment and efforts. I certainly can't understand that a school can get away with the unprofessional approach you described.
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