Which School for Dyslexic Child?
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Hi, My just turned 6 year old daughter is in the process of getting assessed for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and possible ADHD. She is currently in Kindergarten. I was wondering if anyone in the community has a positive experience currently in a private school (we are moving to Alameda and hope to find a school no more than 25minute drive) that is supportive and accommodating to their child with Dyslexia. I've seen the reviews for Raskov but they start from 2nd grade, and we are trying to find a school that would accept my daughter this school year and also be a place where she can be supported and still engaged. She is a super bright kid (even her teachers agree)- exceptional in some areas- beyond her years- but struggling in reading, handwriting, audio memory, and time management/organization. Also anyone have experience with the public school system in Alameda who has a child with Dyslexia- do you feel supported? Did you keep your child in public or were forced to take them out to homeschool or private school? Thanks, R.
Our 9 year old daughter has dyslexia and we've been very happy with the response and support we've received from Beacon Day School in Oakland. The school noticed that there was an issue as early as kindergarten and we confirmed it in first grade. Beacon's learning specialist provided support, including information about testing and options for helping our daughter. We have an accommodation plan that our daughter's teacher has been very diligent about implementing. The school has been willing to coordinate with our outside (privately hired) Educational Therapist which has been very helpful. Beacon's approach for all students is to offer flexible pace groups so that students can progress at their own speed. This system seems to be particularly well-suited to someone with a learning difference. We have received excellent support from Beacon - but we also have had to be self-motivated about getting our daughter help and following through with the recommendations we received both from Beacon and our daughter's doctor. And, yes, the whole process has cost us money but we've felt that dealing with this early is essential to keeping our daughter on track in school. Beacon's very supportive environment has been an essential component to our daughter's success. And she has shown strong improvement - reading at grade level and feeling confident about her ability to succeed in school. Best wishes to you. Happy Beacon Parent
After loads of review of past posts and current I am posting to ask if anyone has advice regarding middle schools that are private. We have found our private remediations went well but our child needs more. Do we do outside support ,special ed therapist/Lindamood bell/Making Math Real/Pace while mainstreaming or enroll in a private middle school. If anyone has recent experience with Raskob/Star/OA/? I would appreciate any guidance.Our Neuropsych is a big fan of Charles Armstrong but we are in the east bay and its a big commute. Advocate loves STAR. Our child has severe dyslexia and is bright. Doing great socially and loves his sports and music. What to do? any help appreciated
I'm a parent advocate for low income families. I have daughter who has dyslexia with ADHD. I think it is different for each child. We had to make the same decision for my daughter in middle school. Does your daughter have ADHD too? It is pretty common to have both. We are in the East bay too. My daughter was social and into sports. I went and observed at Charles Armstrong but, it didn't seem like socially a good fit and she would be doing a commute everyday ( very good school though). Our decision was to keep her in public school and pay a good Ed. Therapist. I had to flight with the school in order for my daughter to have a good reading program in a small group with appropriate accommodations.
We went through several Ed. Therapist until we found one that connected with my daughter. Lindmood Bell is good but, expensive and you can do that over the summer. I have heard that Making Math real is a good program too.
Landmark Summer Camp has a good summer program. I'm not sure which STAR school you are referring to. You can talk to your daughter to see how she feels too. I know it is a difficult decision. I think you should look at the whole child- academics, socially and extra activities. You can email me if you have more questions. oam
Our son attends Raskob . It is wonderful. The middle school students are mixed so that they take their classes with 6th, 7th or 8th graders that have similar ability levels. All classes have a teacher and aid, and none have more than 10 students. In addition to the traditional core (Reading, Writing, Math, History, Science) the kids have PE, Music and Art. (Since it is spring the middle schoolers are using the pool and currently learning water polo in PE.) The school makes great efforts to create a nurturing environment. Teasing and bullying are addressed immediately and effectively. Social skills are developed as is the students self awareness of their personal learning differences and how they learn best. This is a culminating project over the years and by the end of 8th grade the students are able to advocate for the accommodations they need to succeed. It is very powerful.
