Advice about Dyslexia

Parent Q&A

OUSD is reluctant to do IEP for 2nd grader with Dyslexia Feb 24, 2020 (4 responses below)
IEP for 9yo son diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADD WCCUSD Feb 10, 2020 (5 responses below)
Dyslexia / LD Support Group? Sep 19, 2018 (10 responses below)
Psychoeducational Eval for College Accommodations for Dyslexia? Nov 27, 2017 (6 responses below)
Educational Advocate/Consultant for dyslexia/ADHD? Oct 4, 2017 (1 responses below)
Assessment for dyslexic 7 year-old May 10, 2017 (1 responses below)
Vision Therapy for 8 year old? Sep 10, 2016 (5 responses below)
Dyslexia, Help!!! Aug 22, 2016 (4 responses below)
  • My daughter is in 2nd grade at an OUSD school. She was just diagnosed with Dyslexia/Dysgraphia after private testing. The school is reluctant to do an IEP.

    She is currently reading at grade level but has a hard time spelling and writing. We started tutoring over a year ago when she was struggling at the beginning of 1st grade. She meets with the tutor 1x a week because  of time and $$$ its been hard to do more sessions.

    1. I am curious about other OUSD families dealing with Dyslexia and what type of support is possible...

    2. I'm curious about tutoring and camp options. My goal is to make sure she still gets to do some of the activities and camps she enjoys in the summer so the 5 week 1/2 day camps don't really work.


    There are many Facebook groups that can be a great resource. Also

    look up decoding dyslexics ca and many other groups. 
    Sorry to tell you that this will be a lifelong battle with the schools. It’s unfortunate but they don’t acknowledge dyslexia...

    you have to constantly keep after them. Never give up.

    bezt Tammy  

    The school legally has to do an IEP when you notify them in writing - it is federal law. Scholl districts typically resist because it costs them so much money to do the testing. My daughter did the testing in Sept at BUSD after the administration resisted it. Of course the results confirmed what we thought. She has a learning deficit (difference). It was great to have a 17 page report on how her brain works! Everyone is different. Requesting the testing now is important because you'll want to insure that accommodations are in place to insure your student's success for the next 10+ years ahead of school. The school district is under no obligation to use the results of an outside/private testing service. They have to do their OWN test and follow the results of their own test by law. The student is taken out of class for the series of tests (usually over a 3+ day period). Push hard and you will get what you need for your student, as you are your student's most important ally.

    My kids are older but are both dyslexic and both are/were OUSD students. Feel free to reach out via my username if you want to talk. 

  • Last Friday we got a diagnosis that our son has dyslexia and ADD. I suspected in 1st grade that he had both and I was right! We went to a licensed neuro psychologist and had a full evaluation done. Now our challenge is figuring out what to do about school next year. We are in WCCUSD and my son is in 3rd grade. I have requested an IEP since we have diagnosis for two disabilities that are covered under IDEA, but I wanted to know what the experience is like for others who have children with diagnosed disabilities in WCCUSD. I have been told that even if the child has advanced grades and isn't that behind, by law, the school is required to accommodate him since he has two diagnosed disabilities that are covered under IDEA. We have also applied to two private schools, but I was told that they can discriminate against children with disabilities because they often don't have the resources to support them. So parents:

    1) What was your experience like getting an IEP?

    2) Did the IEP address all the suggested recommendations for accommodations?

    3) Did the IEP address multi-sensory education recommended for children with dyslexia?

    4) Did the district reimburse you for any tutoring with an education specialist?

    5) Do you have opinions on private versus public school for children with disabilities? We don't have unlimited funds and would most likely be unable to afford private school tuition without financial aid. 

    6) Are they any support groups for parents with children with ADD and dyslexia? This diagnosis has hit us like a brick and I'd love to be part of a supportive community than can provide guidance. 

    Thanks all. 

    Hi there.  My kid has had 3 assessments and 2 IEPs through WWCUSD. That's a lot of questions.  Please PM me and we can talk.  

    Hi there! My son got the same diagnosis a little earlier. We are in BUSD, so can't give you guidance in your district, but I can say that we followed the advice from DREDF ( and got an IEP meeting right away. The IEP itself was not the greatest (i think they never are) - I find that our school district "experts) have total lack of training in both ADD and dyslexia. But what really helped was:

    1) Contacting DREDF

    2) Getting a private, outside educational therapist (you can ping me to get the info for the one we use - it is kind of hard to find one). This therapist can help your kid w/ literacy, executive functioning, and self advocacy. This is really the best thing we ever did. Our son has seen her for 2-3 times a school week for years. 100% worth it!

    3) Retroactively asking the school district to reimburse us (with a lawyer's help)

    Unless your child is really severely dyslexic, I think the therapeutic schools (like Raskob) may not be a fit. Lots of people suggested Charles Armstrong but it's so far away and super expensive, so we didn't even consider it. 

    I attended one meeting of Decoding Dyslexia and it depressed me -- there were only a few parents and as I remember they were all homeschooling (not an option for me). 

    CHADD is a good organization for ADD. Sometimes there are good lectures at Holy Names - It's really important to look at research rather than other people's opinions about your kid's LD - staying informed is great! Feel free to ping me.

    FYI, it hasn't always been easy but my son is now 12 and in 7th grade and reads at grade level and has excellent reading comprehension skills! ADHD has proven to be more of a liability in school but this year, he's showing a lot of maturity and making friends and communicating well and even starting a club at (public) school. 

    It helps to put a request for an IEP in writing because it will let the district know that you are aware of your child's rights.  I would read Wright's Law website and use one of their sample letters for requesting the meeting.  Be prepared to fight for services for dyslexia if your son is at or above grade level.  School districts often deny services for children who are not showing academic weaknesses compared to their classmates.   It's possible that things will go smoothly but If you have difficulty getting a response from the school district you might want to hire an advocate to assist with the process.  Some school districts provide services for private school students but most do not.  Increasingly, private schools are employing learning specialists to help students with disabilities.  I hope this helps.  

  • We are looking for anyone who has done a therapy similar to the Tomatis Sound Therapy but also involves a visual element instead of sound only. We saw this idea once and are having a hard time finding it again. To be clear, Tomatoes is sound we are looking for one that is a combination of sound and visual. 

    We worked with Dr. Swain when she had a center in Walnut Creek. (She is based in Santa Rosa but I believe they send units to homes now).

    While listening to the tomatis kids would also be using building blocks or doing puzzles. Several blocks did help.  That was for the auditory processing.  For us in hindsight I wish we had had our child do as much speech as we had done Tomatis.  

    It sounds like you are looking for a combination of auditory processing and visual processing.  Im sorry I don't have a rec for that.

  • Dyslexia / LD Support Group?

    (10 replies)

    Does anyone know of any formal or informal East Bay parent groups that meet to discuss and troubleshoot their kids' learning disabilities? We are navigating our daughter's recent dyslexia diagnosis (which included taking her out of BUSD for second grade) and would really love to talk with other parents who have done this, or are doing it now. 

    RE: Dyslexia / LD Support Group? ()

    I remember wanting something like this as well some years ago but not finding anything - which was frustrating as we were looking for help and felt like we were on our own. You might want to check out Parents Education Network in the south bay - they sponsor a lot of great events and may be of help. Also, I would highly recommend looking at resources like the Dyslexia Center at UCSF, Dyslexic Advantage, and the Yale Center on Dyslexia. I'm also happy to talk to you about our family's journey with our daughter who is a high achieving, straight A dyslexic student in middle school. Best to you!

    RE: Dyslexia / LD Support Group? ()

    I would suggest reaching out to Decoding Dyslexia CA.  They have a Facebook group and regional support groups.  Also, Learning Ally has a Facebook group.  You will get great information from DDCa and lots of support.  Good luck!  It is overwhelming to get the diagnosis but your child will find his or her own workarounds and you will figure out the support.  You are off to a great start getting a diagnosis so young.  

    RE: Dyslexia / LD Support Group? ()

    I too would have liked this years ago, but am happy to be a resource to others.  I have two dyslexic children, one now an A student at her competitive college (acceptance rate 13%) and the other a A student at his high school.  

