Jul 102014
 

14 PROVEN Orton Gillingham Reading Program Choices



When your child is falling behind in reading, you don’t want to mess around with ineffective reading programs. While there are MANY great reading programs on the market, many are NOT effective for kids with diagnosed dyslexia. For kids with dyslexia, an orton gillingham reading program is often the best type of program.

Whether your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia or not, Orton Gillingham reading programs for dyslexia are a great choice. The programs listed below are proven dyslexia programs. They are proven by research to be effective for teaching reading to kids who are diagnosed with dyslexia.

Whether or not a specific Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia will work for YOUR child depends on your child’s individual learning needs. Therefore, it’s good if you can pay attention to the specifics of each program. Notice what types of activities each program uses for teaching reading.

Each Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia is a little bit different in its teaching focus. If you know your child’s learning style  before choosing an Orton Gillingham Reading Program, you can choose a reading program that teaches the way your child learns EASIEST.

If you pick a program that matches your child’s learning style, and that makes learning easier, then you won’t have to repeat teaching as many times before your child learns to read. Your child will also enjoy the lessons more (or at least, hate them less 😉 ).

Reading “The Dyslexia Help Handbook for ParentsDyslexia Help Handbook for Parents book dyslexic dyslexie books” before purchasing any Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia can help you chose the right program for your child. It could save you money if it prevents you from buying even one Orton Gillingham reading program that isn’t right for YOUR child. 😉

Orton Gillingham reading program choices teach phonemic awareness through explicit, direct instruction. Effective instruction for overcoming dyslexia begins with the most basic elements, which are the phonemes.

Proven Orton Gillingham reading programs for dyslexia cover every reading detail. The Orton Gillingham Reading method is specific, sequential, and multi-sensory.

Reading about the Orton-Gillingham methodology and other Orton-Gillingham reading programs can help you better understand the O-G method, which are the heart of most dyslexia programs.  Be aware, no single Orton Gillingham reading program is the “best” for teaching every child who has dyslexia.

To help your child, it helps a lot to know your child’s individual learning preferences and needs. Then pick an Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia that matches your child’s learning style.

orton gillingham reading programorton gillingham reading program

For example, if your child is a kinesthetic or tactile learner, pick an Orton Gillingham reading program that uses a lot of air writing, finger tracing, or other active ways of practicing.  If your child is a visual learner, having colorful imagery included in the teaching materials helps.

If you have the money, and are willing to teach your own child, you can use a scripted Orton Gillingham reading program listed below. These programs are comprehensive and heavily explained or scripted. They help parents teach own their kids by following the instructions.

These Orton Gillingham Reading Programs are often used in schools. They are a bit more expensive than programs listed on our Reading Remediation at Home page, but these are proven programs that work for many kids.

Choices For A Scripted, Proven, Orton Gillingham Reading Program for Dyslexia:

The ABeCeDarian Reading Program – This Orton Gillingham reading program is popular among homeschooling moms. It is less expensive than many of the programs. Several learning abled kids’ moms have had great outcomes with ABeCeDarian. They find this Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia easy to use. It has provided great progress for their kids.

AAS - Symptoms of Dyslexia Checklist

All About Reading and All About Spelling – These are cost-effective, easy to follow Orton Gillingham reading programs. AAR and AAS tell you what to do and when to do it. The program also tells you what to say as you’re teaching. Again, these programs are favorites among learning abled kids’ moms because they are easy to follow and cost effective. AAR and AAS combined will provide a top-notch Orton Gillingham reading program to help you teach your child to read.

Barton Reading – This Orton Gillingham Reading Program is somewhat expensive. It is very well-liked by parents for its clear instructions and thorough reading instruction. It is one of the Learning Abled Kids’ moms’ favorites.  Barton provides great reading progress for most kids.  If you want an excellent Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia and can afford Barton, it is highly recommended.

The New Herman Reading Method – The “old” Herman program is the initial method used with our son. The Herman Reading program has been available for a number of years. Renee Herman was a great help to me in figuring out how and why our school’s reading resource program wasn’t working. This dyslexia program is also heavily scripted to help you teach your child. This Orton Gillingham Reading Program is one of the better ones for a kinesthetic, tactile, or an active learner.

S.P.I.R.E. – As described on the SPIRE page, is a program written by an Orton-Gillingham fellow.  It has been tested and refined over a number of years.  SPIRE is more ideal for auditory learners than for active learners. This Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia has been modified over time to include the most recent research and best practices.

Wilson Reading – This is a tried and true classic Orton Gillingham Reading Program. It has been around for decades. The Wilson Reading program is used by a number of private schools for teaching children with dyslexia. The program is not as heavily scripted as some of the programs, so this program is a good choice if you’ve had Orton-Gillingham training.

**Saxon Phonics – This is a strong, well-developed reading remediation program. It is also one of the less expensive Orton Gillingham Reading Programs. It includes all materials, teachers guides and student books. This program is a great value.
Saxon Phonics on Amazon.comorton gillingham reading program
Complete Saxon Phonics Intervention, Home Study Kit at ChristianBook.com
Buy Other Saxon Phonics Program products at ChristianBook.com
View Other Materials for Teaching A Child How-to Read at Christianbooks.com
View Reading Comprehension Resources at Christianbooks.com

**LiPS from Lindamood-Bell – This is the same program used at Lindamood-Bell centers. It’s also used by many private organizations that teach reading. You can order LiPS through Gander Publishing. The kit is expensive, but the program is proven to work with most children who struggle with phonemic awareness. LiPS is a little complex to use. However, if you can read and understand the instructions, it is a lot cheaper to do the program yourself. Having the program offered by the Lindamood-Bell Centers is extremely expensive. Not all children respond well to their parent as their teacher though. So, if your child needs a lot of phonemic awareness training, you may want to look for a provider.

Software-based Dyslexia Programs:

Research shows that the MOST EFFECTIVE way to teach a child with dyslexia to read is to use a direct teaching program (those listed above) and a computer-based practice program. By combining the two teaching methods, your child will have repetitive practice to help him master reading.

A child with true dyslexia requires 200 to 300, or more, repetitions of practice with each single phoneme. Therefore, it’s a rare parent or teacher who has the time and patience to repetitively teach each phoneme that many times. Using a computer program can give your child all of that practice. A computer is also infinitely patient! 🙂

The BEST time of day to use one of these practice programs is right before going to sleep at night. Why? Because research shows that your brain continues to process whatever happened right before bed. That means learning “sticks” better when you study right before sleep. Therefore, if you have your child use an Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia right before bed each night, the phonemes will continue to be stored in your child’s memory. That equals better learning.

Each Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia below is computer-based. Some of them are online, so you can use those programs anytime, anywhere. Others are loaded onto a computer via software download or a CD. Having a program you can practice anytime, anywhere can add flexibility to your child’s learning.

