Which School for Dyslexic Child?

Parent Q&A

  • Looking for Private School that is supportive of dyslexia

    (4 replies)

    Hello Parents,

    We have a child at a private Oakland K-8 school. Our child has dyslexia and our school doesn't think that they can support him much past 3rd grade- it's not their "niche" as it was put to us. We are wondering if there are folks out there with dyslexic children that are supported enough to thrive at a private school? We looked into Raskob, but it didn't seem to be a good fit. Our child seems to be a mainstream kid who just needs extra support. We want to find a place that takes their pledge to diversity a step further and not only be inclusive of neuro diversity and learning differences, but also celebrate them. Is there a private school in Oakland that is paving the way for children with learning differences? 

    Thank you!

    My son was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADHD ( inattentive) in first grade. He was attending a “ progressive “ private school in Oakland and they were unwilling and unequipped to provide support for my son - as are most schools. The problem is that most learning specialists are not trained in the proven methodologies that support and instruct kids with Dyslexia. In fact, the trend these days is for learning specialists to support teachers - not necessarily students. You might get a “ pull-out” a few times a week but that wont help your child.  Early intervention is crucial. Many studies have shown that early intervention can even “rewire” neuro pathways. Check out UCSF’s brain imaging study on Dyslexia.

    We sent our son to Charles Armstrong for three years and it was well worth the sacrifice. He is now a 6th grader at The Berkeley School and thriving. TBS is a wonderful community and a school that really and truly embraces diversity in all forms. The school is working on more ways to support neuro-diverse students because the leadership understands that a diverse classroom helps develop deeper learning.  TBS also has a project based curriculum, which really works well for Dyslexic students. Our son still needs some outside support but the school makes it easy and welcomes all types of scaffolding that students depend on.

    If you are not going to send your child to a school that focuses on remediation of Dyslexia, then I encourage you to hire an educational therapist who is trained in Making Math Real, Orton-Gillingham, and or Slingerland. The Berkeley School provides an environment where your child’s strengths will be highlighted and their challenges will be supported. Unlike many private schools - they welcome students who learn and think in different ways. I encourage you to contact Stephen Cahill ( learning support coordinator) at the Berkeley School. He welcomes the opportunity to discuss the school’s strategies for different learners - I’ve never encountered a more engaged and forward thinking educator !

    I highly recommend the Berkeley School. My daughter is dyslexic and she flourished and loved her middle school years at the Berkeley School. She is in high school now. She was prepared well and ready academically and socially for high school. The teachers at the Berkeley School were great and accommodated my daughter's needs. It was the perfect fit for her. All the best and good luck! -frank r

    Though we can't recommend a school in Oakland, we also have a dyslexic child in private school, and can speak to the fact that this will be the case most places you go, unless you switch to public school, and then the resources will vary district to district. Our child was diagnosed after 2nd grade, and we started having them work with an educational therapist right away. Now our child, with few accommodations, is at the top of their class, still in private school and thriving. It's a very expensive way to go, but if you are able to manage it (we never vacation and forgo other luxuries) and are committed to private school, it may be your best option. Good luck!

    Hi there.  My kid is a mainstream kid who needs extra support and he's at Raskob, so not sure what metric you are using.  We were at a couple of private schools, some were better than others supporting kids with learning challenges. The good ones do well in the lower grades but what can happen is that either the supports aren't as good in the higher grades, and/or the demands get higher and what was working before for mild LD no longer does and the kids flame out.  We have a lot of kids come in at 6th and 7th grade at Raskob because their LD looks worse as they get older. Anyhow, to answer your question, if you want to keep your kid in a private elementary school you can try Berkwood Hedge or Aurora.  They're pretty good for younger kids with LD.  If your kid needs more support later on you should look at Raskob again.  Lindamood-Bell has a school, Stellar in  Hayward is good for dyslexia, Hope Academy in Concord, and if you don't mind a commute there's Charles Armstrong on the peninsula. Hopefully, though, your kid can get by with minimal support.

