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How can I help my daughter, who has dyslexia?


HebertMom August 25, 2009

My daughter, Drew, is seven years old and in the second grade. At the end of last school year my husband and I had a meeting with her teachers to discuss that she should be tested for dyslexia. I wasn't surprised that she had a problem, just dyslexia, I thought was a inherited LD. My husband is ADD and I thought maybe that's what her LD would be. No one we know, in our family, is dyslexic and although I've found information on characteristics of this LD. I haven't found any techniques or ways to help my daughter . Any insight or advice would be appreciated.

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michellea August 25, 2009

I have a son that was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 6 and ADHD at age 8. Once he was diagnosed, we realized that my dad most likely has dyslexia, and although no close relatives have been diagnosed with ADHD, I am certain that his grandmother and aunt have it. As you've noted, this is all hereditary! And, most experts estimate that somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of people with dyslexia also have ADHD.

That said, how to help?

You mention that your daughter was tested - was this by the school? Did she qualify for Special Ed and an IEP (individualized educational program?). What did the evaluators recommend?

Most students with dyslexia have difficulty breaking the reading code - understanding the sound symbol relationship and recognizing word patterns automatically. They need explicit and multisensory instruction to learn to decode the letters that make up words. Often times their ability to automatically and fluently read is also diminished, and they need extra practice reading out loud to become more fluent.

In addition to this specialized instruction, often times students with dyslexia also benefit by accommodations such as extra time, preferential seating, help reading text books and work sheets, audio books etc.

Great schools has some excellent articles on dyslexia and the special ed process. As your child's advocate, you will be most effective if you educate yourself both on her disability and the ways to help her learn as well as the sped process and how to insure that school adheres to special ed law.

Check out these great articles here at Great Schools:

In addition, join us at the Learning and Attention Difficulties group. You will find support and advice from parents that have faced similar issues.


HebertMom August 26, 2009

Thanks Michellea! This is a GREAT jumping off point. In our parish, I'm not sure if it's a state level requirement, a student has to be seven in order to be recommended for dyslexia testing. So after Drew turned 7 in March, her teacher and reading teacher, who had been compiling her work, submitted it for mediation. We had her evaluated by our parish school board in June. We got her results in by late July and when school started on August 11, I turned in her results letter to her school. Now my understanding is that her teachers and the school board will come together with us to present a customized IEP. She does attend reading tutoring at school during the course of her day. I was wondering if you've told your son that he has dyslexia? My daughter self-corrects, so she does know to look over her work. But my concern is that if I tell her she'll use it as a crutch. My husband was diagnosed with ADD when he was a junior in high school. He says that he used his ADD many a time to get his mom off his back about school work or bad grades on test. Plus I don't want her to feel singled out or different from her friends and classmates. Just wondering if that's a normal concern?


michellea August 26, 2009

When my son was first diagnosed with dyslexia, I simply told him that his brain was wired differently which made it difficult to read. I told them that with the right instruction and a lot of hard work on his part, he would be able to learn to read. Shortly after, there was a segment on the radio about dyslexia and the science around it. He was in the car as it was playing. That night, in tears, he asked me if this is what he had. I told him that it was and again explained that it only meant that he needed to work harder and that teachers needed to teach him differently.

He currently attends a school specializing in teaching kids with dyslexia. Now that he is in middle school, a large effort is focused on helping him become an active learner and a good self advocate. The school believes, as do I, that it is important that people have a good understanding of their strengths and challenges and that they learn systems and strategies to compensate. This self knowledge begins with an understanding of their learning style and how it impacts school and life.

I don't believe that this gets kids off the hook for anything. But, I do believe that sometimes they will approach tasks differently. In most cases, this means they must work harder and smarter to keep up.

As far as working with your school and writing your IEP. Please become familiar with federal law (its called IDEA) and state law. It is not true that students must be at least 7 to be tested for and diagnosed with a reading disability. Federal law mandates that schools test children within 60 days (shorter in some states) of the child being referred. Once the testing is complete, parents should receive a copy of the evaluation report that includes test scores and recommendations. Parents, as equal members of the IEP team meet with educators and specialists to determine if the child is eligible. If the child is eligible, the team, of which the parents are EQUAL members write the IEP. You have input and should speak up if to be sure the goals reflect what you think is appropriate and to be sure all aspects of the IEP are adequate to insure your daughter progresses adequately.

I am glad that your daughter is receiving services. As her advocate, please be sure that she is making progress and that the services are provided by well trained teachers, as the curriculum was written, with enough intensity.


Trackmom67 September 1, 2009

My daughter was in the 3rd grade when she was tested and identified as dyslexic. She is now 18 and leaves in 2 days for college. I know from experience that you have lots of questions and concerns at this point. I cried buckets in private when my daughter was diagnosed. I read everything I could find. I talked to experts. But the most important thing I did was to listen to my daughter. She was going through many emotions about her learning too. Over the years there were many challenges. Teachers who didn't understand her LD. Friends she lost because they made fun of kids with LD and she wouldn't tolerate it.

You asked how to help her. #1 is be there for her. You are her best advocate now until she gets older and stronger and becomes her own best advocate. Don't be afraid to ask questions and say "No" to things you don't like. I made the school district give her an extra set of books at home. I made them have the next year's teacher be part of the IEP process. It made no sense to me that the teacher who was going to instruct my daughter the following year not be part of the planning process, so I changed that. When my daughter qualified for Honors and AP classes, I made sure she was in them regardless of the fact that they had "never had LD kids in those classes."