  • Hi All,

    My h.s. senior is applying to college! He has always had an IEP in Oakland Unified for specific learning disability (dyslexia). His testing is more than 3 years old. It looks like I will need to get him evaluated privately to qualify him for accommodations in college. Can anyone recommend an agency or individual who won't be super expensive? (I don't think the school will provide the testing because they are trying to "exit" him from services.)

    Thank you!!

    UC Berkeley will do testing as will the Ann Martin Center (sliding scale).

    I believe they need to eval him in order to exit. You might want to check on the process. 

    Yes, you've got to set up the testing on your own.  The school should, if they're conscientious, provide you with names of people who do the testing.

    Be sure to request accommodation for both the SAT and ACT tests.  Accommodation for the ACT is more useful to most students, but is also harder to obtain from the test-maker.

    Raymond Barglow

  • We are new to the area and have an elementary school aged child with dyslexia and ADHD. We are looking for names of reputable Educational Advocates or consultants. Any ideas would really helpful!

    Jane Ashley is SUPER. She was an absolute life saver for my dyslexic son with mild ADHD, who could not read a simple three letter word half way in third grade, and a year and a half later was reading AT GRADE level!.  She just quit her part time job at her school district so she can devote more time to really helping Dyslexic students. She is very active in the Statewide Dyslexia Association too.  She works from her home in South Berkeley where she has tons of materials she uses. Run and get a spot! Her phone number is (510) 601-9780. My friend who had older dyslexic students referred me to her and I practically parked on her lawn until she accepted my son.

  • Assessment for dyslexic 7 year-old

    (1 reply)

    I suspect my 7.5 year-old daughter is dyslexic and I am looking for (hopefully affordable) neuropsychological assessment options beyond what her school can do. I called the UC Berkeley clinic but they won't see children until they are 8. Does anyone have an experience with the the Wright Institute? Any other recommendations? Thank you. 

    I'm the parent of a now 17-year-old dyslexic. The earlier you intervene, the better. The hit to a kid's self esteem with reading differences is huge. The cost for a thorough assessment is worth it. Some medical insurances will help. Ann Martin's Child Center is budget friendly. We used Sandra Chao, PhD. 

    Getting accommodations is time consuming, but worthwhile -- again, sooner is better. 

    Our kid will never be a great speller, but thanks to a great educational therapist our kid is planning to apply to university to study applied mathematics. My biggest regret about our process was trying to work on reading one on one with my kid -- best left to experts. 

  • Vision Therapy for 8 year old?

    (5 replies)

    Has anyone done Vision Therapy thru Berkeley Biopic clinic? And did they find it helpful for their child? I also heard about a place called Visual Eyes in Pleasanton that has a pretty intensive program where you go 18 sessions. I'd love to hear any experiences. My son has dyslexia but most t's mostly the visual tracking and ocular motility that seems to be hard. Look forward to others experience. 

    Our son did vision therapy with Dr. Grisham in San Rafael. (  Dr. Grisham used to lead the binocular vision clinic at Cal.

    The therapy did help a lot. They do a number of tests, and show you exactly what they want to accomplish, and then re-test to measure progress.  Definitely worth doing, and doing now while he is younger. 

    The issues are not things that show up on a standard eye chart test, and things you would not necessarily notice, but can affect school performance.

    My son started vision therapy at at the Berkeley clinic, but then quit.  I found that they always ran late and the sessions were quite long since they were conducted by students who then had to refer to a senior person at the end.  On the advice of my son's occupational therapist, I took him to Rising Star Optometry in San Rafael.   They were much better.  They also have a San Francisco office.  My son was treated for convergence and tracking issues.  We completed 14 sessions.  The difference in his reading ability at the end of the sessions was phenomenal and made it worth the weekly drive to San Rafael.

    Speaking as a retired teacher at Kensington Elementary School, I can tell you the UC Berkeley Binocular Vision Clinic was ALWAYS my first ally in helping children and parents deal with dyslexia/tracking problems. It's a real godsend because it works! They raise the children's self esteem because the kids know "it's not my fault" and there is something they can do at home to help themselves. I cannot recommend it any higher.

  • Dyslexia, Help!!!

    (4 replies)

    Both me and my husband suspect that our 10 year old (going into 5th) daughter has dyslexia. She is in the Albany school district. I'm looking for information on specialists, organizations, what individual parents have done, what has helped, etc. We have known something is off in her learning since kindergarten and just now suspect dyslexia after years of trying many different things. I would be grateful for any information or recommendations. Its been very trying. 

    Thank you, Ewa 

    RE: Dyslexia, Help!!! ()

    I completely understand.  Which school are you in? My daughter is also dyslexic as well as me as I discovered through all my research. 

    We addended Marin about 2 years ago and had Sara Heller as her learning teacher and her awesome grade 5 teacher Mrs R. Donvon. They were both so helpful.

    In grade 5 my daughter was barely reading at a grade 4 level and hating reading, now she reads books that are 500 pages long or more with ease. 

    She also pasted grade 6 with mostly A's and one B. 

    I all belong to many Facebook groups that are so resourceful and I am constantly finding out more information daily.  Facebook " Decoding Dyslexia CA . Feel free to contact me if you would like to talk as I know the schools will not officially recognize this. 

    Cheers Tammy

    RE: Dyslexia, Help!!! ()


    My daughter has dyslexia too, was having great difficulty keeping up with reading assignments, and suffering from self-esteem issues related to hear reading struggles. She has been seeing a private tutor since 2nd grade. If you are looking for a reading tutor for your child, I would highly recommend Nancy Welt (nanwel [at] Nancy has really helped to support my daughter turn around her skills and confidence. Nancy has extensive training and establishes an easy rapport with her students. She keeps it fun and focused. I’m really impressed with the progress my daughter has made. Can’t recommend Nancy highly enough.  

    RE: Dyslexia, Help!!! ()

    Ask your school district for an evaluation.(See link at end of paragraph.) They have a certain timeline in which to get this done. Your daughter could qualify for special education-this is a good thing-and get the support she needs to learn and be the smart person she is but that her current learning methods don't show. For some very good and clear guidelines, contact DREDF, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund at They have free parent trainings the first part of every month, so this is perfect timing. They will help you immensely. Also, you can go to the IEP Assessment Letter here to use so you can get started with your request for evaluation right away. Good luck from a mom and advocate.

Parent Reviews

I have a son who is quite dyslexic. I didn’t catch it til third grade and can now kick myself for that. IF you are in public school, I believe you need to let the school do the first assessment. Not sure if they will still do that now or not, given the closures and CoVid. My son was in BUSD and I had to hound them to do the assessment, but they did, and it was a totally terrible assessment. Then, I asked for an IEE at District’s expense, which you are allowed, as I didn’t have $8K lying around. Finally, after I filed a complaint with CED because they dragged their feet for a year (yes, a year), they were forced by CED to okay the IEE. Dr. Terry Doyle in Rockridge did it, and she is the AUTHORITY, if she still practices.  Anyhow, cudos for you for seeking out an assessment sooner rather then later! It was HUGELY helpful for us to have the assessment, and for my son, plus we then got way more specialized and useful help, which finally got him to read. He went from K level to grade level within a year with Jane Ashley, our lifesaving Slingerland tutor. All the best! Again, kudos for looking at this sooner rather then later! And, our son totally resisted reading too. It’s just soooo hard when you have visual or auditory processing issues (his was auditory processing). 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Assessment for Dyslexia Support for Dyslexic Kids

Assessment for Dyslexia

Possible Dyslexia in 7-year-old

August 2013

My 7-year-old daughter may have dyslexia. We're just starting to research how to go about getting an assessment and all that. I have an appt. at the UCB Binocular Vision Clinic, but I'm wondering what the process has been like for you as a parent and for your child and what the experience has been--not necessarily with the UCB Clinic, but in general (I will post to the Recommendation Digest for specific resources). Also, if you've had to deal with the IEP program at OUSD, I'd like to know what that looked like.