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  • Moving to Public school from Private School to get more support for dyslexia

    (1 reply)

    Hello there,

    We are considering transferring from our private Oakland elementary school to go to our local elementary school (Montclair Elementary) to get more support for our 8-year old son with dyslexia. Is there anyone out there that has done this? What worked and what didn't? It's a tough position to be in and we are just beginning to familiarize ourselves with our options. Thank you!

    Public school districts are required to provide resource support to students in private schools.  Have you pursued this?  You might want to consider how much resource time your child would receive in the public school compared with what the district would provide to your private school.  Have you already had your child tested and an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) set up through the Oakland District?

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  • Any good services in public middle schools for dyslexic children?

    (2 replies)

    Hi everyone,

    I would like to know if any public middle schools in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley  and charter schools in Oakland are providing the right services and accommodation for dyslexic children, such as subscriptions to learning ally or multisensory structure language teaching (Orton-Gillingham Approach, Wilson approach, Lindamood Bell, etc).  Would you please share your experiences with your school?

    Thanks

    At King Middle School, and, from what I have heard at the other Berkeley Unified Middle Schools, there is NO structured  multisensory approach, which is a crying shame. More then that, there has been much active discouragement of getting help for dyslexic students. 

     I do know that from experience you have to constantly fight for what you want in the schools otherwise they will not support you. If they say no to something keep going back until they say yes. 

    Many  Schools do not have the funding or the staffing to provide the services but just keep fighting for what you want. 

     Also try looking on Facebook for support groups as there are many here in California. 

     Good luck 

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  • Athenian school for dyslexic child

    (1 reply)

    We're starting to look at high schools for our rising 7th grader. She is a 'high functioning' dyslexic with straight A's in her current private school with minimal accommodations. We're wondering if she would even have a chance getting in to Athenian with a LD. Any parents of LD kids @ Athenian out there? Advice?

    Hi there,

    I don't have experience with Athenian, however my son has been going to Orinda Academy since middle school and is now a rising Junior. OA would be an amazing place for your daughter. They support many high functioning needs with their small classes sizes, learning support coordinator/plan and lots of ways to support your student. My son has ADD and Sensory processing and has blossomed here. Another great thing is the classes can accommodate up or down depending on your student's abilities. It's a wonderful high school experience with lots of opportunities. 

    You can message me if you have any more questions or call Janet at OA for more information and the open house schedule. 925-478-4504

    Laura

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  • East Bay School for 8YO with Dyslexia and ADHD

    (4 replies)

    My 8YO son has dyslexia and ADHD. He struggles in the typical public classroom with 25+ students both academically and socially. He just finished the Lindamood-Bell program and is doing great with his reading, but we have seen that he needs the smaller class size so he doesn't get distracted as easily. He often complains that he is getting bullied at school and called names. I am looking for a private school that would have a smaller class size and a more nurturing environment. Any recommendations?

    Hi 

    I'm sorry for your troubles.  We have a 9 year with dyslexia.  It is encouraging to find that Lindamood bell helped.  Some info.  If you want to go full on dyslexic school, there are many from the east bay that carpool to Charles Amrstrong in Belmont.  It is 200 kids all dyslexic.  And ADHD often goes along with it.  No bullying. And my son is convinced he is super smart.  Some parents go for a cloupke of years. In public school, it was hard to fight for resources once my son reached "grade level".   Private schools you might choose nice and small.  You will likely have to supplement.  

    Two programs.  Foundations is used at Berkeley School.  1 st to 3 Rd. And that is the program Amrstrong uses. Math made real is used at several schools and is based in Berkeley.  We found there was not one solution but decided private plus supplement worked for our son.  

    Some ideas for your son.  Other famous dyslexics? In London in told the reserve a track for dyslexics at the top schools because so many are Brillant at math and science.   Finding places where he can succeed in other areas.  

    Also Debbie Vielbaum former head of admission ls at Charles Armatrong has a consulting practice under Vielbaum consulting.   She has worked with famikies transitioning out of Amrstrong into public and private. 