As a public middle school teacher I can assure you that what my son is experiencing at Raskob is far and away a superior education when compared with what my district would have offered. (Mainstreaming into classes of 40 for core subjects, a PE class on an asphalt black top with 50 kids, and no elective because that would be when he got a ''study skills'' class supervised by a special ed teacher.) I feel greatful everyday that between financial aid and scrimping and saving we are able to make it possibel for him to attend Raskob. I definitely recommend the school to any family who has a child with a verbal learning disability. Definitely give them a call to see if you can get him in for fall. They are very careful to only admit students who they know they can help, so you dont' need to worry that they will string you along just to get you in the door. glad to be Raskobian
Recently our son was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. We live in the east bay and are looking into schools which know how to teach bright kids that have Dyslexia. Raskob has some reviews, but I was hoping for something recent. He is in third grade. And if you went to a school which teachers kids with this LD, what kind of changes did you see? What was the environment like? Teachers? Recreation? Any and all information would be appreciated while we are trying to sort out what to do. Thank you, Anon
You might want to check out Hope Academy in Concord for your son as well: 5353 Concord Blvd. Concord, CA 94521 email: hopeadmin [at] hopeacademyconcord.org phone: 925-687-7555 Debbie Booker, the primary teacher, is trained in the Slingerland methodology and is a wonderful teacher. anon
We are in our third year at Raskob and love it there. My son has dysgraphia and some oral processing issues, among other things, and we have found the tailored approach to each child really works for him. The school works well for kids with all kinds of learning disabilities and is also improving in it's communication/relationship to parents [a problem in the past that comes up less and less], in large part due to an active parent community and great new director. I can highly recommend it. Satisfied Raskob Parent
My friend's child is severely dyslexic and they are looking at the Charles Armstrong school in Belmont, which targets dyslexic kids. So you might want to check into that one too.
My daughter is dyslexic and barely holding her own in a traditional private middle school. I'd like to hear from other parents about their experience in a high school or middle school that is particularly caring of kids who have learning difficulties. I only know of Raskob, which is specifically for learning disabled kids, and would be interested in hearing responses from parents about this school and others that mix kids with and without learning disabilities. D
To the person who asked about schools other than Raskob , for his/her child with dyslexia. There are a number of schools besides Raskob for kids who fall outside the regular crop, and have a variety of educational issues not usually addressed or even ''allowed'' at most private schools. I will bypass public placements, because, frankly, I know of no public school placement which would be appropriate, and no district that is friendly (I don't say there is none, just that I don't know of any). First, does your daughter have an IEP? (Individual Educational Plan). Is she registered as a special needs kid, and does she have a diagnosis by a professional? If not, go do that. The professionals who focus on learning disabilities can be extremely helpful in placement suggestions, not just with diagnoses and prescriptions (such as pharmacologic treatment for ADHD, OCD, depression, etc.) If you don't know of someone, ask her pediatrician for a specialist or contact me for some names.
Arrowsmith Academy is a high school near the UC Berkeley campus.... (click "Arrowsmith" to see the full review)
If you are thinking of Junior High School, how far are you willing to travel? Star Academy in San Anselmo is reputed to be excellent for kids like your daughter. They have a new program (as of a year ago) which goes through high school, though they have been, traditionally, a junior high school.
Those are the two with which I am familiar, but I do think there are others, and there are ways to include an individualized plan with professional support into a regular curriculum as well, which would broaden your search.
But the first step would be to contact a professional who deals regularly with teens with learning disabilities. There is a host of them. You may also feel free to write to me.
Good luck, Tobie
My child has mild dyslexia. I was wondering if there is a support group in the East Bay for parents with children who have dyslexia. (The support group I attended focuses on more severe special needs).
I had my kid in a Berkeley public school, but they were reluctant to notice there was a problem, saying it was developmental. Finally, we made the move to a private school, and privately paid for assessment.