We think our daughter might have dyslexia because:
- Her father has it.
- She's bright and does great in math, often getting 100% in math tests and homework, but struggles to read.She's testing ok for her grade, but I think it's because we've worked on it a lot.
- She started avoiding reading early in 1st grade and we've had lots of frustration (and fights!) over reading/writing at home.
- She transposes letters, reads words backwards, skips words, can't seem to get how to sound out words, even those she's read before, and gets stumped by words like ''of'' which she's seen 100s of times.
- While reading, she can NOT sit still, not even for 2 seconds. She can do math, draw, etc. for long periods w/o fidgeting but she's like a totally different kid when it's time to read.

I realize the above could just mean she's progressing at a slower rate than her peers, but given the family history with dyslexia, my husband sees a lot of his own experiences in her. Any advice or perspectives are much appreciated! Mom of Possible Dyslexic

Make an appointment at the UC Psychology Clinic for an evaluation - they will do testing and let you know definitively if she has dyslexia or not (sounds like yes) -and then give you guidance and resources. Good luck! been there

Your child almost certainly has the same brain differences as your husband, though perhaps to a different degree. Dyslexia (or developmental reading disorder) is a functional diagnosis and your daughter may or may not fit the criteria, even though she has the brain differences.

Schools often require a child to be two grade levels behind before they consider the child to have a disability that requires remediation. You don't want to let your daughter get to that point!

If she gets remediation now she can go forward as a strong reader who feels good about herself instead of a struggling reader who wonders why stuff that is easy for other kids is so hard for her. Schools rarely provide the kind of specific, targeted intervention that is needed to get dyslexic kids reading as well as non-dyslexic kids.

I did phonics work with my daughter till she was 10 and she made progress in reading, but remained a labored reader like your daughter, getting the small words wrong, sounding words out poorly, failing to notice endings like ing or ed and her writing showed backwards letters, random capitalization (or non-random--she always capitalized B because she couldn't tell b from d), no sense of spacing. It always baffled me that she could read ''biodiversity'' but not ''of''. Now I understand it. There is a visual processing component to dyslexia that is rarely addressed. See Stanislas Dehaene's Reading in the Brain. By the way, my daughter did VT at UCB Eye Care. They told me at the evaluation that my daughter had a processing issue that was unrelated to eyesight, as well as mild convergence insufficiency. We did VT for the convergence insufficiency, but it did nothing in terms of helping her to read. Boy can she follow the tip of a pencil to her nose with both eyes now, though!

I bought Lindamood Bell's Seeing Stars program and did it with her myself. It changed everything. While she still prefers to listen to audio books, she can now read anything without protest. She reads aloud at grade level (not super smoothly, but with good intonation, self-correcting if she makes errors and at a grade level pace). Her spelling is still poor, but it is now possible for her to learn to spell whereas spelling words simply did not stick before.

I waited way too long to get her help. If I could go back in time I would do Seeing Stars with her at age 6 or 7 and save her years of feeling bad about herself.

Oh, and she is a super bouncy kid, too, though also capable of focusing on things she likes. I have a lot of tricks in my bag on how to work on reading with bouncy kids. I'd be happy to share with you. Susan

Go get ''the gift of dyslexia'' book and devour it. great resource... I think. I'm still wrapping my head around it, myself, and my kid. taerg si sdrawkcab

It sounds like you're on the right track asking for an assessment at school. This can take time so I encourage you to start the process early in the school year and to be persistent. Be sure to put all your requests in writing with dates since everything related to the IEP process is governed by federal law and carries timelines. OUSD has an amazing resource for kids with dyslexia (although they don't use the term ''dyslexia''). There's a reading clinic available to kids who qualify that's fantastic. But, it will take a while for your daughter to qualify. Based on my experience, I would guess that she would get evaluated this year, possibly get some services at school this year, then get referred to the reading clinic next year if she qualifies.

My advice is not to hesitate to advocate for your child. Sometimes teachers may want to take time to get to know your child, try in class interventions before doing testing and give her time to develop. But, if you feel like that's not what's best and you have additional info (ie, the family history of dyslexia and extra help you've already given her with reading), please make your concerns known! Mom of Dyslexics

We went through the IEP program in OUSD (not for dyslexia, but dysgraphia). It took awhile to get it all done, and a certain amount of pushing to get started, but in the end it was well worth it. They do, as per Federal law, a full battery of testing (academic -- i.e. verbal and math -- but also things like auditory and visual motor), which is interpreted by a school psychologist. The parents and the child's teacher meet with the school psychologist and resource specialist to interpret the test results and to plan an IEP for the child, and the parents must sign their approval.

After that, at least at our elementary school, it's very smooth. Kids were pulled out of class for work in the garden, for music -- and, in our child's case, to go to the resource room for needed therapy (in this case, occupational therapy), so none of the kids teased my kid, they didn't even really seem to notice. If needed, children are given anything from preferential seating in the room and extra time for test-taking, to (in one child's case in our school) a full time aide. Parents are also given ideas for ways to help the child at home. My child was helped enormously by all of this, and tested out of the IEP at the end of 4th grade. He liked the resource teacher especially, very much. Pleased with our IEP

Hello, I tutor dyslexia students and urge you to have the evaluation done. Also I think that the book Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, MD (director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention and an expert on dyslexia) would be enormously helpful to you. You can get it at any bookstore or on Amazon; reasonably priced and in paperback. I can't help you with places to have the evaluation done but if you have had recommendations, follow those.

Hi - My 8 y/o daughter has been evaluated by her school and has an IEP (not in Oakland) and also recently completed a private evaluation. She is definitely dyslexic and sounds much like your child, except she also has some trouble with math. Some dyslexics have trouble with math in addition to language arts. I would recommend you ask in writing to have her assessed by her school for learning issues that might qualify her for an IEP or 504 plan. She may not qualify for services if she is at grade level, but may qualify for accommodations, such as extra time on tests as she gets older. Dyslexic kids read more slowly and process written information more slowly and may need these kind of accommodations. My daughter has been seen at the UCB binocular vision clinic as well. I can't say enough good things about them. They are fantastic, knowledgeable, caring and provided visual therapy that has helped her significantly.

I would recommend that after the school eval, you also consider getting a private neuropsychological evaluation. It can give you a lot more information than the school is likely to give you about what to do to help your daughter. My daughter has tried both Lindamood-Bell instruction and Slingerland and both have helped her significantly. Most teachers and even resource and reading teachers in the public schools don't really know how to teach dyslexic kids. There are people out there who do, but you need provide it yourself or advocate for your kid at school if they qualify for school-based services. There are also some great private schools such as Charles Armstrong or Star Academy if your family has the financial resources to provide that. Hope that gets you started. albanymom

Dyslexia re-testing and paperwork for young adult

Oct 2011

I'm looking for a recommendation for a psychologist or other medical professional who can do disability paperwork for a State test. My daughter was on a 504 plan all though school and even college but all her testing was done though the school district. Now that she is out of school we need to find someone who can fill out the paperwork for accommodation. Anyone have any recommendations or advise? thanks Maria

Two sliding pay scale alternatives: contact Elizabeth Milnes, PsyD, Executive Director at Alliant in Oakland or the Psychology Clinic at Tolman Hall, UC Berkeley Both have a supervising accredited person overseeing a person not yet fully accredited. Used them both successfully

How to get assessment for 10-year-old? (OUSD)

Jan 2010

I've recently begun to suspect that our brilliant 10 year old son may have at least a mild form of dyslexia. It's been easy to miss because he's been otherwise at such a high level in most areas but there are some consistent difficulties with spelling and new word attack that he's been having since 1st grade (and difficulty solving problems involving pattern-matching in preschool) and now I'm suspecting more is going on. He's currently in a private school without dyslexia assessment, so I'm wondering where I can go to have him assessed? We live in Oakland - will the OUSD assess him? Does insurance usually cover this type of assessment? Parents with mildly dyslexic children, does his difficulty profile sound familiar to you?