Proven Software-based Orton Gillingham reading program for dyslexia options:

**Earobics is designed to teach a child with auditory processing issues. It helps the child “tune in” to key sounds in words. Earobics teaches phonemes in relation to print. It also builds concentration and the ability to attend to sounds within words. Some kids can’t “hear” the individual phonemes in a rules based program, so Earobics is a better place to begin for some kids.

**Fast ForWord Early Literacy – This program, like Earobics, begins with Phonemic Awareness as a starting point. I’ve not seen nor used this program, but many people say it is excellent. It has a LOT of research behind it. Fast ForWord is one of the top computer-based choices you can make.

**HearBuilder – This program focuses on basic concepts, Following Directions, Phonological Awareness, Auditory Memory, and Sequencing. HearBuilder has research that supports its effectiveness. They also have affordable pricing for HOME users. There is built-in progress reporting, so you don’t ever have to wonder whether your child is progressing through the program. The reports are also great for homeschoolers who have to provide evidence of their child’s work. The program is designed for K-8th grade students, but I think it’d be alright for a high school student who isn’t prone to complaining loudly. The graphics are not overly babyish, which is a complaint some older students have about other programs. Overall, HearBuilder would be a good practice program to use on a daily basis.

**Lexia Reading – This is the program we used. HOWEVER–It has been modified to meet Common Core standards. UNFORTUNATELY, they also added TIMED exercises. The timed items are frustrating to kids with a slow processing speed. IF your child is known to have a neurologically slow processing speed, this program may not be your best fit.  Lexia has numerous different practice activities within 5 levels. The program is very thorough. It begins with basic vowel sounds, and progresses up through roots, prefixes, suffixes, and syllabication. This program is a great teaching tool when used on a daily basis.

Multisensory Reading, Spelling and Penmanship “This is a multi-sensory reading, spelling and penmanship program. It builds associations between symbols and sounds in the English language. The program uses self-paced repetition. It uses the close association of visual, auditory and kinesthetic elements to improve kid’s language skills.” This program has computer-based and app-based practice. It is a great technology-based, multi-sensory dyslexia program.

Prolexia Ultra Phonics Tutor – This program is great for practicing handwriting and phonemic awareness together. Learning these skills together can help streamline your child’s educational day. Having a shorter day is a great benefit for both you and your child! That said, I HIGHLY recommend getting their “light pen” to use for practice. Using the pen-type of pointer will help your child develop handwriting skills more directly. If your child uses the mouse for the pointer device with the program, the writing skills will not transfer as well to pencil and paper.

You may also want to check out the Free Multisensory Reading and Dyslexia Programs online. Those programs are a good way to engage your child in extra reading practice. There are also great audio-visual or hands on programs you can use as dyslexia programs.  You may also want to check out:

Best Homeschool Curriculum for Kids with Dyslexia, ADHD, or other Learning Disabilities

May 172014
 

Overcoming Dyslexia through Homeschooling was Easier Than We Expected!

Overcoming Dyslexia via homeschoolingMy name is Sandy, and I’m the owner of Learning Abled Kids and the Learning Abled Kids’ Support Group.  I’m sharing our story of overcoming dyslexia through homeschooling as an encouragement for you.

I’m sharing the stories of my boys separately because each of their stories is different.. Each story may speak to a different mom–maybe this story of overcoming dyslexia will encourage you. 😉

Question: Have you homeschooled from the beginning?

Sandy: “No, we actually started out sending our son to public school and had no intention of homeschooling.”

Question: What made you decide to homeschool?

Sandy: “When we sent our oldest to school, he was a happy, talkative, smart little guy who loved sharing all kinds of information he learned from various sources.  We called him our ‘information sponge’ because he soaked up knowledge at every opportunity.

Unfortunately, when my son began public school, things went downhill fast and got worse from there.


“By October of his kindergarten year, he came home from school one day and asked me, ‘Why doesn’t my brain work right?’  He was so smart and so in tune to the world around him that he noticed he wasn’t like the other kids.

My son struggled immensely with reading and writing skills.  Other kids made fun of of our son, called him names, bullied him, and he was becoming more depressed as time went along.

By the end of fourth grade, my son wouldn’t look people in the eye, he’d hang his head, hardly speak, and I felt like we needed to rescue him or watch his life destruct right in front of us.  We were warned by our neuropsychologist that depressed, bullied kids often turn to “self-medication” (drugs), drop out of school, or become suicidal.

Basically we decided to homeschool to save our son from a tragic outcome.  He was clearly smart and had so much to offer the world, but his spirit was being destroyed at public school.

Question: Since you started out in public school, what issues and problems did you face with your children in school?

Sandy: “Going into second grade, our son still couldn’t read.  We got an independent evaluation, found out he had severe dyslexia along with a slow processing speed, working memory problems, and inattentive ADHD that was caused by his other learning issues.  We presented the neuropsychologist’s report to the school expecting they’d provide the needed reading services for overcoming dyslexia, but the school wouldn’t give our son help because they said, ‘He’s not failing yet.’

“We filed a due process suit to try to get reading services for overcoming dyslexia.  It took the entirety of our son’s second grade year to settle the lawsuit, after which our son’s reading services began.

Our son received reading services throughout third grade and fourth grade. However, at th end of fourth grade, our son was still not reading according to our independent evaluator’s results.  Towards the end of fourth grade, the school wanted to cut back on our son’s reading services and suggested my husband and I ‘just lower our expectations.’  All the while we were contending overcoming dyslexia and our son just needed more intense reading instruction.

Our son was clearly a SMART guy, but he was having difficulty learning to read. I believe in retrospect, it was because his program was not implemented properly.  The bullying, the school’s low expectations, inadequate educational provisioning, and the lack of any meaningful educational progress led us to make the decision to homeschool.

Question: What is your personal level of education?

Sandy: “I had my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems when we began homeschooling.  Shortly before we began to homeschool, I went and took a two-week, 56 hour Orton-Gillingham training course.

While homeschooling, I earned my Master’s Degree in Instructional Design, which helped me develop viable programs for my boys.  I wanted to quit my Master’s program at many points along the way, but my husband was insistent that I should not quit.  I’m very thankful now that I didn’t quit, but it was surely difficult at the time!”

Question: Did you feel well-qualified to teach your child before you began homeschooling?

Sandy: “Truthfully, I didn’t feel qualified at all. However, I felt I could do no worse than our school had done in the five years my son was there!  Let’s face it.. He wasn’t reading after five years in school and overcoming dyslexia wasn’t going to happen if we left him in school.  If I homeschooled for five years and my son still wasn’t reading, I wouldn’t have done any worse than our public school.  My goal was simply to do ‘better than the school.'” I didn’t even have a full expectation of overcoming dyslexia.  I simply wanted my son to be able to read at a basic level.