The private school has been very helpful, and accommodating, but my child is unhappy at school, finding the work difficult (reading and spelling below grade level), and, compared with others, feeling slow and dumb, therefore not liking to go to school... on the other hand, learning a lot, and the teacher is highly communicative and figures out special ways to accommodate problems-- plus is highly attentive. As you can understand, I am torn about making the move to another school. (We tried, for a while, a school that let kids approach subjects at their own rate with not much teacher help, an enjoyable experience but not enough drill to help master subjects).
I would like to hear from parents who have dyslexic kids in either a Berkeley Public School or private school, particularly in upper elementary and middle schools. Does BPS accommodate kids with mild Learning Disabilities, making sure they are keeping up and learning? What are a few good private junior high schools to consider? Finally, do you know of any psychologists who work with dyslexic kids? (And, oh yes, information on special gadgets, like typing machines that correct phonic spelling, etc.)
Our son, now age 9.5 yrs, was in first grade in a private school when we realized there was a learning disability. The school did some testing and the results ranged from the first to the 99th percentiles. The school was unable to provide adequate remedial help in the classroom, or guidance outside of it, though they were not uninterested or unconcerned. They recommended his retention for a second year in first grade, and we complied. Even when retained, he continued to fall further behind his class by mid year. In response to this we hired a retired teacher as a private tutor, but we also went to the BUSD to get further testing and support from the district.
This service is federally mandated and funded, even for kids in the private ed system. Testing began about 6 months after our initial application for help, and an IEP (Individual Education Plan) was in place a few months after that. However, it took a full year to complete paperwork and testing by the BUSD, and a good bit of follow-up advocacy was also required, to establish (1) our son had a mild learning disability; (2) that he qualified for remedial help in reading; and (3) he also qualified for help in occupational therapy, with fine and gross motor issues.
The crucial aspect in getting the IEP from the district was that testing established a significant quantifiable gap between academic achievement and intelligence quotient (IQ). We, as parents, had to gain the allegiance of a BUSD RSP (Reading Specialist Program) teacher to influence the BUSD psychologist administering the IQ tests to acknowledge this disparity. We also advocated with an administrator in the central BUSD offices.
During the time this lengthly procedure transpired, the BUSD dropped its program to offer remedial services to private school kids, saying that the federal govt mandated but did not fund such services. (However, testing services are still provided, as they are federally funded.) Law suits were filed shortly thereafter. We do not know the outcome of these legal struggles, and took other measures to cope with the issue.
The following year we moved to El Cerrito (for other reasons) and transferred our son to the local public school, in order to be sure of receiving remedial services we could afford (4 hrs RSP/wk + 1 hr. OT/wk). In addition, we hired a private learning specialist for 1-1/2 hrs per week (rates at $60 to $65/hr). We continue with the private specialist through the summer. Once our current school district was satisfied that the IEP was legitimate, they were, and continue to be, entirely supportive.
Results have been quite gratifying and successful. There will always be learning issues. They do not go away. The goal post moves as the child develops, but he is now reading and beginning to write at grade level for his age, and above grade level for his academic grade placement (you remember he was retained). The school district has been supportive throughout, and is not trying to cut services, even though he has moved into the normal performance range. In addition, he gets additional time when taking state tests.
It's a long haul, but it is one of my great satisfactions that we have stuck to our goal of getting services for our son, and the success of our persistant efforts has made a very special bond between us and our child.