Jessica Lipkind is an excellent person from whom to get this assessment. She is careful, pays attention to detail, and is also conscious of avoiding needless expense. We had our son assessed by an older woman for a huge sum of money a few years ago. I wish I had known Jessica then, as we would have gotten a much better assessment for a fraction of the price. Jessica is young and gets on really well with kids, and has the empathy to relate well to parents. email: drjlipkind [at] anon

The quick answer is to make a written request to your school district. However, if your child is in private school, you might want to go with a private assessment through UC or a developmental psychologist -- your pediatrician can make a recommendation. I do think it is important to have the information -- if you are suspecting dyslexia it is pretty likely. One quick check you can do yourself is compare how your child reads individual words (on cards or signs) compared to how they read a book -- an intelligent child with a lot of knowledge of text will be able to read much better in context -- this was one of the clues I had to my child's learning differences. Also, does your child reverse letters or have particularly bad spelling when he writes? -- that is another clue. If you are worried about this, there probably is something worth getting checked -- if there is a learning difference, there are specific things your son can learn to do to compensate for the difference, and the sooner you begin the better. anon

How to get teenager diagnosed for dyslexia?

Dec 2009

How does one get their teenager diagnosed for dyslexia? My 16 year old son is a good student, well rounded and smart. However, he also has a problem that when he reads something, he doesn't always see the entire question. Consequentially, he sometimes misreads the question, thereby ensuring an incorrect answer.

This recently came up when going over questions that he got wrong on the PSAT test. When he tried to redo a question that he missed, it became clear that he would repeatedly misread the question. He would do this even when I told him to take his time and be careful. Only upon reading the question aloud would he correctly read it. This only happens periodically, not all of the time, but I am concerned that he might have a learning disability that needs to be addressed.

I, too, posess this problem, although I have hidden it all my life. I transpose numbers in a telephone address even though I am telling myself to be careful when writing it down. It is like a ''skip'' that I just can't help and it is not all of the time. I am worried for my son and wondering if there is anything I can do to help him. Any suggestions out there? Distressed Mom

My daughter's dyslexia was diagnosed at UC Berkeley's Psychology Clinic at Tolman Hall. They have a sliding scale. Her diagnosis of dyslexia allowed her to receive time and a half on tests, and other accommodations. Half a year before high school, I requested that the district have her tested. (Needless to say, this process can take some time). They like to look over outside testing but require their own assessments or won't provide accommodations. They tested and approved. This worked for a few years, and I would inform each teacher about it because the administration was slow in doing so. When she was a junior, I started the paperwork for her to get accommodations in taking the PSAT and SAT. Again, starting early is important as it can take several months for these agencies to approve extra time. Her counselor did not want to sign, and wanted to take away her accommodations-- we assumed it was because she was receiving good grades. It required sustained effort to keep the accommodations in place until she graduated.

I thought college would be easier, but I was wrong. Dyslexia evaluations are only good for about 3-4 years and then require retesting. By law they cannot be accepted when considered outdated. Unfortunately we were not informed about this, so that when she started college they did not want to give her accommodations at first, even though I had sent them her past tests several months before she started. I had her retested at Alliant (510 628-9065) because they were affordable and did not have as long a waiting period to get tested as UCB. (Although it took them time to actually get the report done. Note that with both testing places that she was tested by a graduate student with professional oversight by a licensed professional.)

The UC she attends has given her time and a half on tests, and a host of other accommodations if she needs them. You do have to be a strong advocate for your child or teen if you feel they need intervention. I do want you to know that my child was a slow reader, didn't pick up a book that was more than a dozen pages until she was 14, was (and is) a terrible speller, yet was accepted into several UCs and private schools. Dyslexia means she has to work twice as hard, but it doesn't mean she cannot do the work. Accommodations gave her the ability to succeed. Parents can model for their student requesting, at times insisting, on what is needed for them to succeed. Thriving with Dyslexia

There's so much you can do to help your child. You might start by getting a full assessment for learning disabilities. I recommend Cynthia Peterson, Jack Fahy or Carina Grandison. These three folks are all excellent at doing assessment of youth regarding learning disabilities. You can also check out the website at (Learning Disabilities Association of California) for some really great resources. Best of luck to you and your family. Michael

We took my son to Julie Jervey M.S, C.E.T for assessment 4 years ago. At that time she was on Domingo across from the Claremont Hotel. She was wonderful. Very warm, very thorough and very helpful with strategies, getting accommodations at school, etc. I can't recommend her highly enough! Laura

There may be a fatigue factor that kicks off the 'word-blindness' that comes up once in a while. If it doesn't happen often, and if his usual reading comprehension is OK, then it may not be a big problem, even though it's upsetting when it happens.

Reading for pleasure is a good measure of comprehension -- if he does read for pleasure, other than comix or car magazines, he's probably OK on comprehension.

If he doesn't read for pleasure, then you have a red flag: what could have been minor weakness triggered once in a while by fatigue might be something more. Since it sometimes shows up in a test situation, you're probably concerned that he may not be able to show what he can really do if the weakness sets in while he's doing it.

Getting a diagnosis could be useful: a) simply to know more about how his brain's working; and, b) to get accomodations, such as extra time, for tests.

You've noted, however, that more time doesn't help. He may just need a break, say 20 minutes, and then to come back to the task -- which could conceivably be an accomodation -- although an unusal one.

Psychoeducational testing is not inexpensive, so if the problem is irritating, but not hugely in the way of performance, it may be worth just accepting it and living with it.

If you choose testing, the Ann Martin Center in Oakland probably has the best rates. Corinne Gustafson of Reach for Learning in Albany may do this kind of assessment -- though she may not do the FULL psychoeducational assessment (which includes the services of a psychologist for the testing of IQ). The full assessment is required for official accomodations.

Jane McClure of McClure, Mallory, and Barron at 415 421 4177 may be a good contact both for testing and planning for college.

At the minimum, your son should aim to note and understand this problem, and be able to explain it clearly to himself and others as needed. The more he can do that, the more he can figure out his own ways around it or through it. Carolyn

Dyslexia assessment for 5-year-old

March 2009

I would like to have my five year old son assessed for dyslexia, mainly because we have a family history of dyslexia and he may be showing possible signs. I would prefer to have this done by a private reading specialist (?) or other expert before we get the school district involved. Ideally, I am looking for a person who could diagnose him and if he is dyslexic, work with us on how best to approach our school district with the information (my husband is dyslexic and has very negative memories about how his elementary schools dealt with his reading problems). Does can anybody refer a specialist who may make this type of diagnosis? Are there any individuals/agencies who will act as an advocate for parents? We are hoping to have this done before he enters kindergarten in the fall). Thank you! Concerned mama

Dear Concerned Mama, My third-grader has dyslexic tendencies. We began with the Binocular Vision Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Optometry. It's important to rule out all physical/organic issues before going on to learning techniques. We tried on our own to work with our daughter (having her read to us and spelling tasks). This helped, but we are now beginning to work with an Educational Therapist (ET). There are many psychologists, ETs, etc. who will test for you. My bias is to minimize testing (the public schools are big on tests) and focus on interventions. The Linda Mood Bell program is the most comprehensive and local program in Berkeley (that I found). They are big on testing too. It's good to begin early, but kids all learn to read differently and it's really important to keep up your reader's SELF-CONFIDENCE. Good luck. jr

I am a Diagnostic Teacher and have had experience with in-depth assessment and the diagnosis of dyslexia. Your questions are excellent, and the fact that there is a family history indicates that perhaps someone should take a closer look at your child. My first instinct would be to tell you that it is too early to test a five year old for dyslexia due to the fact that it would be developmentally appropriate for a child that age to not be reading yet, or to even have the pre-requisite skills in place. (I am fully aware that some 5 year olds are reading AND that schools are pushing this expectation earlier and earlier. However, it is also perfectly developmentally appropriate that some children don't have all those skills in place until they are closer to 7 yesars old.) On the other hand, with your family history, I would recommend that you share your specific concerns with an expert; what indicators have you seen in your child? It IS key to get an early diagnosis, but do proceed with caution. I would be happy to talk with you further about what you are seeing with your child and perhaps offer some suggestions. Nancy

A parent of two children with learning disabilities now ages 25 and 29. Here is what we did. Started with UC School of Optometry and followed with hiring a private Ed Psy to do assessments. This assessment was used in future battles with the schools and to guide the ED Therapist, David Berg, Berkeley.

