Tag Archives: dyslexia

Best day ever

Oh happy day.

Seriously. Neither of my children has homework today. It might just possibly be the best day ever.

This morning I had a meeting with Dash’s teachers, because they wanted to talk to me about some observations they’ve made about his reading and his vision.

And after we’d talked about that, and agreed that I should make a new appointment with the eye doctor because the teachers are convinced that a lot of his reading hurdles are still vision-related, I mentioned that homework is always a battle, especially the reading portion of it.

They instantly said “Well, what can we do to fix that? Can he stay on here and do it after school? Can he do it during the day? You should have told us sooner.” I was flabbergasted. I had been meaning to mention it at our parent-teacher meetings next month, but I didn’t seriously think they’d be able to take the burden of the 20 minutes of reading, cornerstone of homework requirement, away. Just like that, they did.

They still want him to do a little homework, for the executive functioning reason of developing a habit of getting out your work, checking what you need to do, and doing something at home. But if he can do the 20 minutes of reading, so much the sticking point for us every night, at school instead, our quality of life will be enormously improved.

This evening was so peaceful. Mabel happens to have no homework this week either, though her homework is not a battleground, but it was just the icing on the cake.

I mean, she still didn’t get out of the bath the first ten times I politely suggested she should, and nobody’s asleep yet, but as evenings go, I’d like more of this sort.

Dash on his new bike

No homework? Time to get up some speed on your new bike.

 

New school blues (or not)

So, Dash, how’s the new school?

He’s probably sick of being asked, so I’ll synthesize his recent comments for you.

There are lockers, which is probably the most exciting thing.

And desks that have lids, so you keep your stuff inside them. Those are also the most exciting thing.

And on Friday afternoons the school gets together and has races and things, divided into houses just like in Hogwarts, and each house has a chant and a secret handshake and Dash was put in the house he really wanted to be in because it has the coolest symbol. Which is a dragon.

Nothing could be better than a dragon, obviously. The other houses are just sissies, with their eagle and unicorn and whatever the other thing is.

Also, instead of art they have “makers’ class” where they get to make things and use glue guns and saws and other dangerous implements. Dash is now planning to build an extension to his room so he can play his ukulele without annoying us.

Yes, they are learning the ukulele, which is great because Dash already has one. He has been strumming it non stop since Friday afternoon now, and he doesn’t know any chords yet. We are all slowly going insane.

Some of us faster than others, actually.

So those are pretty much the salient points of Dash’s new school. As for reading, well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. They’re still getting to grips with all that.

 

Next steps

We had the IEP meeting at the school on Thursday. (If you need catching up, here’s the background.)

The real reason I like being on the PTA board and taking an active part in the school is not so that the staff will say, on occassions like this, “Oh, Dash’s parents are pillars of the local community; we’d better do right by him.” It’s because when I end up in a meeting like this, I’m familiar with at least some of the faces around the table, so I’m less intimidated and more comfortable.

So we were there, Dash’s parents; and the school counselor and the school psychologist and the special ed teacher and two more special ed teachers and the principal and Dash’s classroom teacher. Everyone had read the report but only three of them knew Dash at all. I tried to describe how Dash reads, and at everything I said his classroom teacher was nodding and doing the finger-to-nose-point-at-the-person-who-gets-the-right-answer thing. So we were all on the same page as far as that went.

I suppose what I was hoping for was that they would say “Ah yes. In these cases, we do A and B and C and then they progress wonderfully,” but of course they didn’t. Dash’s case is not so typical – most kids with reading difficulties need extra help with decoding, but his decoding is fine; he needs work on fluency and automatization, which is not so clearcut because it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why he lacks these things.

But they will pull him out every day to work on that with a specialist, and continue to give him the accommodations he currently has under his 504 plan (based on his vision assessment last year) to do with sitting at the front of the class and getting a printout where necessary to minimize having to look from the board to a page and back. He’ll still get extra time when needed and will also have shortened assignments if that makes sense rather than the extra time, which can eat up so much of the rest of his school day. The counsellor will check in with him regularly to see how he’s feeling about it all.

He won’t get an IEP, because you have to be performing below grade level to get one, and he’s not. But the 504 will do what we need, for now, and it’s easier to administer too, so I think it’s okay that we have that and I don’t feel the need to fight for anything more at this time. He might qualify as TAG (Talented and Gifted), but that’s decided mostly at county level and won’t happen for a while yet. The school will submit his private evaluation at that time and they’ll take his scores into account along with everything else. If he’s TAG as well as LD, then it would make him 2E or “twice exceptional,” which sounds so very elitist that I don’t even like to say it, but I suppose it serves a purpose in identifying people with needs at both ends of the scale simultaneously.

It’s time for me to start doing some research, though. I did borrow The Dyslexic Advantage electronically from the library, but even though the library says it’s checked out to me, it hasn’t appeared on my Kindle and is apparently going to just float about in the ether above my head for the next three weeks, which is feck all use to me.

 

Dislecsia

Many times in the past couple of years I’ve thought, “Well, at least he’s not dyslexic.” Because when you think of dyslexia – or at least when I did – you think of kids who mix up d and b, who can’t tell tab from bat or din from nib. When we had Dash’s vision assessed back at the end of first grade, one of the tests was to read words just like that. When the eye doctor went over the results with me, she said “This is one they’d use to identify dyslexia, for instance.” He did fine on that one.