My middle school daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade. She simply could not read. Her third and forth grade teachers and the school principal were very supportive in negotiating through the student study team process and the districts evaluators were very kind. However, in the end the School District had zero to offer in the way of specialized help. My daughter was simply not "broken enough". What did help was an intensive private program called Lindamood Bell located in downtown Berkeley. Expensive, but worth it. My daughter is now doing very well at King. One of her core teachers called me the first week of school for a long conversation about my daughter and her particular challenges. In fact, since my daughter was diagnosed, every one of her classroom teachers has been a real partner in working with us and keeping us informed about my daughter's progress. So my advice would be to get private help if you can't get what you need from the school district, but be sure to share your child's learning disability with her classroom teachers so that they can give you feedback and support what you are doing privately. My daughter had a great attitude tackling her learning disability. I think this was because she knew that all the important adults in her life really cared and that they had confidence in her. Nancy
to the parent looking for info. on dyslexia. I can recommend Raskob Day School on the campus of Holy Names College in Oakland. they have done wonders for my son. joann
To the person wanting advice on dyslexia: As a parent who has a child with a learning disorder and as a person who also has a professional interest in long-term outcomes associated with such disorders I applaud the great care you are taking in trying to get everything you can for your child. From my experience very few teachers (private or public school) go out of their way to try to present information to a child in a non-standard way. The self esteem problems and dislike of school will only grow as more and more such teachers are encountered. The majority of my son's teachers interpreted his ADHD as "willful" and punished him continually for his disorganization -- they refused to accept any responsibility for presenting the material or giving him assignments in ways that favored his learning/organization style.
The fact that you have a teacher who is willing to go out of his/her way is 90% of the battle so I wouldn't suggest that you change schools. However I would strongly suggest that you try investigating some non-invasive but physiologically-based approaches to dyslexia. A lot of learning disorders including dyslexia are rooted in the fact that different parts of the brain aren't talking to each other right. There is a book called "infinity walk" which has lots of bi-lateral exercises -- that is the real cheap approach. Alternatively, various forms of biofeedback including neurofeedback have been very helpful for dyslexia -- kids have shown gains of several grades in just a few months once the circuits are working better. There are two recent books on neurofeedback -- one by James Evans Intro to quantitative eeg and neurofeedback and one called 'a symphony in the brain' but I don't remember the author.
The younger your child is the easier it is to get him/her to comply with exercises and feedback approaches -- don't wait until they are an adolescent because it really gets tough to get compliance and then and you start to reap the harvest of many years of a kid feeling bad about her/himself. They see themselves a losers, get rejected by the "cool" kids, start to hang out with other losers, get into alcohol and drugs, cut school, get into more trouble, etc. etc. etc.
This is a reply to the mother of the child with dyslexia. BPS can only do so much with a child with different learning styles, needs, and pace. We tried to make it work, but left after 2nd grade. The resource teacher was great, but the time given to my daughter was too little, and the classroom time was too stressful and chaotic for her so it was really a very negative waste of her time. We now are at Raskob Day School on Holy Names Campus. I strongly suggest you call them and go visit. You will see regular kids who each have a learning disorder of some sort. The school goes through middle school. Currently it is quite a small group ot 6-8th graders, but they are hoping very much to double the size of the middle school so as to give these kids more of a typical social milieu. There has been much discussion already on this newsletter about learning disabilities, which should be accessible through the archives. But please check it out- other schools which some people say accomodate different learning styles have been known to request that a child leave mid-way through the school year (esp. if they are trying very hard to boost their reputation as a college-prep school) and can you even imagine anything more disastrous? Anyway, we are thrilled with my child's progress, and the difference in self-esteem Raskob has given her. Kids are savvy- I firmly believe that self-esteem only comes with true success, and the kids at Raskob are succeeding. Please post anonymously.
I would call the Family Resource Network on Claremont Avenue in Oakland or Children's Hospital, Oakland (psycho-education department) about support groups. Sorry but I do not know of any support group for mild Learning Disabilities.
The Berkeley Public Schools does accommodate students with mild Learning Disabilities. If your child wasn't eligible for special education, he/she may be eligible for a 504 Plan (generally a regular education procedure but since your child is in private school, not sure how that is handled). You should contact Sally Sweatfield at the BUSD Special Education Office regarding your concerns. Share with her the private assessment and ask about a 504 Plan. I am not sure how private schools accommodate students with 504 Plans.