Question: What are some of the main struggles you faced when homeschooling your learning abled child?

Sandy: “It was so hard in the beginning because my son was so beaten down, his response to almost everything was, ‘I can’t.’  His self-esteem was beaten down. He was convinced he couldn’t learn. I did not want to add a smidgeon of discouragement, so I had to work really hard on myself to *always* remain upbeat and encouraging.  That was very difficult at times.

It was difficult to go through the reading instruction repetitively until my son mastered each phoneme, each spelling rule, and each word attack skill.  It was tedious and boring for me, but essential for my son to have the Orton-Gillingham instruction to make overcoming dyslexia possible.”

Question: What are the main benefits you experienced in homeschooling your learning abled child?

Sandy: “Awesome academic progress, the recovery of my son’s self-esteem and the return of his joyful spirit were the biggest benefits.  It took about three years for him to recover from the psychological devastation he experienced in school.

It also took about three years to take him from a non-reader to a reading level beyond 12th grade (he was in 7th grade when he achieved that reading level).  From there, my son began reading to learn, became an excellent student, and he surpassed any expectation we had when we began homeschooling.

An added benefit was the development of very close, loving family relationships within our family, and with his grandmas.  We were able to spend much more time together as a family, and our stress levels dropped dramatically within a very short time of leaving public school.

Homeschooling became a way of life that we all loved beyond any of our imaginings.  Although I felt like I was ‘forced’ to homeschool, I am blessed to have been able to homeschool. I am now very thankful we have traveled this journey.  My boys are highly successful, and our family relationships are great as a result of working together on the challenge of overcoming dyslexia.”

Question: What is your son’s educational outcome and what is he doing now?

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Sandy: “We flew past the low expectations the school had.  My son tested at a 13+ Grade Equivalent reading level at the end of seventh grade, and by ninth grade he began earning college credits.

My son graduated from our homeschool program with 39 credit hours for college and went to college ranked as a Sophomore.  He received an Honors Scholarship that paid for housing and books, another merit scholarship to pay 100% of his tuition, he has been on the Dean’s list every semester, and has a Summa Cum Laude level GPA.

My son is now a college graduate, and he graduated with high honors in 2014.  I couldn’t be prouder of the young man he has become and I can attest that overcoming dyslexia is entirely POSSIBLE!”

Overcoming Dyslexia Is Possible for YOU TOO!

I’ve written “The Dyslexia Help Handbook for Parents: Your Guide to Overcoming Dyslexia Including Tools You Can Use for Learning Empowermentovercoming dyslexia through homeschooling,” based upon everything I know from our journey overcoming dyslexia, my Master’s Degree, and from helping hundreds of parents who are homeschooling their Learning Abled Kids.

Grab this inexpensive book to get started overcoming dyslexia in your child. You can help your child at home whether you homeschool or not. Anything you can do to help your child will be well worth your time. Who knows, you may even create your own fabulous homeschooling success storyCheck out other stories of overcoming learning disabilities through homeschooling.

Oct 132013
 

Special Education Advocacy Comments by: Sandy Cook, Parent, To Georgia’s House of Representatives Education Committee Members and Georgia’s Senate Education Committee Members at their Townhall Session on 10 October 2013

“After five years in public school, my oldest son still could not read. He was falling further behind in all subjects. We told our IEP team our son wanted to go to college.

“One administrator laughed aloud, and barked, “Your son may never read well, and he is certainly NOT college material. You just need to lower your expectations!”

“As they had always done, our school ignored our pleas for meaningful instruction. It was CLEAR their expectations for INTELLIGENT children with dyslexia are minimal. I don’t think they realize their low expectations become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

“Thus, I was forced to homeschool. In our first year of homeschooling, my son achieved a 6th grade reading level, and he was fully proficient in reading two years later. My son is now in college, on the Zell Miller Scholarship, and this year he will graduate from college—with honors.

“Scientifically proven programs for teaching students with dyslexia have existed for decades. The programs enable children to read proficiently in three years or less. I used one, and I was easily successful yet Georgia’s schools to continually fail to teach intelligent children to read—in a reasonable time frame.

“Children with dyslexia account for 10-15% of the school population, so you, the legislators of Georgia, can increase school performance across the state with three pieces of legislation in the form of special education advocacy :

1) “ALL Teachers need to be taught Universal Design for Learning and they need to understand children with learning disabilities are not mentally impaired. These kids can learn if they are provided with accessible instruction and properly implemented, proven programs.

2) “Every child with a learning disability needs to be quickly equipped with assistive technology. You wouldn’t withhold audiobooks from a blind student, and likewise we shouldn’t withhold audiobooks from children who have dyslexia. We need to provide assistive technology to all students with specific learning disabilities to keep our children on grade level while we work to overcome their disabilities.

3) “Parents need schools to document the effectiveness of their special education programs so we can make informed decisions about the placement of our children. Schools need to be held accountable for the effective implementation of proven programs.

“Parents need to know: How many years children spend in special education resource classes. They also need to know how many children ever graduate from a school’s resource program.

Special Education Advocacy Efforts

“In summary, Great Outcomes requires that we:
1) Educate teachers about Universal Design for Learning and learning disabilities.
2) Liberally equip Georgia’s children with assistive technology.
3) Empower parents with data so we can make informed educational decisions.

“These three educational initiatives will improve learning outcomes in Georgia’s schools. Thank You for your consideration of these changes on behalf of students with specific learning disabilities.”

Sep 112013
 

Anxiety & Learning Disabilities

This is an audio interview with Jenny. Jenny began homeschooling her son, who has learning disabilities and anxiety, when he was in elementary school. Public school had proven to be a poor fit.

Feel free to listen to the audio (be sure your speakers are on), read the transcript, or do both. I hope this story about homeschooling to overcome Anxiety & Learning Disabilities is inspiring to you!

Overcoming Anxiety & Learning Disabilities with Homeschooling Transcript:

Sandy: Hi everybody, This is Sandy cook with Learning Abled Kids, and today I’m chatting with Jenny Crowe. She’s a veteran homeschooling mom and a member of the learning abled kids community. Jenny was a social worker for 12 years and she has homeschooled her son for 10 years. He has just graduated from high school and started college this month. So let’s all welcome Jenny. HI Jenny!
Jenny and Son photo
Jenny: Hello.

Sandy: HI! I want to thank you first for your willingness to do this interview to help other moms see that regular people homeschool.

Jenny: You’re welcome.

Sandy: Let’s get started then. First question: have you homeschooled from the beginning?

Jenny: No. Our son went to public school until he was diagnosed with dyslexia and they tried several things that did not work for him. And he really needed one-on-one instruction but they weren’t able to provide that either. So, I started doing it [homeschooling] part-time when he was in third grade.