School battles included accommodations and extended time for testing. Without the Ed testing establishing the learning disability (difference) you don't have a claim to accom-modations. Oh, and these tests came in handy when getting accommodations they tested SAT and in College. Daughter #1, Marshall Scholar in Physics and now in PhD program in Physics. Daughter #2 completed Master degree at Columbia.

Their success is attributable to the early diagnosis and treatment, their hard work and advocacy/assistance by parents. Dad jimmy

Support for Dyslexic Kids

What should I do for my 6th grade dyslexic kid?

March 2013

My bright, imaginative, bravely positive child has a hard time of it. He has been diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, writing disorder, math disorder, and exec function disorder. He has profoundly spiky scores. He reads at grade level and his comprehension is 98th percentile. His ability to decode nonsense words (so he can't 'fake' the test) is around 14th percentile. He never gets in trouble, is a quiet kid in class,but tested for being in the first percentile for ability to pay attention (yes, we're trying meds, but the Ritalin makes him kind of paranoid.) He comes home from his math class unable to understand what was taught that day, but tested 54th %tile when the school tested him. He tested below 5th %tile on ability to do basic math, but 76th %tile in algebra.

The public school district has refused (up until now) to give him an IEP or any services. Nice, huh? They simply used the 504 to accommodate him, so he graduated from fifth grade unable to write a sentence. However, if he dictates to me, he can write very nicely.

I put him into & removed him from Charles Armstrong school in second grade. It was solely remedial and bored him to tears. He is nonintuitive socially (no, not ASD), has poor self-esteem, and doesn't have lots of friends. I still remember his good friend saying ''YOU are in the science fair?'' two years ago.

We are currently selling our home and gathering ourselves to do whatever we need to do to help our child. We live in a high-performing area in the silicon valley and don't think that it's the right place for our family so we are looking elsewhere We are also applying to a dyslexia school called Westmark down in Encino, which we like because it's NOT ''five kids in a victorian house.'' My kid wants to just be a normal kid, and who doesn't? But we don't think that his 1,000-child middle school will do it. We can do whatever we want. We can travel the world and tutor him ourselves (this was actually the plan from his childhood,but it doesn't seem right for him now.) We have been living in a stuffy area with no children for 12 years, so at the least, we will move somewhere that has a sense of community and other kids to play with. But it's a bit hard to be actively selling your house with absolutely no idea about what to do. Does anybody have advice? My child tests for a 120-ish IQ on some things, and up to 130 on a verbal test or two. He's a bright child, but is NOT one of those children who has demonstrated brilliance and gifted talents early. He's just a normal kid with a great imagination. Got advice? Working hard on this one

Wow! It sounds complicated,but sounds like you're in a great position to be able to help your son. I'll defer to professionals for specifics, but wanted to make sure you know about text to speech software like Dragon Speak Naturally. (If you do try it, your son will need to spend time ''training'' it.) I also wanted you to know about The Center for Accessible Technology in Berkeley ( Also, have you looked into info about ''twice exceptional''/2e kids--gifted kids w/learning issues? It sounds to me like your school district is doing a serious disservice to your child! I wonder if you could get services in a different public school in a different district? Either way, having the diagnostic info. may be just what you need to help your son understand how he learns and to enable professionals to know how to teach him. Good luck!

I don't know how your school district has been able to get away with this. If your child is functioning at the level that you say he is, your district is most likely breaking the law. Most districts use the discrepancy model, where the child's IQ is matched against test scores. However, they are also required to use the functional model, where the child's ability to function (academically and socially)is considered. It sounds like he more than qualifies for an IEP. There are people who can help you with this: DREDF(510-644-2555 2212 Sixth Street Berkeley 94710 CA) has people who will help you fight your district for the services your son needs. So will Jan Grossman: jgedconsulting [at] If the district is unable to provide him with what they are REQUIRED to they will be responsible for paying for services elsewhere. In other words, should you choose to educate him at home or in some other capacity, the district will pay for it. They have been failing your son, and they are not allowed to do that. I advise you to start this process right now. Also, find out your rights by reading the Special Education Rights and Responsibilities book by Community Alliance For Special Education. Best of luck. Been There

Have you considered homeschooling? Lots of dyslexic kids end up being homeschooled. It is so hard to meet their needs in a traditional classroom, especially when you throw ADHD into the mix. I have a dyslexic daughter (7th grade) who also has attentional issues. Homeschooling has allowed us to work on areas of difficulty but has also given her time to do the things she loves (listen to a lot of books on tape, spend hours on her artwork). And it has protected her from feeling bad about herself. By the way, since you mention math as a difficulty, check out JUMP Math. It has worked great for my daughter. I'd be happy to talk with you about homeschooling if you are interested. Susan

Check out The website has great webcasts with tons of information. Years of paying for a Baron tutor helped! Also, we ended up moving to a different school district when my son was entering 4th grade. My son came with a 504 and ended up with an IEP within months. His new district Walnut Creek School District recognized my son's need immediately. West Contra Costa Unified School District was very difficult. In 2nd grade, we paid to have him tested and then WCCUSD finally provided him with a 504 plan. Our experience is that moving to another District can help. My son is thriving in 7th grade now and has been on honor role since 6th grade. Middle school seems to be a better fit for him - not so much emphasis on rote memorization like spelling and multiplication tables and more emphasis on concepts. My son has found ways to adapt to his limits - that is what he will need in life to succeed. Keep on fighting until you find something that works for your son. This year my son total thrived in Odyssey of the Mind - see mpxx

Programs and therapy for dyslexic 7 year old

Oct 2012

Our bright 7 year old has been referred out for testing for dyslexia. Searching the archives many reviews are more than 3 -5 years old - does someone have current or recent experience with the following programs/therapies: Bright Solutions for Dyslexia, Lindamood Bell, Raskob Institute - is one better than the other? approximate costs? I should note our child is in a small private school so we don't have the advantages of public school for IEP etc....thanks so much in advance!!! bummed mama

In terms of testing I would recommend the UC Psych clinic -- my child has now had two rounds of testing there (one at 9, one at 15) and they do a good job. The supervisors work with the students to make sure the testing is thorough. I've heard good things about the Ann Martin Center as well. You might also want to consider testing through the school district. I believe they are responsible for all the children in the district. We didn't go that route because our child was significantly above grade level in spite of the learning differences, due to being gifted, and the district would only test students who were below grade level. Each situation is different. We found help through OTs Gail Gordon and Liz Isono, and through the UC binocular vision clinic. With the right help things do get better, many children can learn to self-accommodate and work around their learning differences. anon

My eight year old daughter is dyslexic and went to lindamood bell the summer between second and third grade. Its expensive (10k +), but was effective in making a difference. She isn't quite at grade level, but is markedly improved and is now able to read independently. She reads by herself every night reinforceing the progress. Before resorting to lmb we tried a private reading tutor with impressive credentials. That was expensive too (over $80 an hour), but made almost no difference in her progress. I don't know of it is the lmb program materials or just the intense immersion of one on one work four hours a day five days a week for six weeks that did it. Whatever it was it was worth it. She attended the Berkeley center which was pretty disorganized. For the price, I expected something more together. If you choose lmb, may want to make sure the person over seeing your child's progress will be the same person throughout. I received progress reports from three different people over six weeks and never had the sense that the fill ins really knew what was going on with my kid. Good luck! Been there.

First of all, don't be bummed! Dyslexics are known to be very intelligent. Gavin Newsom and Stephen Speilberg are dyslexic among many others (including me.) You can still get tested by the public school even though your child goes to a private school. Call your local school and they should tell you what you need to do. You probably need to go to the district office. With that said, it is difficult to get the diagnosis of dyslexia from the public school system. This is because they are required by law to pay for treatment and they have no money.