    Several schools come to mind, but many are in the South Bay.  The ones that come to mind in the East Bay are Raskob, which is in Oakland and is a school geared for kids with ADHD and dyslexia and has low ratios in the classrooms and integrated therapies.  We toured their in the past and I was impressed, but we didn't end up there.  Your post doesn't mention whether math is an issue- some kids with dyslexia also have math learning affected.  The other school that comes to mind is Da Vinci school for Gifted Children in Alameda- they are a very low ratio school (5:1) and I've heard several kids with ADHD have done well there.  Don't let the "gifted" wording throw you off- there is no testing involved, and its really a description to indicate social emotional learning needs as well as asynchronous development where they can be "gifted" in one thing and way behind in something else.  Also, check out EdRev website for a listing of other schools that teach to different learning modes- you may be surprised at the options that are now all over the Bay Area.  Good luck!

    Check out Raskob, they may have the programming your son needs. Best of luck!!! I am so so sorry that your son is being bullied. 

    I am very sorry to hear about the bullying, which the school should be completely on top of preventing. However, moving to a private school is a double-edged sword, because private schools don't have the same obligations to provide an equal education to students with special needs. (See recent posts on this.) Some do, of course, but it's more voluntary. There are private middle and high schools focused on special needs students but I am not aware of a local private elementary school that does. My 3rd grade son has an IEP for a variety of conditions (including ADHD, in process of diagnosis) at his public school in the WCCUSD and I am certain he would do better in a smaller classroom - as would all the kids in his class! - BUT, the tradeoff is he wouldn't be getting his current level of service in school for free. And this year anyway there were only 19 kids in his classroom, you can't really do better than that. I have been reading about some auditory therapy used at Suma Kids in Concord to help minimize environmental distractions, and we may pursue that outside of school.

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  • Best public schools for MS & HS students with dyslexia

    (2 replies)

    Hi, I am moving to SF next month. I will temporarily be living in SF for a few months before we buy a home somewhere in the Bay Area (most likely East Bay along the BART line or down to SSF. I am looking for recommended schools to try to get into that successfully address middle school students with dyslexia. 

    I would not consider public schools based our experience. We were actually told that unless a child is two grade levels behind, public schools will not provide adequate assistance.  

    Our experience in the Piedmont School district was terrible for learning disabilities (dysgraphia). We had an IEP and our child scored 12 grade level in all standardized tests from the first year in middle school. These tests are used by the public schools to show how great the schools are. Yet the school ignored the tests when we tried to keep our child in regular classes but ask for assistive technologies or other assistance. We had outside testing that stated that our child was gifted. Yet no matter how much we fought, paid outside advocates, our child was placed in remedial classes. Our child was not on tract for getting into college. Millennium High School was not a better option.

    We eventually went to a private school and our child is not only thriving but in advanced classes.

    I would consider private schools with proven track records of assistance for learning disabilities. After being in two highly rated and wealthy public school districts, that public schools just do not treat intelligent students with learning disabilities as capable of achieving along with their peers.

    It really depends on what your child needs. Piedmont is known for having high quality public schools with good support for students with learning disabilities. It has an alternative public high school called Millenium which is reputed to serve students with special needs well. No public schools in the area that I know of do an adequate job at remediation. It can be a lot of work to fight at schools for accommodations. You might want to post again with more information about your child and the specific needs. Berkeley Unified is facing a class-action lawsuit for inadequately serving kids with dyslexia. 

    http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/05/03/lawsuit-says-berkeley-unified-fai...

    If your son needs a lot of support you could consider Raskob, a private K-8 school for students with learning disabilities. From there your son could go to Bayhill High School in Berkeley for high school.

    Good luck!

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  • Dyslexia help for middle schooler

    (2 replies)

    Hi, I'm looking for some advice regarding our daughter that is Dyslexic and currently in a public school in 7th grade. She's had an IEP since 3rd grade and has accommodations, but it's always been a challenge to get her the help that she needs in school, because she is well behaved so she falls under their radar even with her IEP.  She struggling in her public school and we've been trying to get her additional reading support and assistive technology, but they don't seem to have programs in place for students like her.  We've been looking into other options (i.e., private schools that offer programs for Dyslexia, tutors that can work with her with the Slingerland/Orton-Gillingham Approach, or another public school system that may have more resources and supports in place). Love to hear your recommendations for all of the above options or other options we may not have considered yet.  