Sandy: Right. So what made you end up deciding to homeschool?

Jenny: Well, for one, they were not teaching to his learning style. He was a visual learner and they were doing all kinds of different things with him. So it was really difficult. They were doing “Reading Recovery” with him, which does not work. At that time I didn’t know that it does not work very well for teaching somebody with dyslexia to learn how to read.


Sandy: Right. They tried that program with my son also.

Jenny: Oh did they? It was awful. Oh it was awful. He was in first grade and and he would hang his head down and he’d say he didn’t want to go. And the teacher would be so upset, and yeah, it was terrible. So I tried pulling them out, but the teacher convinced me that we needed to give it one more try, and so we did. But it never did any good. And then I worked at the school and my husband was volunteering there and we could see that he was having problems knowing what to do when and he was some major problems with bullying. So that’s when we decided to homeschool.

Sandy: Right. So were the bullying issues or the educational issues the primary reason you decided to start homeschooling?

Jenny: I think the educational issues were the primary reason.

Sandy: Okay.

Jenny: I mean he was also gifted, so he was not learning at the rate that he could be. In fact he was behind most of the other kids because they were going too fast and he couldn’t keep up.

Sandy: Right, I understand that completely. When you started homeschooling, did you have any special training? I understand you were a social worker, but I don’t know if that includes any training educationally.

Jenny: No. The only teaching experience I had was being a Sunday school teacher. That’s was it.

Sandy: Right. So before you started did you feel qualified to teach your son?

Jenny: Um, no. I really didn’t. That’s why I had believed the “Reading Recovery” teacher because I thought, “Well, she knows and I don’t, so it must be something that’s going to work for him.” But I got to the point where they weren’t giving individualized attention, although they were trying, but they were so busy they didn’t have time. I was having to help him every day after school anyway, going over everything they had gone over again. And, you know, the teacher would call me all the time for different things, you know his needs, or what did I think about that, or he was having a meltdown or whatever.

So part of the beauty of homeschooling is we didn’t have any more of that. We were at home and I could teach him in the way that he learns, and I could teach him what I wanted to teach him, what I felt was important. And so that made a big difference.

Sandy: Right. That sounds great. When you started homeschooling did you face many struggles, and if so what kind did you face?

Jenny: I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?

Sandy: when you started homeschooling did you have any struggles teaching your son, and if so what kinds of problems did you encounter?

Jenny: Well, once we figured out what his learning style is I tried to present things visually and I looked for curriculum that was very visual and hands-on. That was really helpful. He would get frustrated very quickly. And so that was a problem, but at home we could take breaks and he could move around, he could bounce on his ball, he could bounce on the trampoline. So all that helped him be able to concentrate better and helped him retain it better, because we had all those extra things that we could do to break it up and to just to make it more of a fun experience rather than sitting in a classroom listening.

Sandy: I understand that. So what were some of the main benefits you experienced in homeschooling?

Jenny: Wow. There was a lot. I could take field trips with him whenever we wanted to, basically–In a subject he was interested in rather than something he wasn’t interested in. I could play to his strengths and work that way. I could help him with stress. In public school he started putting glue on his hands, and letting it dry and peeling it off as a stress reliever. And he would do things like that because he was so stressed. And so, you know, when you’re at home you can lay on the floor and homeschool, or you can ride your bike around the block and then come back and do some more school, or you can jump from letter to letter on the floor when you’re learning how to spell. I mean there’s just all kinds of varieties and ways that you can do it. I could teach him about being a follower of Jesus. We could even go into subjects that the school didn’t provide because we were just free of all of that kind of stuff. We didn’t have the restrictions that the government puts on and he could work outside. There was just a lot of freedom in it.

Sandy: We found that to and I really like that about homeschooling.

Jenny: Me too.

Sandy: So, let me ask you what your son is doing now and what kind of educational outcomes you experienced?

Jenny: Well, he’s been in school for almost 2 weeks. He’s going to the local college here. And he’s taking eight hours, which I had to persuade him because he was going to go full-time. But he thanked me the other day because if it takes you a while to process things, then you need more time. And so that gives him more time to study and more time to really learn the information. And so far he says he likes it, so I’m just really thrilled that he has accommodations. He went to the teachers and asked for accommodations so that he can take a bit little more time. And they’ve been great with him so far.

Sandy: Excellent. So is he registered officially with the college for learning disability support?

Jenny: Yes. We went in the disability office and talked to the lady there. And she gave him a letter. After I gave her documentation she gave him a letter to take to the teachers and they’d sign off. And then they would provide whatever, whatever he had documentation for.

Sandy: Excellent. So is there anything else you really feel like you would like to share with people who are thinking about homeschooling, in regard to homeschooling a child with special learning needs?

Jenny: Well, I asked my son that when I was asking him permission to do this, and he said tell them, “It’s rewarding and tough.” (laughter) And he has a lot of anxiety and a lot of that came from being in public school. We’re still kind of dealing with that some. But, you know, he and I are much closer than we would have been. We got spent a lot of time together. He has some really close friends from being with other homeschooled kids. You know they have co-ops things like that. I think he has closer relationships with our church family because he has more freedom to do things, and he’s not as stressed. Let’s see, you know I actually miss it. I don’t miss the times when he got upset and we were upset with each other, when we were frustrated with school, but those were learning times too. So, it was just something that really bonded us together.

Sandy: Right. And I found that with my boys also, that we have really good close relationships because of our homeschooling.

Jenny: Yeah! We do. Yeah, because you spend that quality time together and then you have quantity time too. And then you share all the things you learn. We saw, we had some awesome curriculum on different things and biology was one of his favorites. You know, we could talk about it, we could go outside and see it. You know, he liked history so we looked into all kinds of history things and you go to a play or concert or whatever you want to do to just teach them the things that are important.

Sandy: Sounds great, and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. And hope you thank your son for us. Tell him we appreciate his input too.

Jenny: I will. I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity because I was like most people. I was scared of homeschooling because I didn’t know much about it. And at the time we started there wasn’t very many homeschoolers. Of course that changed a lot, but it really was the best decision that we made. It was just a wonderful experience and I would recommend it highly to anybody.

Sandy: Right. And we were exactly the same way. I was terrified before we started, but it turned out to be our best decision.

Jenny: That’s wonderful. You know, and I even thought if he learns differently and has some challenges, then probably homeschooling is not the best way to go for that, definitely. But I found that it was the opposite. Homeschooling provides the freedom that they really do need. And so it was just an answer to prayer that we could do that.

Sandy: Right. I’m glad things turned out well for you and I hope they turn out well for our listeners down the road. And I really do appreciate your time doing this interview with me.