But “dyslexia” just means a learning disability focusing on reading. Some people with dyslexia do see the words moving around on the page, and are liable to read them backwards just as easily as forwards – but Dash’s dyslexia is not like that. I think if it was, we’d have come to this particular label sooner. (Label. Labels are good. They help people get the help they need. I’m all for labels.)

Dash’s test results (this time) indicated that he processes things slowly, including reading. His lack of fluency in reading might simply stem from this, or there might be something else at work, maybe. The “Reading Disability” and the “Learning Disorder, NOS” due to slow processing are two diagnoses, but one probably influences the other.

He’s really good at decoding words and applying the rules. But too much of English doesn’t follow the rules. (We wondered if he’d be “less” reading disabled if we spoke Spanish, or Russian, or anything with fewer irregulars.)

It’s not just speed, though. He doesn’t have any sight words, or hardly any. He’s not recognizing the shapes of words as a whole the way most of us do. He reads every word as if it’s new to him. He hasn’t “automatized” the reading process, which is the stage that just comes for most people with a little practice. We’ve been waiting and waiting for it to just come, and it just doesn’t.

Of course, some people are just slow readers. There’s more going on here: when there’s a clear disparity between their intelligence in some areas and their abilities in others, you begin to look for a specific cause. This is what’s happening here – just to brag/antibrag, let me quote a couple of his results:

On the Verbal Comprehension Index, Dash scored in the 99th percentile. On the Working Memory Index he was in the 91st. On the Processing Speed Index he was in the 2nd.

In both the Listening Comprehension and Oral Discourse Comprehension tests he was in the 99.6th percentile, but his Oral Reading Fluency was at the 0.3rd percentile.

And so on. Of course, some of his scores were right in the average domain too, but it was interesting to see the huge “scatter” (as it’s called) in his abilities. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but the report said this was a bigger span than most kids his age.

Some of the bits of the report I particularly noted were:

  • D presented as a well-groomed child. (Heh.)
  • He easily separated from his mother. (Take that, AP deniers!)
  • He was sometimes tangiental in his thinking. (Ahem.)
  • While D took his time to provide his answers, the responses that he formulated were articulate and complex for his age. (There you go.)
  • D often made unique connections or had ideas that were outside the box. But he often had difficulty producing the simplest, most logical response. (Yes.)
  • He read words such as “photograph” and “equipment” accurately, but he sounded out all the words including such basic ones as “cow” and “they”. (Yup.)

We have an IEP meeting set up for next week. In the meantime, if you’ve any resources to recommend, books I should read, whatever – have at it in the comments.

 

Spoilers

I mentioned a while ago that we were getting Dash tested for … I don’t know, stuff. Whatever was making it so hard for him to read. Long story short, today we got our answers: he’s officially dyslexic.

That is, I should say, he has a reading disability, and what’s called a Learning Disorder NOS due to deficits in processing speed. (That makes him sound like a computer. His CPU is a little whirry.)

NOS stands for Not Otherwise Specified, because processing speed disorder is not, as of right now, a recognized thing for the purposes of insurance or school services, but it falls under the general LD umbrella.

Dyslexia is a fairly broad term without any specifically internationally recognized definition, but it basically indicates any reading disability like this, and seems to be a nice easy way to explain what’s going on with Dash without having to get into technicalities.

My gut reaction when the doctor said “reading disability” was “Great!” because that’s honestly what we needed. He’s not ADHD (though he does have some of those characteristics sometimes), he’s not ED or ASD or SPD or any of those things that didn’t really seem to fit with him. He’s LD. He’s really good at some things and really slow at others, and sometimes he’s really good while being really slow at the same time.

So now we have what we need to get help at school. More help than just giving him extra time, which is what we had up to now (with a 504 plan, the baby brother of an IEP), but actual one-on-one time with a reading specialist. The school mostly thought he was fine, because his grades are good and he’s technically reading on grade level – but only because they gave him a ton of extra time to do the reading test. (I feel like that’s a bit of a vicious circle thing. We got him extra time, so it looks as if he’s doing fine; maybe in fact the extra time wasn’t doing him a favour and he’d have been better off failing so the school understood his needs better. But I don’t want to see my smart kid failing just to make a point to the school; that’s bad for his self confidence and for his faith in the system that’s here to teach him. So, on the whole, it’s good that he’s had the extra time because that’s given us the cushion we needed while we searched for this diagnosis.)

This doesn’t come as a shock to me. I’ve been through the “But how can my baby be other than perfect?” stuff and the “Did I drop him as a baby? Did I skimp on the vitamins at a vital point in his development?” stuff and also the “But if we were in Ireland he’d never get this help” stuff last year when we started vision therapy, so I’m already at the “This is a positive thing that gets us the things we need” stage, mostly.

I could go back through old posts to find when it was I first felt that Dash had more difficulty with reading than maybe was normal. But the reality is that never having seen a child learn to read, we didn’t know what it was meant to look like, and when people keep assuring you that it will come so long as you have books in the house and you read every night and they do their mandated 20 minutes a day, you think that they must be right and this is what it coming looks like, even when it sounds painfully difficult to you and you don’t remember it ever being like that when you learned to read.

But at some point I said “This isn’t the way it’s meant to be” and we went down the vision therapy route, and that was helpful, but it wasn’t the Answer.

So maybe, maybe now we have the Answer. And it’s just the beginning.

Dash with globe jigsaw

I think I only see how big he’s getting when I look at a photo. He’s even starting to grow into those ridiculously enormous-seeming two front teeth.