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Any one else homeschooling a dyslexic child?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I just recently realized that my son (9yo) is dyslexic.  He has had trouble reading and writing for forever, and now that I am expecting him to write more independently (we were doing a lot of copy work before) it has become obvious that he is dyslexic.  He frequently switches his letters and numbers around, sometimes he writes ALL of his letters backwards and starts on the wrong side of the paper, etc.  I have not had him formally diagosed, and this is mostly because I don't know what to do next.


Is there some way I can get him tested so that we can get some sort of formal diagnoses?  It would preferably be free, since we are very poor right now.  Also, what type of curriculum or teaching style do you use?  I have read that instructions on phonetics is the best for dyslexics, but it was in an old book.  Have you told your child that they are dyslexic?  I don't know if that information would be helpful to him, so I am hesitant to share it and also it is only a hunch (that I am almost totally positive of!).


Any other information would be greatly appreciated!

post #2 of 14

I don't know of any free testing.  I skipped the formal testing with my daughter because I was 99% sure of the diagnosis.  Additionally, I had already pulled her out of school and so the testing would have no purpose.  I decided to choose materials that were better for dyslexics.  These materials work for other kids too--in case I was wrong.  I was flexible in my mind set and knew that I would change things if it wasn't working.  I did pay for screening for Auditory Processing Disorder, she had seen a dev. optometrist who is certified in vision therapy, and I paid for Neuronet therapy.  In regards to the APD and vision, I wanted to make sure I wasn't dealing with a collection of things.  Neuronet was something I heard about on the yahoo dyslexia group. I actually saw her make a ton of progress because of neuronet although it isn't a program specifically for dyslexia.  


I love the dyslexia group on yahoo groups. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/dyslexiasupport2/  

There are so many helpful people there.  Many have kids that have dyslexia and something else.  It is nice to hear what works for some kids and what doesn't.


Barton is a very popular reading program for dyslexic children.  It is expensive.  I found it tedious, my daughter hated it.  However, I was able to take All About Spelling and use it to teach my dd reading.  Both Barton and AAS are Orton Gillingham based programs.  Now, AAS has made a program called All About Reading.  I don't know if it is similar to what I did or not.  It took a bit of work on my part to make AAS work for both.  For my daughter, tactile learning is a boost for her.  Using the tiles with the program was very helpful.  I also bought the I See Sam books.  We also have ETC (Explode the Code) but we wait until something is review before dd uses it.  That way it is reinforcement for her.  


Now, dd is using sequential spelling.  She seemed to hit a "spelling wall" in the middle of level three of AAS.  So we are trying something different.  I use the computer version because the words are written out in different colors for her to see.  I am also using REWARDS.  It is a reading program that focuses on multi-syllable words.  Last year, I tried it but she wasn't ready for it.  This year, it is helping a lot.  


I think dd is also a bit dysgraphic.  Her handwriting is 'odd' (for lack of better word) and painfully slow.  We used HWT to teach her cursive.  Her cursive is better than her printing and I think she will switch to using cursive.  We have also been teaching her to type.  I also bought some pencil grips that help keep her fingers on the pencil correctly.  She seems to like them and I notice that she isn't pressing so hard into the paper now.  


My dd DOES know that she is dyslexic.  We don't make a big deal of it, but it has helped her to understand that her brain processes stuff a bit differently and that she isn't 'stupid'.  She is very creative, artistic, sees 'outside the box', etc.  We remind her of her strengths when she is feeling down.  We also know several others who are dyslexic.  It is nice for her to know that these other completely normal, smart, people are also dyslexic.


Additionally, I have found that dd excels in science (we learn with lots of hands on activities).  She does well with math concepts.  Math facts are hard, but we don't dwell on them.  If she is doing long division or something, she will pull out a multiplication table to help her move through the problems faster.  Most math doesn't present any problem.  Again, we use hands on learning whenever possible.  Coins and telling time were concepts where the learning was completely hands on.  


I don't know if any of this is helpful or not.  It sounds like your son has managed to learn to read.  Check out the yahoo group though.  It is a wonderful place to get information.



post #3 of 14
Don't know if this is helpful. I found it by googling 'dyslexia test'. Of course it gave me a 'strong likelihood of dyslexia'. I have no trouble reading, though.


A thought occurred to me. Has he had his eyes checked? Astigmatism can make reading and writing difficult.
post #4 of 14
I also meant to suggest that you do a lot of reading things aloud, if your son can learn by listening better than reading. That way he feels good about his ability to learn, separate from reading and writing difficulties.

I read to my son for *years* so he could keep learning. He's not dyslexic, but couldn't sit still to read. I decided learning was more important than *how* he learned, and it worked well for us. Just a thought.
post #5 of 14

I have a 9 year old who is fairly obviously dyslexic, especially when you see his writing. He now reads fluently and spells well but the mistakes he makes still are typical dyslexic ones (bdqp confusion for example. This is in a kid who can read the lord of the rings).


My experience with him was that it was hard on him, and me, to teach him to read. He wasn't going to learn on his own (I was pretty much an unschooler prior to this). He was also very willing to give up and stop trying to read, because it was so hard for him. So my first advice would be, if you can, wait til he wants to learn because it IS going to be hard for him. At the same time, and one of the big reasons I did push with my son, was that it was having a terrible effect on his self esteem and a knock on effect on all sorts of other things for him to be struggling SO MUCH with learning to read.