Jenny: Well, and I want to thank you too for all that you do. I mean your website and all the things and information that you’ve given us has really helped us a lot.

Sandy: Well thank you. I appreciate that. I do what I can to help, and hopefully it helps a lot of kids down the road.

Jenny: Yeah. Yeah.

Sandy: Okay, well thank you so much for calling and for your time and I really do appreciate it.

Jenny: You’re welcome.

Sandy: Thank you.

Check out other homeschool success stories of overcoming learning disabilities through homeschooling.

If you find this story inspiring, please leave a comment below telling how Jenny’s story encourages you. I’m sure she would love knowing her son’s story is inspirational to others.

Aug 172013
 

Homeschool to President’s List with 4.0 GPA

Welcome to another one of our homeschooling special needs success stories.

I’d like to introduce you to my long-time friend and active member of the Learning Abled Kids’ Support Group, Kellie.


I’ve known Kellie since the beginning of my homeschooling days. Since she and I were both homeschooling special needs, we connected with each other.

Homeschooling Special Needs Kids Provides Safety and GREAT Educational Outcomes

Kellie has agreed to share her homeschooling special needs story in hopes that it may be an encouragement for you. If your child has medical issues and/or learning disabilities, this story of homeschooling special needs may help you.

Have you been homeschooling special needs from the beginning?

Kellie: “I have four children. Our oldest attended public school for K, 1st, and 2nd grades. Our other children have never attended any school other than our home school. Our second and fourth child have learning differences.”

What made you decide to begin homeschooling special needs?

Kellie: “I had a desire to home school from the time our oldest child was very young.  I could not imagine sending a five year old off to spend the entire day with strangers.  It broke my heart.

Over those three years, we saw so many flaws in the one-size-fits-all government school system.  Our final reasons to home school included moral and religious reasons plus the intrusion their schedule imposed on our family schedule.  We also saw that there was no way our second child could flourish in such a system.

The final blow was when the school system would not cooperate with his special needs surrounding his severe food allergies.  Those were the years when school shootings became issues for our nation too.  Safety was a great concern.”

Since you started out in public school, what issues and problems did you face with your children in school?

homeschooling special needs
Kellie: “Our oldest child was sick a lot.  He caught strep throat approximately every 8 weeks.  He had to have his tonsils out.  The school was over the top about his absences.  Our state was cracking down on truancy at the time.  We were threatened with truancy charges even though our son had a doctor’s excuse for every absence and the teacher actually visited the hospital.

He had to have two other surgeries in those three years and also contracted mono which put him out of school for over two months.  It was ironic to us that though we were being threatened, his teachers said it wasn’t necessary for him to do make up work because even in missing 40 to 50 days of school, ‘he wasn’t missing much.’ These issues only scratch the surface of the many appalling problems we witnessed in the system.”

What is your personal level of education?

Kellie: “My husband and I each graduated high school and attended college.  Neither of us graduated college.”

Did you feel well-qualified to teach your child before you began homeschooling special needs?

Kellie: “I felt qualified in that I couldn’t do worse than the public school was doing and was quite sure I could do a better job.  There have been moments over the years that I was less prepared than I had hoped, but still sure that our choice to home school was best.  I think most of struggle with doubts from time to time and sometimes those doubts linger for a bit.  I certainly don’t regret our choice to homeschool.”

What struggles did you face when homeschooling special needs?

Kellie: “There was no map to follow, no play-by-play guide.  Choosing curriculum was often hit or miss.  Feeling as if I didn’t know which way to turn to make sure my child met his potential was difficult.  There was a sadness at times.  The home school community was not as well connected for most of my home school years as it is now.  It was difficult to find information on home schooling in general much less for teaching a learning abled child.”

What benefits did you experience in homeschooling your special needs child?

Kellie: “There were many wonderful experiences.  I had time to talk, really talk, daily.  I think quality time being what our kids need is a myth.  They need quantity.  They need face time.  I was not able to protect him from everything wrong in the world, but I did shield him from much of the negative effects of placing a learning abled child in a public school setting.  He also got much more time with his father and grandparents while home schooling than we could have achieved with a public school schedule.”

What is your son’s educational outcome and what is he doing now?

Kellie: “He graduated from our home school on time and dual enrolled in technical college during his last semester of high school.  He was on the President’s List with a 4.0 GPA.  His plans are to continue his course of study to completion.  He will soon be 19.  He is responsible and confident.  The confidence is a very new development.

“It is never too late.  We have been told by college officials and employers that he is well liked, valued, industrious and respected.  Most of all, I’m happy to report that he is happy.”

If you find this story inspiring, please leave a comment below telling how Kellie’s story encourages you. I’m sure she would love knowing her son’s story is inspirational to others.

Check out other homeschooling special needs success stories of overcoming learning disabilities through homeschooling.

Also, if you’re concerned about legal issues in homeschooling special needs kids, check out the HSLDA homeschooling special needs page.

Aug 022013
 

Return to Questions

Q: Is vision therapy valid or does my child need vision therapy? Any advice/experience is appreciated.. My child is six and struggling with reading. Would you get an exam?

Answer:

Vision therapy may or may not be the issue when a child is struggling with reading. MANY, MANY kids who have difficulty with reading have processing problems, not visual problems.

There are also a significant number of children who have what is called an “Ocular Motor” deficit, which means their eyes don’t sweep smoothly from side-to-side while reading. The child’s eyes may not have a full range of scanning to the left and/or right. In these cases, vision therapy will help.

The most common visual motor deficit is in the area of convergence insufficiency.  Convergence insufficiency occurs when a child cannot sweep his eyes towards his nose well when trying to read.  It’s an alternating sweep of the eyes, alternating right and left inward sweeping. It’s different than moving both eyes towards the nose simultaneously (as in cross-eyed) .

Symptoms your child may need vision therapy:

Ocular motor deficiencies can cause a lot of problems with reading. If a child has these types of eye-movement problems, it typically causes physical discomfort for the child when he reads.  Ocular motor deficits can cause the words to “jump around” on the page.  Children may get teary-eyed, get headaches, or frequently lose their place if they have ocular motor difficulties.

I’ve found that often ocular motor problems co-exist with phonemic awareness or processing difficulties, as they did with my child.  If a child has true dyslexia and needs vision therapy, the therapy alone will not bring about a significant change in the child’s overall reading ability, bit it will alleviate the eyestrain a child experiences while reading.

Research supporting vision therapy:

vision therapy

If you have concerns or questions about the efficacy of vision therapy, check out the research info at the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD): http://www.covd.org/?page=Research

In particular, check out this PDF providing summaries of dozens of studies that have been done..
Summary of Research on Vision Therapy (pdf)

Finding a Developmental Optometrist for Vision Therapy:

You can find a Developmental Optometrist (D.O.) through the listings at the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD). These doctors can perform a typical eye exam too. However, you need to know that having 20/20 vision is NOT the same thing as having ocular motor issues.