    Thank you in advance for sharing.  

    -Concerned mom

    Yes, most Public Schools are plain awful in not providing help for this. My Dyslexic son made HUGE strides with his Slingerland tutor, and (he has Auditory Processing Issues) with FastForward by Gemm Learning, online, 50 minutes a day, and, yes, I had to sit right next to him to make him do it. These two things made a WORLD of difference. I also filed a Complaint with the Calif Department of Education, who then made our District (Berkeley Unified) reimburse me for the Slingerland tutoring as well as in service their (very incompetent) special ed people.

    Middle school years are the hardest. We ended up paying for our own neuropsychological evaluation so that we knew where to intervene. The psychologist recommended an educational therapist, whom we adore, Toby Michelson. It's been worth every cent. In hindsight, the earlier you intervene the better and be mindful of any social challenges. With puberty-related changes, there's so much these kids are trying to figure out. It's one thing to address remedial learning, it's probably more time important to help our kids accept themselves (learning differences included) wholeheartedly. 

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  • Do you know anything about Charles Armstrong Academy in Belmont, CA?

    (3 replies)

    I am a parent of a 5th grader who is dyslexic and has ADHD however very smart.  He has worked very hard and is a top reader now however because of his dyslexia he struggles with other subjects.  He is very social and has a lot of friends.  The public schools are not helping him.  He is BORED and not learning.  Does anyone know anything about Charles Armstrong Academy in Belmont?  Can you tell me good, bad and anything about the school?  Or can you recommend a different school?

    Thanks,

    Concerned Mom

    My son has Dyslexia too and the public schools refused to help, blaming me, etc. Best thing I ever did, on the recommendation of a friend, was file a Complaint with the California Department of Education, with some help from DREDF. It has to be filed on a procedural issue (like not responding on time, not complying with an IEP, etc). Made a 180 turn for my son, all of a sudden he was getting what he needed, and they told the district to reimburse me for the specialized Slingerland tutoring I had started. for him, which helped hugely.

    I have a highly gifted, dyslexic child with ADHD as well.  We got a list of schools that were geared specifically for dyslexia that included Raskob in Oakland, Charles Armstrong (Belmont), Hope Academy (Concord), Stellar Academy for Dyslexics (Fremont), Athena Academy (Palo Alto) and several in San Francisco.  There were so many options, but most of them (except Raskob) seemed like they would be hard to get to in a morning commute and juggling work.  Raskob looked good, while at the same time, I didn't see the "gifted" and "creative" component highlighted as much as I would have liked in the lower elementary groups and felt like school would mainly be geared towards remediation, and not teaching to strengths as well.  Athena Academy would have been one we would have selected, if the drive there were at all doable- that one looked like an amazing overall fit.

    Instead, I chose a small private school with a low ratio and project based learning that was geared towards gifted children and decided to "remediate" the dyslexia outside of the actual school.  Got a really great O-G tutor (started with Barton then moved to an overall O-G program) for the dyslexia and dysgraphia.  Schools for gifted children already have a built in "meet child where they are" component and tend to teach using multi modal methods as gifted children also learn differently (visual, kinesthetic, audio), and most have a strong social-emotional component to them and plenty of movement and outdoor time, as well as a low ratio (which helps the ADHD/focus).  My child blossomed and was no longer complaining of being bored in school and the anxiety dropped.  They are now also reading at grade level.  

    I think there are allot of options in the bay area and you can explore what will fit you and your child best.  Good luck! 

    Hi, I'm not sure where you're located, but I live in Belmont and if you'd like I can post your question on our local NextDoor forum and see if I can get any feedback from around here.  I did a search and didn't turn up anything from the past.  

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions  

 

Dyslexia and private versus public school

Nov 2013

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


 

Middle school for dyslexic child

April 2011

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


 

School for severely dyslexic 3rd grader

February 2009

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.


 

School for dyslexic middle schooler

February 2003

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


Recommendations received:



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


 

Public school for dyslexic child?

December 2000

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.

Mimi



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.

Anonymous



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.