Monday, September 12, 2011

Dyslexia

Two of my siblings have learning disabilities.  So does my uncle.  My siblings graduated with honors from college, my uncle barely graduated high school.  I'm pretty sure my siblings enjoyed the success they experienced because they were carefully home schooled by my mom, whereas my uncle got lost in big public school classrooms.  One of the best things for a child with dyslexia or a learning disability is one-on-one instruction.

There are many misconceptions about dyslexia and learning disabilities out there, many of which I came across while teaching.  Believe me, it's a hard thing to suggest to a parent that his/her child may have a learning disability.  No parent wants his or her child to struggle.  However.  Being diagnosed is the best thing for a child who has a learning disability because believe me, the child already knows something isn't right.  Usually it's that they think they're stupid.  

One of my siblings thought this way.  When he was finally tested (in junior high!), it came as such a relief to him.  He had always thought he was dumb (and often joked about it), but in reality, he was just trying to hike up the same hill as the rest of us, only he was carrying 50 lbs in his backpack as compared to everyone else's 10 lbs.  No wonder he had difficulty keeping up!  

For the sake of this post, I'm focusing on dyslexia, not the general umbrella of 'learning disability', which is pretty broad.  

What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disability in which an individual's brain has difficulty processing language.  Translating language into thought (listening and reading), or thought into language (speaking and writing) is very difficult for them.   Identifying the sounds in a word is difficult for a dyslexic, as well as interpreting words, letters or symbols.  It is important to note that one of the requirements for being diagnosed with dyslexia is that a child has an IQ that is average to above average.  Dyslexia is in a completely different category from mental retardation.

Some statistics:
80% of individuals diagnosed with a learning disability have dyslexia.  This means it's the most common LD.
Dyslexia affects more boys than girls.

What are some indicators my child might be dyslexic?
This helpful list is taken from the University of Michigan's site:

Preschool:
  • Doesn't know how to hold a book
  • Can't tell the difference between letters and squiggles
  • Can't recognize own name
  • Only says a small number of words
  • Doesn’t like rhyming games and can’t fill in the rhyming word in familiar nursery rhymes
Kindergarten:
  • Can't tell the difference between the sounds that make up a word (phonics)
  • Slow to name familiar objects and colors
  • Can’t remember the names and sounds of the letters
  • By the end of kindergarten, can’t write most of the consonant sounds in a word (it’s normal for vowels to be missing until later)
1st and 2nd grades:
  • Has trouble pronouncing new words and remembering them
  • Has trouble blending sounds together to say words
  • Says reading is easier for their classmates
  • Falls way behind their classmates
  • Can't figure out unknown words
  • Avoids reading
  • Resists reading aloud
2nd and 3rd grades:
  • Starts to withdraw
  • Has some troubling behavior
  • Seems to guess at unknown words
  • Does not get meaning from reading
I suspect my child may have a learning disability.  Now what?
Don't hesitate!  It is better to have your child tested so that you can better understand him, and give him the tools he needs to succeed.  For example, if he is laboring under a learning disability, many parents would say, "He just can't sit still.  He needs to work harder.  He needs drill practice."  They are in effect treating a headache with Pepto-Bismol, instead of giving the proper treatment that will mediate the child's problem.  

But I'm homeschooling, and private diagnosticians are expensive!
Under federal law, a public school is REQUIRED to test for disabilities any child who lives within the district.  This means that whether your child is in public school, private school, or home school, the public school has to administer diagnostic testing if you the parent request it.  After all, your taxes go towards paying for this service!  For lots of helpful information on how to go about the referral process, including some do's and don'ts, read this article.  

Remember, your child's best advocate is YOU.  Good luck!

*** Edited to Add:  As seen in the comments section below, the fabulous Ami (read her guest post here!) had this to say:

I'd add that, while districts may be required to test, they are not reqiured to provide services to home schoolers - BUT, many times therapy (speech, PT, etc.) is covered under insurance, including Medicaid. In fact, if your kids are in public school and you have medicaid, the district is probably charging them


Thanks for the info, Ami!


5 comments:

  1. I'd add that, while districts may be required to test, they are not reqiured to provide services to home schoolers - BUT, many times therapy (speech, PT, etc.) is covered under insurance, including Medicaid. In fact, if your kids are in public school and you have medicaid, the district is probably charging them.

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  2. Dylexia also mirrords Auditory Processing Disorders at a young age. When the Brain Can't Hear has been a great resource for me.

    In Texas, school districts are required to match speech. I am not sure about PT and OT.

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  3. What does that mean, 'match speech'?

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  4. provide. I guess the jargon we have used in the past is public education is required to "match services" for children in private school.

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