Vision that is not 20/20 is corrected with glasses. When a child can’t move his eyes smoothly in a coordinated fashion, vision therapy is needed to strengthen the eye muscles.

If the Optometrist (D.O.) finds ocular motor difficulties and therapy needed, it is a good idea to go ahead and have the vision therapy. Having the therapy will help your child read print more easily. Be aware though, visual motor issues alone may not solve all of your child’s reading problems.

Difficulties with phonemic awareness make decoding “painfully” slow. A child with phonemic awareness problems have difficulty remembering words from one reading to the next.

Phonemic awareness or other learning disabilities can be diagnosed by a psychologist who specializes in psycho-educational evaluations or a neuro-psychologist. Many Educational Consultants are also trained in administering tests that can point to potential problems. However, consultants won’t have the comprehensive training in identifying learning problems that a neuropsychologist has.

While your child is young.. it seldom “pays” to wait to pursue answers. A LOT of people think “he’ll probably grow out of it.” The International Dyslexia Association points out that 85% of children do NOT “grow out” of their reading difficulties. There is a much greater likelihood your child won’t grow out of it.

Waiting generally doesn’t pay off. The earlier a child is diagnosed, and can receive treatment, the smoother the road ahead.  If you address problems early, your child devise a lot of bad coping skills that he’ll have to “unlearn” later.

It would probably be beneficial to see about getting some testing for reading difficulties, dyslexia, and processing problems while you are pursuing vision therapy. If your child has visual tracking problems, that is a physical barrier to the act of reading. Therefore, it is usually best to address ocular motor issues first or early on in your efforts to help your child.

If you’re homeschooling, there are also home vision programs that some D.O.’s provide, which can allow you to do the vision therapy during your typical homeschool day. We did vision therapy as part of our regular educational program, which made it easy to do the daily exercises. Compliance with the program of exercises is of utmost importance for the therapy to be successful. Homeschooling while undertaking daily vision therapy can bring about good results if you do the exercises daily.

Vision therapy worked wonderfully for my son. He had convergence insufficiency, so he went through about a year of home-based therapy. Beforehand, my son’s eyes burned and watered when he tried reading. One of his teachers thought he was crying about reading. After the vision therapy, my son’s eyes no longer hurt him when reading.

Hope that helps!

Best Wishes,
Sandy

Return to Questions

Aug 022013
 

Return to Questions

Q: Could you please tell me more about this Davis method? I would like to learn more about it. Can you give a Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review?

Disclosure: This Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review is based solely upon my understanding of the program based upon the The Gift of Dyslexia book and telephone discussion with one provider.


Also, in my personal understanding of clinically diagnosable dyslexia, it is a neurological, cognitive learning disability where a person lacks phonemic awareness. The person also generally has processing and memory deficits that make reading words difficult.

Throughout this Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review, I will use the word “dyslexia,” because that is the term Ron Davis uses to describe the condition he treats. However, much of what is being treated by the Davis Program itself is more deeply rooted in visual perception or “minds eye” issues. These issues are not the same thing as the learning disability caused by a lack of phonemic awareness that is called dyslexia.

That said, visual perception issues often co-exist with the traditional learning disability called dyslexia that stems from a lack of phonemic awareness. I believe they exist together because the brain biology is closely related for the two conditions.

You’ll also see in this Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review that the program DOES include some components that address the phonological awareness issues in true dyslexia.

This information is important to you because the effectiveness of the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program will depend upon the components of your child’s INDIVIDUAL causes for his reading difficulty. SO, let’s get on with the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review and talk about the different components.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: Program Introduction

The Ron Davis Dyslexia Program has different components as explained in Ronald Davis’ Book: The Gift of Dyslexia: Why Some of the Smartest People Can’t Read and How They Can Learn.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: Orientation Component

First, the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program has an “orientation” component. This is where your child is taught to focus his “mind’s eye” at a particular orientation point. It is kind of like teaching your child to look at a cube from one side only. He can’t pick it up in his mind or “wander” around all sides of the cube. Anchoring your child’s viewpoint involves teaching your child to keep his ACTUAL point of view rather than visualizing other sides of an object.

Kids with visual-perception based reading problems or dyslexia are often “three dimensional” thinkers. They can visualize all aspects of an object in their minds. They can pick up and turn and object around in their minds without ever touching it.

With the three-dimensional thinking, the letters b,d,p, and q are interchangeable. Kids with dyslexia are able to orient the “object” in any direction. They can turn or flip the letters in their minds and they all become the same! Other similar letters are flipped too. M and W, u and n, s and z, etc.

That is why many kids who have the visual-perceptual issues with their dyslexia have a lot of reversals in their writing. To them, the orientation of the letters doesn’t matter.

Therefore, the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Orientation piece is about teaching a child to remain focused on the target as it IS. They have to learn to see it as it is, not as it can be seen from some other angle. I don’t know if my explanation makes sense, but I hope it does.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: Cross-body Patterning Component

Second, the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program includes cross-body patterning or doing activities crossing the mid-line of the body. For example, catching a ball with one hand while standing on the opposite foot, then alternating with the other hand and foot.

Cross-body Patterning helps build neural pathways in the brain that help the two hemispheres work together. I will confirm that our neuropsychologist also recommended cross-body patterning as a way to overcome developmental coordination disorder.

In the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program, the cross-body patterning seeks to build better integration of the two hemispheres of the brain. The brain processes involved in three dimensional thinking, recognizing letters, organizing and sequencing for reading, using the language center of the brain, etc. requires good communication between the two halves of the brain. Doing cross-body patterning exercises helps build the connections or communication between the two halves of the brain.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: Clay Letter-work Component

Third, there is the learning with clay aspect. In this activity, your child works systematically through the alphabet. He learns the most-frequently used words by building them out of clay. Your child also learns the associated phonemes for the alphabet until he has achieved mastery of the letters and the words.

Although this clay work does address phonemic awareness to a degree, and it is a great multisensory activity, the clay work does not provide the same level of intense instruction as some other phonemic awareness programs. Less intensity equals slower progress.

For some kids with severe phonological awareness deficits, it is my opinion that better progress could be made with a proven Orton-Gillingham based program for overcoming dyslexia.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review: The Book

The Gift of DyslexiaRon Davis Dyslexia Program Review” is a very uplifting book and describes the Davis Method in the back. Although the “mind’s eye focal point” works best for children who have visual perception and attention issues, I also know people for whom the program has not provided any measurable benefit. It might have provided a little benefit, but not enough that they felt it was worthwhile.  Those for whom the program does not seem to work well are those with the deepest deficits in phonemic awareness, working memory, and processing speed.

Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review Summary

Within the Davis Method, the clay work is an excellent multisensory method for working through phonemes and frequent words. However, the program (as provided in the book) is not comprehensive in addressing all of the learning needs for children with the severe learning disability called dyslexia. The clay work portion of the program, along with the cross-body patterning, is well worth the effort for most children who have neurological issues. The program is likely to help children who have classical dyslexia to some degree, but I believe it is most beneficial for those who have letter orientation issues.

We DID use the “minds eye” orientation exercises with our son along with the other activities. I didn’t pay for the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Provider’s offering. so I don’t know what that experience would be like. Generally speaking, my son did enjoy the activities we implemented.

The clay work was too slow of a process, so it limited the number of letters we could work on each day. Generally speaking, I found the clay work to be an inefficient instructional method that was somewhat messy and took too long. As far as multisensory activities for practicing letters and sounds go, we much preferred other tactile materials such as soap in a pan, barefeet on carpet, large chalk on a traditional chalkboard, etc.

There is actually very little scientific evidence for the effectiveness of the Davis Program… All I could find was Anecdotal evidence provided by the Davis Dyslexia Correction Center. There are stories of the program working for some kids. For those whom the program meets their specific needs, the improvements seem to be dramatic. If interested, feel free to go read Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review “testimonies” of the program’s success.

I’ve not seen the Davis program recommended by psycho-educational evaluators or neuropsychologists in IDA meetings, L.D. Association meetings, Advocacy training, etc. or in any of the many evaluation reports I’ve read.

While the Davis Program may work for your child, it just as likely will not. It really depends upon the individual needs of your child. The question I would ask is, “How much of your child’s issues are centered around “maintaining a focal point” with a need for the types of remediation provided by the program?” 

A Davis provider/evaluator can “evaluate” your child, but the “evaluation” is narrow by industry standards. The evaluation relates primarily to the elements of the Davis Program. It is not a psycho-educational evaluation like you would receive at a neuropsychologist’s office. The Davis provider’s evaluation is primarily to see whether your child’s mind can “wander” around an object, how strong your child’s three-dimensional thinking is, and whether the Davis program itself will help your child with the issues the program addresses. It’s not a substitute for a learning disabilities evaluation.

As for the conclusion of my Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review, I’m neither for, nor against, the Davis Program. If it works for even one child, then that child should have the program. It may or may not be a great program for YOUR child.

My advice would be to go get a comprehensive neuropychological evaluation for your child. If your child’s evaluation results show there are developmental cross-body issues and/or visual-perception issues, then you might want to consider the Ron Davis Dyslexia Program as ONE program in your arsenal of solutions. I personally would not rely on the program as the sole solution unless the only symptom my child has was misorientations of letters and maybe some physical clumsiness.

Keep in mind, the foregoing Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review consists of my perceptions and opinions based upon my limited experience and knowledge of the program. My opinions are subject to change over time. 😉

If you’d like to leave a Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review of your own, feel free to leave a comment below. If you post a review, please be aware you are responsible for your own Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review content. Please remain FACTUAL, respectful, and maintain the privacy of individuals. 😉

Hope this Ron Davis Dyslexia Program Review helps in some way!
Best Wishes,
Sandy

Return to Questions

Aug 022013
 

Return to Questions

Q: Our school system says dyslexia is not a valid classification for receiving services for 504. What is a 504 plan and are they just for medical conditions?

Answer:

what is a 504 plan

What is a 504 plan?

A 504 plan under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to provide equal access to education for kids with disabilities. As far as the federal laws are concerned, Learning Disabilities ARE classified as disabilities.

When it comes to education, the ADA website says,

“No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.

“As directed by Congress, the Attorney General issued regulations implementing title II, which are based on regulations issued under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The title II regulations require public entities to “administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.” The preamble discussion of the “integration regulation” explains that “the most integrated setting” is one that “enables individuals with disabilities to interact with non-disabled persons to the fullest extent possible .”

What is a 504 Plan Supposed to Provide?

One of the MAIN focuses of the 504 Plan is to provide EQUAL ACCESS, and that includes equal access to education. For example, if a child can’t read, providing audio textbooks would give the child access to the SAME course content as other students. Therefore, a child with dyslexia SHOULD have audio versions of all books provided to other students if he is to have equal access.

Somehow, schools think they SHOULD provide audiobooks to children who are blind, but the think it’s “cheating” to provide the same accessibility to kids with reading disabilities? Under federal law, you could easily make the case that your child has an equal right to access to the curriculum if he cannot read. Therefore, he needs a 504 plan. After all, what is a 504 Plan written for!

If your child can’t write well, he can dictate his answers into a digital recorder. He could use speech-to-text software to write compositions. Using a calculator for math can provide accessibility to a child whose working memory prevents him from doing math in his head.

What is a 504 plan written to include?

You are right. 504s are NOT just for medical conditions. They are designed to provide equality and accessibility to education for kids with disabilities. A child with dyslexia may have a 504 plan, but it often isn’t necessary when the child’s IEP contains well-defined accommodations. They can be included in your child’s IEP.

Unfortunately, a lot of schools don’t pay as much attention to accessibility to curriculum for kids with learning disabilities. Therefore, you may want to press for a 504 plan if your child’s IEP does not specify good assistive technology and/or accommodations.

If you’re meeting with resistance from your school, you can direct anyone you are dealing with to Peter Wright’s webpage explaining What is a 504 Plan supposed to specify. The Wright’s page aims to clearly summarize the purposes of 504 in relation to learning difficulties including READING, WRITING, and MATH.

The key for you is to realize 504 plans provide equal access whereas IEPs define your child’s full educational program, including goals for learning. If your child’s IEP is properly written, you don’t usually need both an IEP and a 504 plan. Often the IEPs are not well written and there is nothing in the laws that prevent your child from having a 504 plan.

Side Notes about Schools and Dyslexia

What is a 504 Plan

As a side note, we went through due process with our school system. Our school said “We don’t recognize dyslexia as a disability” –which you, and I, and our attorney, and anyone with any sense knows is hogwash. Dyslexia is clearly a learning disability as defined by the International Dyslexia Association, which can and should be identified by schools (http://vrolijklaw.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/much-ado-about-dyslexia-testing/ –you can direct those you are dealing with here too).

However, when going through due process, our attorney pointed out that we should keep our eye on the goal. We were not to be distracted by the school system’s “not really the issue” tactics. They will direct your energies into having your child designated as having dyslexia, when the REAL issue is getting educational services NOW. It is a delay tactic.

So, the approach of “Call it anything you want, but give us services now” works well. Our school system chose to call it a “Language-based Learning disability” — somehow thought they could avoid providing services if they didn’t call it dyslexia!! They wouldn’t address the question of What is a 504 Plan for nor provide an IEP, so we ended up having to fine for our child’s rights through the courts.