You don't say what is the presenting problem with your child. Sometimes this can be a fairly easy fix and not really dyslexia. I am assuming since your child is 7, that they are having trouble learning to read. So you can spend your money getting a diagnosis, or you can just spend your money getting your child help. I think you should find a good educational therapist to work with your child. I don't know much about Bright Solutions, so I have no advice for that. Raskob has ed. therapists who can tutor your child, as well as private ed therapists. You would just pay hourly. There are plenty of excellent private ed therapists as well. They would also charge hourly. I wouldn't go with a 'retired teacher' type. Ed therapists have unique training. Linda Mood Bell is good, but expensive. The good thing about the ed therapists is that they tailor their tutoring to your child's specific needs. LMB brings you through their 'program' taught by recent college grads who they pay $15/hour. The program is good, but not tailored to your child. The ed therapist can also notice if it is eye tracking and refer you to an eye doctor that would help with that.

So much more I could say. My daughter also was slow to read. I had her see a private ed therapist when she was in 1st grade for reading, and then again in 4th and 5th for help with her writing. She is now doing great in school, but will probably always be a poor speller. Is she mildly dyslexic, probably. Does she need more time on tests? No. I thought it was more important to get her to the place she could do well in school than give her a leaning disabled lable. Depending on how it goes with whatever you go with, then I would worry about the diagnosis. I've heard if you have insurance through UC then insurance would pay for this. Otherwise it is out of pocket. Hope this all makes sense Best of Luck

There is a school in Concord called Hope Academy that specializes in dyslexia. They are a small, private school but also offer testing and tutoring for dyslexia. I suggest you have him tested by a good neuropsychologist. Been there

My 13 year son used the Barton System. He was tested by a Barton Specialist as well as by his school at the end of 1st grade when he was 7. He tested as being moderately to severely dyslexic per the Barton Specialist. Susan Barton will send you a list of testing specialists if you ask. He also tested at the Binocular Vision clinic in Berkeley.

He did the Barton System from 2-5 grades and now is just in special Ed as a 7th grader. He never finished the program but is doing very well now academically w/the two years of individual tutoring. Costs were reasonable @ $25/hr for tutoring 1 to 2x a week. As my son got older, accomdations seem to be sufficient (i.e., using a computer, math tables for mulitplcation or calculator, etc.). Granted his spelling still stinks, but so does mine (because he inherited his dyslexia from me), but I was able to get a MS/BS in engineering despite my bad spelling. Cyntia

15 yr old son just diagnosed with dyslexia (Albany)

August 2010

My 15 yr old son will be starting 10th grade next week. Over the summer he was diagnosed with dyslexia. I am totally surprised by it. He is a very bright kid and does amazingly well on standardized tests but his grades at Albany High are totally average. He put off doing homework like mad-I assumed he was just lazy-but now I know that doing it is really harder for him than I thought. We have no dyslexia in the family and I have no idea what this means as far as next steps. What do we do now? Tell his teachers when school starts but what exactly will that mean as far as homework, expectations around reading assignments, testing etc? mom of two

Getting accommodations from the school could help your son a great deal -- not just in high school, but afterward too. Many junior colleges and even U.C. Berkeley have programs to help kids with learning disabilities. However, because many students who don't have disabilities try to take advantage of these programs, things have tightened up in terms of people taking it on faith that their is a problem. The process to get your son accommodations will be slow, but just take it step by step. The first step is telling your school in writing that your son is dyslexic (if possible include his evaluation), and request an assessment from the school. Your goal is to get a 504 plan or an IEP, and that will help a great deal when it's time for him to attend college. You'll find lots online about starting the process toward getting an IEP. Good luck! Been there

Hi - Education Advocates at DREDF (Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund) can give you information and help on approaching the school. Just give us a call at 510-644-2555. We get very busy at the beginning of the school year, but do our best to get back to callers as soon as possible. RM, Education Advocate

Your posting raises several questions. First, how are you and your son reacting to and processing this information. It is important that your son understands that dyslexia does NOT mean he has any less ability to do very well in school - rather the fact is that working with written language presents certain challenges for him (and that he is not lazy). With the appropriate supports and methods these challenges can be addressed.

Working with an experienced learning specialist could direct your family on the best study methods and resources for your son and guide him to work to his full potential. For example, having recorded textbooks that he can listen to could make a significant difference. The national educational therapy group and also the East Bay learning disability group have directories (along with other resources). I am a member of both organizations.

Regarding the school - the process is to work with the school counselor and/or psychologist - inform them that you had this assessment done and you would like to request a meeting with them to discuss the appropriate services for your son. It is a legal process and the school may or may not determine that your son has a disability. There is a difference between having dyslexia and determining that the dyslexia significantly interferes with the education to a degree that it becomes a legal disability. This can be a complex issue, the law involved is IDEA (Individual with Disabilities in Education Act). A good starting point to become familiar with this law is at

I hope this starts you on the road to incorporating this new information. S.U., Educational Therapist

My daughter age 16 who was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 8 followed a program called ''Path to Reading'' ( Carrie Kartman in Albany (510) 524-1842 was her tutor for years, learned about the program and trained in it specifically to help my daughter. I highly recommend her. After 6 weeks of following it my daughter jumped 2 grade levels in reading. She still struggles and does not often read for pleasure but it made the difference for her in being able to keep up with school work. Her LD is visual perception, spacial awareness. I'm not sure if it would work for your son but it is worth considering. Definitely pursue the resource options at school. Good luck! Jennifer

To the parent whose son was diagnosed with dyslexia, begin by getting a written assessment either through the high school, or private testing. Important who signs the evaluation, as they must be certified.(Check out sliding scale at UCB's Tolman Hall clinic and Aliant in Oakland, both have provided good service for us.) This official paperwork is required to get extra time in high school for testing, note taking by another student, and other accommodations. Remember that for ACT or SAT testing, they require an extra couple of months to approve more time, so send in the special application in advance/beginning of the school year. Ideally meet with high school admin before the year starts to discuss accommodations, have them issue a written note and you then can meet with each of your son's teachers with the note. The school admin is supposed to notify teachers, but doesn't always do so. Begin the school year with a tutor identified for each subject you think might be difficult for your son. By the time you've realized he's having problems and locate a tutor, too much time goes by. Better to have support in place, but you can limit it to every other week and ramp up when necessary. Having you or someone in place as an editor to go over student's written homework text (usually at the last minute) is useful, so those spelling errors are corrected. With extra testing time and tutoring support, dyslexia can be managed, though student has to work harder than most of their peers. (BTW, most colleges require an up-to-date evaluation for freshmen accommodations and will not accept an older report, though won't tell you ahead of time. Send your kid's evaluation right after you accept the college offer and ask for approval.) Mom w/ dyslexic kid doing well at University

Bill Baldyga works with older dyslexic kids. He's an educational therapist and can give you a better idea on the next steps to take. He's helped our daughter and I recommend him highly. He can be reached at: Best of luck to you and your son.

Dyslexia Resources for 8-year-old

Feb 2008

I'm wondering if there are parents out there whose kids have dyslexia who can help me figure out how to connect with resources, information, and support. My 8 year old has dyslexia, and it would be great to be in touch with other parents who are dealing with the same thing. I feel like we've been lucky so far in getting him diagnosed early, and getting hooked up with special ed. and other support. Thanks in advance!