On yes, about special gadgets, like typing machines ...I would talk to someone from the Center for Accessible Technology (841-3224). They are great. Wednesday afternoons are open resource days. Membership isn't expensive either. They provide wonderful suggestons. Doreen
I don't know anything about the BPS programs, but I have had great success with a sensory-motor skills program for my eight year old's dyslexia. It seems to have dramatic results, despite being apparently irrelevant to the problem. It involves (for him) lots of spinning around, hanging from monkey bars, crawling in special patterns, tracing big letters etc. In four months his reading skills have gone up by eighteen months and his writing is now fairly readable and much faster. There are lots of different such programs around. I took my son to one that was outside the school, because he was already feeling discouraged among his very bright and quick friends, and I didn't want to draw attention to it any further. The whole thing has been our "secret weapon". I didn't even tell his teacher, feeling that any response she makes to his improvement would then be impartial evidence.
His end of year report is streets ahead of his mid-year one, with many comments from his teacher about his improved "attitude".
His school did offer a program, but it seemed less focused, and they were already full up with kids with much more severe problems ( he was reading at a "reasonable" level for a boy, according to his teachers). I was much more concerned that he should feel good about himself, and not believe he was naturally stupid. He was really upset after the first session, claiming I thought his brain was no good, but after the big improvements we've been seeing, he seems to be okay about it. I was pretty worried that if it hadn't worked, he never would have forgiven me, though.
The exercises are daily, quite fun, and have had a good by-product in that his father does them along with him. He has also decided to take up boxing, since he now has so much upper body strength and balance....
My nephews, who have a different and more severe dyslexia, have used a different program in England called "Tow to Toe" (or "Torture to Torture" according to my sister-in-law) which has also been effective, but it has been a lot of work over a full year, on top of two years of less effective help before that. It involves a lot of repetition, as far as I can understand, but I really don't know much about it.
Every kid is different when it comes to reading and writing problems - you may have to search around a bit to find the program that's right for you. I certainly found the sensory-motor approach relatively painless. If it's working you should be seeing effects within a few months, that's the bottom line. Fiona
My son is medium-dyslexic, 6th grade Albany MS and about 4th grade reading level. He just began working with Leba Morimoto, LCSW in Berkeley 1-2x per week. So far I am impressed that she understands his learning style. Her own style is firm, focused, yet kind and understanding. I think it will be productive but time will tell. Leba's number is 510-528-8224. Tom
We had our kid diagnosed at Raskob Learning Institute , which gave us an incredibly detailed report. Also we are using CASE, Community Alliance for Special Education, to help us in our IEP meetings, they provide advocates and attornies if needed. Also, our child uses "Talking Book" a free service from the Calif.State Library, 916-654-0640, which you have to apply for. They provide books on tape and a special tape player at no cost. Also the State offers instructional materials on tape for dyslexic kids, also at no cost, if you have them ordered through your public school. We also started with a diagnosis from UCBerkeley School of Optometry, Binocular Vision Clinic, when we first suspected something was going on. -
Re: Parent of Teen Recently Diagnosed with Dyslexia
I have had the same experience with my son, who will be 15 next month. We got the first clear diagnosis when he was 13. In many ways it was a relief to him. It explained why he had to work so hard to get the good grades he gets. We have had various additional testing done since then to hone in on exactly what the problem is. Guiding us through this was Ann Gordon in Oakland 510/873-0801. She may not be taking clients now, but if she has a waiting list, she's worth the wait. Our son went to a Slingerland (a technique to work with dyslexia) summer school last summer, which helped a lot. Call Nancy Cushen White: 415/661-0956 for information. He will begin shortly a very intense tutoring program through Lindamood Bell (510/649-7618). The trouble with this program is that it's VERY expensive (for us, $5000 - $10,000)--thus, unaffordable to most people. Charles Schwab himself is dyslexic, and there is a resource website through Charles Schwab about dyslexia (but I don't know the address). I also understand from Ann Gordon and others that the Ann Martin Children's Center provides testing and other services. I know that having this come up so late in your daughter's life is shocking. It's a testament to her intelligence that nobody figured this out before. My son has found things much easier, now that he understands the issues. He is now able to advocate for himself with his teachers, and seems completely able to discuss with peers what his issues are. Good luck.