Support & Resources for Dyslexia

Parent Q&A

ISO Dyslexia Advice & Educational Therapist Feb 25, 2021 (1 responses below)
3rd grader with dyslexia Sep 9, 2020 (7 responses below)
Dyslexia / LD Support Group? Sep 19, 2018 (10 responses below)
Educational Advocate/Consultant for dyslexia/ADHD? Oct 4, 2017 (1 responses below)
  • We’ve recently learned that our 3rd grade daughter has dyslexia (and related eye tracking/convergence and gross/fine motor issues), and are looking for an educational therapist as well as any other resources or suggestions. 


    I would love any experiences/recommendations on:

    —choosing between Barton, Lindamood Bell, and Orton Gillingham methods for ET

    —a specific educational therapist you recommend for dyslexia 

    —a local FB group or other support/resource group for parents of kids with dyslexia

    —any other resources or anything else you think would be useful for us to know or look into as we research and work through all of this 


    We’re reading the books The Dyslexic Advantage and Overcoming Dyslexia, and we’re going through the long and arduous process of district assessment. She’s seeing an OT and the binocular vision center at Berkeley. 


    Thank you!

    It was a long time ago, but my son went to three months of intensive tutoring at the Lindamood Bell center at 1625 Shattuck in Berkeley, and he had a wonderful experience there.  He was seven or eight years old at the time.  He went for two hours a day, five days a week.  His elementary school let me pick him up after lunch every day and miss afternoon classes, so he wouldn't get completely exhausted -- two hours of one-on-one tutoring is grueling, but it was effective.  Before he went, he couldn't read even the most simple easy readers, and after three months, he was more or less reading Harry Potter on his own.  

    After Lindamood Bell, we hired a specialist to come into the school and work with him in his classroom a couple of times a week.  We kept her on through middle school (when she moved away, alas), and at that point I took over.  I had to reassess so many assumptions I had!  Through high school I often read instructions for assignments out loud to him.  For written assignments he would dictate his thoughts and I would write down what he said, and then we would go through and organize/edit/rewrite/proofread together.  It was a long haul, but by the time he started college he didn't even want me proofreading anymore.  

    At his college he still gets extra time on tests, and he listens to most of the readings for his classes, using either audio books or the Optical Character Recognition program built in to his laptop, and with these two accommodations he is able to manage the work.  I would recommend starting to get your child used to listening to texts pretty soon, so that by the time they are in high school they're comfortable with it.  You can download audio books from the public library, and most computers now have OCR programs built in.  You can choose different voices and adjust the speed of narration.  

    A laptop is so useful for a dyslexic student -- their own laptop if you can swing it. Spell-check of course is indispensable, and the OCR programs.  The Center for Accessible Technology in Berkeley has keyboarding classes especially geared towards kids with learning disabilities.  Also you can download a program for a typeface called Dyslexie that makes reading text on a computer/i-pad/phone easier -- my son never took to it, but my dyslexic sister swears by it. 

    The two books you mention are the ones I would have recommended to you.  

    There used to be something called the Parents Education Network that ran very helpful sessions for parents.  It has now been folded into Children's Health Services (www.chconline.org), a nonprofit based in Palo Alto, but I think they still do those parent sessions (maybe over zoom for now).   Their website has tons of resources and they run support groups.

    Happy to chat about any of this!

  • 3rd grader with dyslexia

    (7 replies)

    Hi!

    I am looking for current recommendations for a child with dyslexia.  He also carries diagnoses of dyscalculia, ADHD, and ASD.  He is an independent child, but has a terrible difficulty with academics.  Currently he is struggling in general education 3rd grade with an IEP.  We live in Dublin, and ideally something close by would be great, but willing to travel if needed.  We love our resource teacher, but we don't know that if that is enough.  

    School recommendations? Programs, Tutors, Doctors?   We will take all recommendations!

    RE: 3rd grader with dyslexia ()

    Hi - We used a marvelous tutor, who is an educational therapist in El Cerrito.Her educational background is in dyslexia but she also specializes in math for kids K-12. She is amazing.

    You might give her a call - Leba Morimoto - 510-292-8822.  Wish you all the best!

    RE: 3rd grader with dyslexia ()

    TALK (Teaching and Assessing Language for Kids) has an office in Danville and can provide services. http://talkbayarea.com/

    RE: 3rd grader with dyslexia ()

    I had dyscalculia that wasn't diagnosed until I was 16!  My diagnostics were done at a Sylvan Learning Center and I continued tutoring with them until high school graduation and it helped tremendously.  They teach toward many different learning styles.  Don't know if they've changed since then (25 years ago!) but it was super helpful for me.  Your doing a great job getting help for child at a younger age than I was!  It greatly impacted my self-esteem, thinking I was stupid, etc.  I just needed to be taught in a different way, and it made all the difference in the world.

  • 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.  

  • 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.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


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 (cforat.org). 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] aol.com. 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. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/18/a-better-way-to-teach-math/ I'd be happy to talk with you about homeschooling if you are interested. Susan


Check out http://www.dys-add.com/. 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 http://odysseyofthemind.com/. 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. http://www.bartonreading.com/ 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 www.aetonline.org and also the East Bay learning disability group www.eastbaylda.org 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 www.ldonline.org

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'' (pathtoreading.com). 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: halcyonlearning.com. 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 www.handle.org or www.learningandgrowth.com 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