Hi, I have a lot of websites and nonprofit information, I have read lots of books and have been to conferences. What information are you looking for? Lori

I am also the mother of an 8-year-old dyslexic. I would welcome the opportunity to talk with other parents of dyslexics. Karen

I have a 9 yr old son with dyslexia. We're in OUSD and would be happy to talk with you and share ideas etc. I'm assuming you know the basics in terms of getting services etc... because you've gotten them and a diagnosis. If you're in Oakland, I would very much like to compare notes on what you're getting in terms of services. Even if you're in another school district it would be great to connect. Marguerite

Call Stellar Academy in Newark, it's a school for kids with Dyslexia...the number is 797-2227. The office person I recently spoke with is named Marlene. She was a world of info (I was calling about another issue as well). Good luck, anon mom

Dyslexia in 11-year-old

Nov 2006

Our son was recently diagnosed with dyslexia. He is 11 years old and his reading comprehension is very good, but he is a slow reader and he never chooses to read, except for comic books and magazines with lots of ads. We have read that dyslexics who are doing well in school early on may have trouble in high school and college. Does anyone with experience with this issue know what we could be doing to help our son (he doesn't want to do anything like tutoring or classes because he doen't feel he has a problem)? What happened with your child as they got older and the reading and writing demands got bigger? Thanks anon

While I do not have specific advice for older kids with dyslexia and how it affects their schooling in the upper grades (I am actually very interested in any advice that my come through about this as my dyslexic son will be entering 6th grade at King next year), but I would like to extend my email address to you in hopes that we can connect and possibly provide each other with some support in navigating what may be a pretty rocky road ahead. It may also be nice for the boys to know that they are not the only ones who struggle with this! Sandra

The fact that his comprehension is good is wonderful. That will be a real bonus for him. However, when the demands of reading become more intense someone who reads slowly can fall further and further behind, get discouraged and frustrated. I am wondering if he would be willing to try doing some simple movement activities at home that help organize his brain so it is easier to read faster. The idea is that there isn't anything ''wrong'' with him to fix, but instead this is a skill that he is going to need to use a lot of as he gets older and it might be wise to make it easier now instead of when he has to use it more. You might want to check out the website or for lots of information on an approach to working with learning differences called HANDLE. It is gentle, respectful, developmental, non invasive and the activities are done at home. My children have both done it and have seen such great results that I trained in the approach and now work with others. Sindy

Parent of dyslexic 11 year-old, I can share my personal experience and my professional experience. I was not diagnosed with dyslexia until grad school. I managed my way through high school by accepting very low academic expectations from my teachers and parents and myself. I did not like to read or to write, they both took a great deal of energy. And I never seemed to get as much back from it than I put in. I went to art school to avoid academics and still be successful. These 'work a rounds' of getting my formal education worked, I thought, for that time in my life.

When I went to grad school it all fell apart. I had to read and write a lot. And it was expected that I express myself clearly through writing. Through grad school I had to teach myself how to write a paper. There was just no way to avoid it. Finally facing this demand was very stressful but opened up so much to me. Looking back, if I would have learned how to read for pleasure and write when I was younger I think the opportunities that life offers would have been greater and more numerous.

I am very happy with the career I finally ended up in. It took a long time to get to this place and I would say it has not been an easy way to go about it.

As for your son, I am an Educational Therapist who specializes in working with people with dyslexia. It is common for dyslexics to have high scores with reading comprehension along with low fluency scores and poor decoding skills. As students progress through the grades, the readings are more and more difficult and of greater length. One aspect for students who avoid reading is that they do not build up an adequate vocabulary and thus struggle as academic demands become greater.

I have worked with several dyslexic adults who thought they reached a glass ceiling in their career because of their weak writing skills. Maybe your son will pursue a career path that will not require strong reading and writing skill's, even so, I personally think there are so many wonderful ideas and feelings and knowledge expressed only through the written word, that to avoid this way to enhance life is rather sad. I wish I had been open to that part of our world sooner in life Bill

Dyslexic? 1st Grader - How much to do?

April 2006

My 6.5-year-old daughter is in 1st grade. She is having a hard time learning to read and write, and is at the bottom of her class. We've talked to her teachers, had a reading tutor, and some educational testing. Everyone's been hesitant to label it, but dyslexia has been mentioned. We've also been told that she is attentive, diligent and seems bright enough in other subjects, such as math and spoken language. She is making slow progress. We are willing to work with her ourselves, and get help for her from others people. We're about to start regular work with a learning specialist.

What bothers me is what learning specialists and testers tell us. They say that we have caught this at a good time, and with as little as a few months of intervention now, she will be fine. (This fairly short term estimate, coupled with the results of the testing, indicate she isn't far behind expectations for her age.) However, when I ask what would happen if we just wait, I am told dire consequences are in her future. The threatened consequences include ''She'll never be a good reader, and struggle with reading for the rest of her life'' and ''Fluent reading is required by third grade, and she will fall far behind her class,'' etc. I simply don't believe this, and it undermines my confidence in them and their conclusions. Of course, they report success stories, but I wonder if these children would have learned to read just fine in any case.

Why don't I believe them? First, I was a poor reader until 4th grade, had no intervention of any kind, and was an excellent reader by the time I was 12. Second, I have friends who report a diversity of early reading skills, from people who could read by the time they were 4 to people who struggled until they were 9, (Some of whom describe themselves as dyslexic) but all of whom read well now. In fact, no one I know (without obvious, significant cognitive disabilities) did not learn to read just fine. My friends may be a biased sample, but I went to an average public elementary school, and none of my classmates failed to learn to read.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? In particular, did anyone simple wait, and what happened? Intervention Skeptic

We knew in first grade that my son had a problem and might have a learning disability but held off going through the assessment process because we were skeptical. After paying for a lot of private ed therapy to try to bring him up to speed, seeing how agonizingly slow the process was going, and then getting the diagnosis anyway, I think we could have just as easily started the ball rolling sooner. He is in third grade now and holding his own in a very high performing classroom but I don't think he would be doing as well as he is if we hadn't started the process early.

If you are doubtful, I would recommend that you remediate now and then request an evaluation at the beginning of 2nd grade if you don't see improvement. It might be that after a few months of ed therapy, your daughter begins reading at or near grade level. If not, you still have the option of getting her an assessment which will tell you how much of a gap there is between her intelligence and her reading speed and fluency. If the gap is a big one, then you need services and your public school is legally required to provide them.

It may take a few months or a few years because every child is different. You won't know until you try.

Trust me, early intervention is really the best approach. mom of third grader

Our daughter fell behind in school in second grade. We had her tested and then began rigorous summer sessions at Lindamood-Bell. I think the sessions helped her reading skills but they didn't make her enthusiastic about reading. She dreads it, and she's in seventh grade. I think your working with her daily is the best thing if you have the patience and skills to do it, and somehow make it fun for your child instead of a task.

In retrospect, LMB helped my child with her technical skills but did not convince her to WANT to read. Mom to dyslexic

While it is unfortunate that in our society we force six-year-olds to keep up with a grading curve and put unfair pressure on them to develop at the same time and in the same ways as their peers, it may be nessiccery to get your daughter help to keep her from being unhappy (more than regular child unhappiness being in a place like a Western school). You must realize that times have changed since you were a child.

Then, a child could be a little slow in certain areas but would catch up eventually.

Now, if a child can't read by third grade, teachers tend to treat them like their life is over. I think that if it were in a better situation, a child would learn to read at their own pace and way. However, in our schools, it does not work like that. If a child is behind, they tend to stay that way. Try to get her help without sending the message that she has done something wrong or that it' her fault she can't read. The standards and starting younger and younger now, and you don't want her to be tagged as a ''behind'' child. My Two Cents Anna

In Waldorf education, the children begin to read when they are ready. Reading is introduced in 1st grade (7years old). Most kids are reading by 3rd-4th grades ( 9 -10 years old). That is part of the reason we picked this form of education, no early pressure to perform. anon

I'm not sure what current interventions are like, but I can tell you a little about what it's like to be a dislexic learning to read. When I was growing up, learning differences were still the frontier, but by the time I was in third grade my teachers had me tested and diagnosed and I started special tutoring. It was a very painful and embarassing process and I hated being set apart from my friends in that way. I am well aware now, of course, that the tutoring was just what I needed and allowed me to use my intellect and see reading and writing as tools rather than as impossibilities. I was able to go one to be one of the smart kids. My mom was of a generation who grew up long before learning disabilities were understood, and though she is very intelligent, she has always thought of herself as stupid, in large part because she could not read until very late.

When I read your concerns about your daughter, these thoughts went through my head: 1) I wish I'd had intervention earlier. By the third grade, all my friends were reading but I was not and I felt stupid. It was hard work to learn, and just as hard to shake off the self image of being stupid. I'm using that harsh word because it was a reality for me. 2) I recently heard an elementary school teacher describe third grade as the point when kids are no longer learning to read, but instead reading to learn. It's a pretty critical turning point, and if you wait your daughter may be behind at that point. 3) If it's a reasonably short-term intervention and you can afford it, why not? Almost all of the kids are learning to read in first grade.