#2 is be patient. There will be lots of good days and bad days ahead. Remember this is a lifelong situation. She will learn ways to cope, but there will be challenges. (For example, learning a foreign language or reading Shakespeare brought my daughter to tears.)

#3 is keep reading to and with her. I work in adult education and I see the impact of NOT reading. Keep books and other print materials readily available to her. Get books on tape/CD at the library. If she likes a particular author/genre, encourage her to read more.

I wish you the best as you navigate this journey with your daughter. There is hope! My daughter is going into Industrial and Systems Engineering. She chose a university that is known for working with students with disabilities.


HebertMom September 2, 2009

Thanks TrackMom67! The tips I'm getting here are GREAT! Drew and I read EVERY night and I've been getting her to write a lot too. She makes my grocery list, and my To Do list for me. A few techniques we've used for studying her spelling words is singing them! Sounds CRAZY but she ACED her test! That's again for the feedback! And giving some insight into a fast forward of what Drew's academic life has the potential to be. Good luck to your daughter in college!!


SarahS September 7, 2009

You need to get your child therapy in a good Orton-Gilliham program.

Beware of teachers in the school. Although they mean well, most teachers don't understand dyslexia and its affects. You will need to be your child's advocate. Fight for her rights and accommodations.

My daughter was diagnosed in the 2nd grade with dyslexia. She is currently in the 5th. She is doing well. Last year she had all "A"s. Reading is struggle and we put in a lot of hours.

Google Susan Barton Reading. Her websites have great information about Dyslexia.-- you can watch hours of videos. You'll understand it. Also, if your child has been officially diagnosed with dyslexia, go to the website--recording for the blind and dyslexic. Right now there is a free membership for 1 year. After that the fee is nominal. You can download books and textbooks onto a MP3 player. Tons of AR books are on the list as well as the required summer reading list. My daughter loves it. This past summer she was able to do her summer reading independantly. She had the book in front of her and listened to the book.

I explained to my daughter that she struggled with reading due to dyslexia. Dyslexics tend to be very logical. I first told her all the famous people who have dyslexia and their contributions to society. I told her that everyone with dyslexia has a gift and we need to see how the gift manifests in her. Next, I explained dyslexia as a road block or detour when it comes to reading, writing and spelling. I told her that she is so smart, that we just need to go around her dyslexia and keep moving forward. I told her that we don't have to like it, but its a fact of life.

After working with my daughter for 21/2 years, we know her gift is perseverance. She never gives up. When doing work in school, she knows when her dyslexia is getting in the way. She takes a step back. She will talk to her teacher about a classwork. If a teacher doesn't agree, she does the classwork and tells me about it when she gets home. It's been a good system for us thus far. We haven't had any issues with school and she is moderately dyslexic.

In short, learn all that you can about dyslexia. Make sure your daughter understands it too. Get the proper therapy. Tutoring with teachers do not work if they are not using an OG System.

--Be very careful. People like to take your money. Do your research


TeacherParent September 10, 2009

Learning differences can 'cluster' together but it may be that your daughter does not have true dyslexia. She's young and I have seen children struggle to read in the 2nd grade who yet become proficient readers by the 4th or 5th.
The main issue with dyslexia is the challenges posed by school - how does she keep up while still catching up in her skills? Has the school agreed to make accomodations for her and/or to modify the curriculum for her?
For any child particulary those who need help with reading, that child should be reading 15-20 minutes every night at home in a book that's EASY for them to read. That builds fluency. The book should not have unfamiliar words. For your daughter, that might be a preprimer book but it's important that she practice her reading daily in easy books.
It's also important that she be read aloud to every day in books at her grade level or above - again for 15-20 minutes every day. That will give her an edge and expose her to literature and language and help to prepare her to read harder books on her own. The brain reads words best when it's heard those words first so please read aloud to your daughter every day.

And don't hesitate to help with homework. I raised a son who is severely dyslexic and read his books aloud to him even through high school if he couldn't read them on his own.
Good luck.


betsyryan September 12, 2009

believe it or not, Karate helped my son to organize his left brain right brain confusion. It took MANY years for him to get it and hard work, but he's a happy man now who graduated from a 4 year college and writes 15 page letters to his girlfriend. Also as the others have said, Understanding, patience and an open ended commitment to your child that you will always be there to help. There are many kinds of dyslexia, so it's a kind of adventure you can experience together..finding out strategies that work for her.
I told my son that Englsih was not his first language, feeling I could be an interpreter if needed. He doesn't need it anymore!


dhfl143 September 12, 2009

I hope that you take the michellea's offer to join and post at the "Learning and Attention Difficulties" group here at Great Schools.

When my daughter was first diagnosed I found this web site to be extremely informative:

In addition, these video were very helpful and reassuring:

In the way of encouragement, this YouTube Video highlights the many talented persons who despite being dyslexic, managed to be rather successful:



DWWHITEMD September 15, 2009

Hello I had just seen your posting on your daughter, I my self was told in school when i was younger that i had add and dyslexia what has helped me was re-reading still at 26 I sometimes forget and get my words mixed up also having my Dr ex-plane to me what i was doing wrong and my patients not getting mad when i messed up. also reading book's lots of books helped me but every child is different too. eventually she will get old enough to now she will realize and fix it gradually it wont haunt her for ever.

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