Try not to let yourself be too set on getting a diagnosis of “dyslexia.” What your child’s disability is called isn’t half as important as the services your child needs to receive. 😉

Hope that helps!
Sandy

Return to Questions

Aug 012013
 

There is SOOO MUCH Confusion about the Dyslexia Definition!

Dyslexia Definition by dictionary and diagnosis

Is the Dyslexia Definition THAT difficult to understand? … NO!

Does your child have TRUE dyslexia, or perhaps some OTHER condition causing his difficulty in learning to read? Not all problems that manifest themselves in an inability to read are ‘dyslexia’, so it’s important for you to put on your detective cap. Consider the possible causes of reading difficulties, which are not all dyslexia.

Dictionary Dyslexia Definition

The dictionary Dyslexia Definition is basically “difficulty with words” or “difficulty with reading.” SO, by the dictionary definition of dyslexia, any child who has reading problems has dyslexia. However, the specific learning disability called dyslexia does NOT include ALL reading difficulties. True dyslexia has specific conditions for diagnosis. This is where confusion about the Dyslexia Definition comes into play.

Diagnosis Dyslexia Definition

Symptoms of dyslexia are varied, but true dyslexia has a specific definition and can easily be diagnosed by a qualified examiner.  The International Dyslexia Association gives the following Dyslexia Definition:

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

Therefore, TRUE dyslexia is neurological — not visual. The Dyslexia Definition for the DIAGNOSIS is rooted in your child’s cognitive functions.

Other Conditions that Fit the Dictionary Dyslexia Definition

Your child’s reading problems could be caused by:

  • Ocular motor developmental problems (treated with vision therapy),
  • Scotopic Sensitivity (treated with colored glasses or dyslexia overlays),
  • Visual processing problems (treated with visual processing programs),
  • Visual perception issues (treated with vision therapy, weighted fonts, or colored overlays),
  • or Executive functioning disorder (treated with cognitive enhancement programs),
  • OR, TRUE dyslexia (characterized by a lack of phonemic awareness and requiring special reading instruction).

After Clarity on the Dyslexia Definition: What’s Next?

Have you had your child tested for phonemic awareness issues?
Or taken him to a developmental optometrist to see if he has ocular motor deficits?
What about visual perception or processing problems?

I can’t stress strongly enough that it is imperative that you consider different possible causes for your child’s reading difficulty.  You really NEED a comprehensive evaluation to get to the CAUSE of your child’s reading problems before you can FIX those problems.

When your child has been evaluated and has a deficit in phonemic awareness, he has true dyslexia. Otherwise, if your child does not have a phonemic awareness deficit, you may need a comprehensive neuropsychological exam, developmental eye exam, etc. to determine the true causes of your child’s reading difficulties.

The specific origin of your child’s problem with reading has everything to do with the type of remediation your child needs. It is important to know what type of problem is causing your child’s difficulty with reading, and often children have problems in more than one area. Finding one problem will not necessarily be the end of the struggles.

The most common symptom doesn’t necessarily fit into a Dyslexia Definition!

Whatever the main cause may be, children with reading problems often reverse numbers and letters. Most kids have a few random reversals here and there. However, problems with reversals are usually outgrown by time the child is 7.

However, these reversals are often based in visual perception or visual processing issues, not clinically diagnosable dyslexia! Don’t misunderstand. Kids with true dyslexia often have visual processing issues TOO. That means the child needs TWO kinds of help–one for the lack of phonemic awareness and another for the visual processing issues.

If your child has visual perception problems, playing family games like Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception can be a fun way to work on those skills. This is a “light weight” way to work on visual perception. Therefore, it’s recommended for fun more than actual remediation, but it’s one thing you can do to move in the right direction. 😉

I think there is a great deal of overlap between the Dyslexia Definition and Dyslexia Diagnosis as far as a child’s brain goes. That is why I think that so many kids display symptoms of several different types of reading issues.

Getting clear on the Dyslexia Definition and Dyslexia Diagnosis will help you get clear on how to help your child read!

Also, problems come in varying degrees, so some kids may not have big enough problems to propel parents into action until they encounter more difficult multi-syllable words on a regular basis (4th grade and above). To see a writing sample of a child with diagnosed dyslexia at nearly 7, and to Learn more about Symptoms of Dyslexia.



Many people think you should wait to see if a child outgrows the problem, but only 15% of children do. The other 85% end up needing some kind of help. The sooner help comes, the less time it will take to ‘rewire’ your child’s reading problems.

Early exploration for the cause of your child’s problems is better than waiting. It doesn’t hurt anything to give extra help early. However, a lack of help can mean struggling, lowering of self-esteem, frustration with academics, the development of phobias over schoolwork, tantrums, etc. for every year your child does not get the help he needs.

While This is NOT MEDICAL advise, the following are simple things you can do to see which Dyslexia Definition your child fits into:

1) Get a “developmental eye exam” –find a physician at the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at http://www.covd.org/ — the eye exams are among the cheaper options and it is good to have your child’s eyes checked anyway… note: you do not want JUST a vision check as many children with developmental ocular motor problems have 20/20 vision, so you do need a developmental specialist. You also have the option of trying to do vision therapy at home. The Optometric Extension Program Foundation provides assistance with home therapy for relatively less than you’ll pay someone else to provide vision therapy.

2) Vary lighting as you read — bright light vs. dim light, white light vs. yellow light can help determine if a light spectrum sensitivity is causing problems with reading. Also you can get some colored transparencies and try laying them over the pages as your child reads to test a variety of color spectrum choices.. this can help determine if Scotopic Sensitivity is an issue for your child. You can order a set of the Irlen overlays on Amazon. (See http://www.irlen.com/ for more information about Scotopic Sensitivity.)

3) Go through a systematic testing like found at the back of the book Reading Reflex to find out if your daughter knows her phonemes automatically or not. If not, you can get something like The Language Tool Kit & Manual378520: Language Tool Kit & Manual to work with your daughter on automatic recall of letter/sound combinations. IF your child doesn’t do well with the Reading Reflex testing, there may be some kind of neurological processing difficulty such as dyslexia.

A complete neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation is advised if your child’s problems exist after 7.5 to 8 years of age. Remember, children often have multiple issues. Finding one problem may not be the complete solution.

You might want to consider a complete evaluation if your insurance will cover it. That way you will be sure you have identified the processing issues your child has. A great place to ask questions about where to find a good evaluator is the Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IEP_guide/. While the IEP info does not pertain to homeschoolers, there are MANY special education advocates on this list from most states. That makes the group a great place to ask, “Who is a good evaluator near ?”

You might want to look at our Reading Programs recommended for home use in addressing dyslexia and Proven Packaged Reading Programs for more information.