Your daughter will be learning in her own way, but at the same time. loves to read

I know it is hard to believe the reading specialists, but what they are saying is based on the research done at the Yale School of Medicine by Dr. Sally Shaywitz. She is the author of ''Overcoming Dyslexia''--definitely read it. The brain imaging done at Yale supports what they are telling you. Here is the catch. You can't really tell if someone is dyslexic without the brain imaging, but if they are and the interventions are not done early there are dire consequences (very throughly documented at Yale). It sounds like you developed at a slower pace and perhaps that is true of your daughter, but why take the chance?

If she is dyslexic and does not get the intervention early she will struggle her whole life (although even those who get late intervention can make improvements and be successful it is painful--also well documented by Yale). My daughter had a 9 month reading intervention in 2nd grade, and it was amazing. She now reads at a 6th grade level in 3rd grade and her whole personality changed. I understand. Good Luck

You may be right, that it's too soon to label your daughter as deficient. I simply couldn't learn to read more than a handful of short words until January of first grade. My mom was alarmed because her other children wre reading before kindergarten. She had read to me constantly and even used flashcards. Then suddenly I took off with reading and never looked back. The doctor told my mom that it was probably just that a certain kind of neurological connection had occurred.

My limited experience as a volunteer in Albany public schools is that in first through third grade, English-speaking students vary widely in their ability to read and write, but pretty much everyone's reached at least the same level of basics by fourth grade. Some of the most fluent readers and writers in first grade don't stay so far ahead of the pack. And academic standards have gotten higher and harder recently. Your daughter may not really be far behind the average.

That said, don't give up the idea of using your school's reading specialists. They are likely to know a lot about norms, brain development, and different methods of teaching the brain different things. This could be very helpful. concerned mom

Your daughter sounds like my daughter did in first grade. I won't give you all the year by year details but will tell you that during the summer before 4th grade, my daughter's reading level tested almost two years behind. In 4th grade, IEP resources were finally made available to her. At one point I asked a resource specialist how my daughter had been doing so well. She said, it's because she's so bright that her ability to comprehend compensated for the words she was missing. My daughter has always loved books on tape but has never liked to read. This might have been different had she had help earlier. When my daughter was in 6th grade, I found out that in elementary school she thought she was dumb because she couldn't read. Her self-esteem was definitely impacted.

She is now in 7th grade and doing very well. She has just been through the IEP retest process. She no longer qualifies for IEP though she will get 504 accomodation (i.e., more time for taking tests).

I would take the help now. You could wait and your daughter could be just fine by the end of third grade. On the other hand, is getting extra help now going to hurt her? My daughter's story tells you the impact of waiting if it's not developmental. A possible middle ground would be to see how she's doing in December of her 2nd grade year. I would not wait longer than that. Mom who wishes she had pushed harder earlier

Dear skeptic. Your daughter is lucky to have concerned parents. I can't speak to what your friends have told you (maybe they are a bit too optimistic) but I can tell you about my own experience. I was dxed with dyslexia at the same age as your daughter. My mother picked up on it and had to convince my school to get me tested (1976/77 - there was less support then). I showed poor eye hand coordination, had trouble following a line on a page, reversing some words, poor reading comprehension, and terrible spelling. Also, my math skills were affected (word problems, etc). My parents opted for intensive after school education with a local university special ed program and resource teaching two hours out of the day until 6th grade. The end result was, by the time I was in 7th grade, my reading comprehension testing was 95 % for my age and all of the other skills had improved so I stopped special schooling.

I'm so glad my parents addressed the problem then, instead of waiting. I doubt my reading comprehension problem would have reversed itself. I can't imagine what it would have been like getting that kind of intense after school/ in school help later on in life (pre teen/teen years) when kids label each other and your peers opinions are so important. As I got older (6/7th grade) I started to resist the after school program - I threatened to quit because I wanted to hang out with my friends. So, what I'm trying to say is take advantage of your child's developmental age. 6.5 is an easy age to work with (eager to learn).

Later, I had problems in college chemistry, physics (word problems!), statistic's, and advanced scientific journal articles. Luckily my learning disability was already acknowledged and I was able to get extended time on exams - which saved me - I was able to reread things and move methodically threw exams. Also, I learned how to take exams and read journals via special resource classes. It's hard to know what's best for your family, but I think I benefited from my parents swift action.

Anyway, what do you have too loose? You may just have to let go of your notions/ resistance and accept this for what it is and move forward. Your child will be better off for it. Good luck! nancy

This is not advice, but just some experience sharing. I have a daughter like yours -- 6.5 years old and in 1st grade. We finally had her tested for dyslexia in January and started her in tutoring immediately. While I am confident she would achieve a ''normal'' speed at reading and writing in time, our issue was more with her self- confidence. At her public school it was obvious to her that her reading was not up to par, though she did not qualify for state assistance. The teachers tried to stay positive, but were worried about her progress in the coming years. What pushed us finally to testing and tutoring was that she began criticizing herself on matters not related to reading, she stopped wanting to try new things because she knew she would fail, etc. She dreaded school (even from KG -- can you imagine a kid not wanting to go to KG?). Just broke our hearts. As much as we tried, we found we were not able to tutor her successfully with reading, and pretty soon our pep talks had no effect either. The tutoring has made an enormous difference. In three months her reading has improved 200% (no exaggeration here) -- but more importantly -- her self confidence has soared with reading and beyond! I interviewed a number of tutors, and found someone I felt would match her temperament. We travel well out to Alamo from North Berkeley twice a week, I have had to make changes to my full time work schedule, but I would not give it up for one minute. As for us, my husband and I and our other daughter (they are twins) picked up reading quickly and easily at early ages -- my husband attended public school (in Japan) and me a spartan little Catholic school in Sacramento. We frame our one daughter's struggle with reading as one of those unique individual differences between the girls and they accept it. Good luck and drop a line if you want to chat! amy

Good grief! Your story conveys just one of a myriad of reasons why people choose to homeschool! It is not just hippies and fundamentalist Christians anymore; it is people in the mainstream, lots of them! Lately it seems that they are running away from the school system in droves. I read stories such as yours and it is clear why this is happening. I won't go on any further about homeschooling since this may not be an option for you, but I had to open with this statement since it speaks to your story so directly. Children all learn to walk, talk, read, write, run, climb, sing, etc., at various paces. One child is reading at three, but has severe difficulties in social situations. Another doesn't really read fluently until they are seven, but they have a special grace when dealing with others. One child can hit a ball with a bat when they are three, another cannot at seven. Is there something wrong with any of these children? Is the younger child most certainly gifted, and the older child deficient? No, of course not, they are unique in their abilities and in their interests, and in my opinion, no one should assume that a child is either gifted or deficient by using age as their guide. The people you speak of assume that this is the case with your daughter. Hmm, 1st grade and not reading...must be something wrong with her. I'm long winded- see part two for remainder of my post. Happy to be homeschooling

Part Two: Most likely the only problem that your child has is she does not fit into the box that the school system wants (needs) her to fit into. How can they possibly educate the masses if not everyone it reading at the same age, same grade, same time? And let's not forget the new mantra, No Child Left Behind. I can't tell you how much it angered me to read some of the erroneous information that they were telling you. I applaud you for being savvy enough to question them, and to place this post on BPN. It angers and it saddens me deeply to think of all the parents out there that don't think to question the educational authority. They just blindly follow the so-called experts in education at the expense of their child's self-esteem and quality of life as a child. At a time in your daughter's life when she could be experiencing the wonders of the world around her, and learning the joy of learning, she is getting the message that there is something wrong with her, that she doesn't fit in, and that she needs special intervention so she doesn't fall behind. I just can't express just how wrong, even twisted, this thinking is. I could go on about this, but I think I have conveyed what I needed to. I wish you and your family a great life together, and I hope that you find the strength of mind to follow your intellectual and mothering instincts. Suggested Reading: Better Late than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education Raymond S. Moore, Dennis R. Moore, and Dorothy N. Moore Dumbing us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education John Taylor Gatto (Not a pleasant read if you think that government-run schools have your child's best interest in mind.) * * * Happy to be homeschooling