My mum is actually a teacher and a dyslexia specialist. This isn't entirely coincidental-there is a lot of dyslexia in my family which is why she qualified. So of course she gave us a lot of help, and she was confident enough that dyslexia was the issue to make seeking a formal diagnosis seen redundant. But most of the advice and help was common sense stuff. Basically, there's a strong argument that dyslexics need incredibly strong phonics skills to compensate for their other reading problems, and in particular as a fallback if they are tired, distracted etc. So the issue for us was how to teach these phonics skills in a way he could access. For him that was lots of multi-sensory stuff. I'd say he is an incredibly strongly auditory learner so we concentrated on that-songs, clapping games etc. The other things I did, to basically make him actually read the whole freaking word not the first sound and then guess, was teach him latin. Latin is highly phonetic and you have to read the whole word to get the meaning, you cannot guess because the ending is also crucial, there are very few wasted letters in Latin. Also, for a highly logical, archaelogy obsessed kid like him, it was perfect. And it felt like, rather than learning stuff slowly that his friends just seemed to "get", he was actually gaining a skill. What we did not do at any point was buy into an expensive program. We looked at his actual problems and discussed with him his needs and worked with them. Every dyslexic kid is different. 


My main advice would actually be to talk with your son and try to work out what he has specific issues with and deal with those. There isn't a magic program that will de-dyslexify kids. The issue for these kids is that their brain wiring makes it harder to learn certain skills that are highly valuable in modern society. I see this as a practical problem to be overcome. They need tools, and possible different tools to their non-dyslexic siblings. (I have two girls as well as my son: my older daughter basically just started reading when she was ready and my younger is going the same way. If I tell them a word, my god they remember it. If I tell them a sound combination like ch they remember it! . So totally different. )


Oh and did we give him that label? Not really. TBH mainly because it didn't seem like there was much point. I've told him that if he ends up in the education system he should consider getting an assessment for this dyslexia thing, just because he might benefit from extra time in exams (he reads fine now but writes very slowly and laboriously despite a lot of work, we might have to push for him to be able to type if this doesn't improve). But I've also been told that he might not be spotted as he compensates extremely well for reading problems-if the word is in context he'll generally be able to read it. So we'll have to see. At first I was reluctant to give him this label because I didn't want him to give up-though both his uncles, both engineers, were diagnosed as severely dyslexic while at school. Now, I'm not sure how useful a label it would be in a homeschooling context. He struggles with handwriting and reading. Dd2 struggles with doing any kind of task without wandering off and singing (she is 5). We all have things we need to work on.

post #6 of 14

There is a free ebook for families homeschooling a child with dyslexia that has guidance on curriculum, testing, etc. Here is the link: http://www.time4learning.net/content/successfully-homeschooling-your-child-dyslexia-610/

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone, all this has been super helpful. Now I need to read through all the information, and go from there. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, i wish someone would just tell me what to do!

We have got his eyes tested, a few years ago, and everything was fine then, but maybe we'll do it again.

Fillyjonk, we were unschoolers, but I have become totally disillusioned with it all because of ds1. I had a similar experience to you, my ds would have never been intrinsically motivated to learn to read. It was just way too discouraging for him to even try it. Also, I am open to talking with him about the things that he doesn't understand etc, but am doubtful that he will actually know how to express it.

AAK, I have noticed that my ds really likes doing cursive too, and his handwriting is a lot better in cursive then in print. I wonder if writing in cursive would help him with writing letters properly?
post #8 of 14

One more thing to throw in the ring... what looks like dyslexia is sometimes actually a visual processing disorder. Dyslexia is a language processing disorder which, among other things, makes sound/symbol connection difficult. A vision processing disorder would make him see letters backwards but not affect his understanding of what sound they represent. Since you said he sometimes starts on the other side of the paper, I think this is definitely worth looking into. Unfortunately, a regular eye doctor can't diagnose or treat this. You'd have to go to a developmental optometrist. By all means take all this great advice and start using dyslexia friendly resources, but don't ignore the possibility that his problems could be vision related.

post #9 of 14
Originally Posted by Natalya View Post

AAK, I have noticed that my ds really likes doing cursive too, and his handwriting is a lot better in cursive then in print. I wonder if writing in cursive would help him with writing letters properly?


There is a whole argument FOR using cursive vs print.  I read the arguments and wondered how that would work with my child.  In our case, cursive is a better fit.  There is no b/d confusion.  Also, each word is all connected--this makes it seem like it's own unit. . . dd spells better in cursive, I think it may be because she cements the whole word when she writes it.  If he likes cursive, I say encourage him to use it.


Here is a link (I realize it is a commercial not research type link, but it gives a decent overview of the concept): http://www.swrtraining.com/id29.html



post #10 of 14

"I wonder if writing in cursive would help him with writing letters properly?"


I'd say, my god, if it works let him do it!


My son was super-keen to learn cursive and very proud when he kind of did. Sadly, his handwriting was utterly illegible to anyone aside from him (including him even) and now, at age 9, he's going back and learning cursive properly and print too-because he now wants that skill. Slow and painstaking work for him, and I don't get how a kid who quite likes drawing could find this so hard but still. The real issue seems to be with transferring his (extensive) thoughts from his head to paper, he's not too bad with straight copy work (though not too bad is a relative term because he is literally copying whereas you or I might read, remember and then write). Anyway, the worst that came of this was that because he started before he was ready, he had to relearn. He's had a positive, self correcting experience of it. So I'd say, unless you need him writing for some reason, give him his head here. Its far more important to keep him motivated.


Oh and yes he might find it very hard to explain what he finds hard, absolutely. But I think there are ways to prod for this. You could say, "You know, when we were reading earlier you seemed to find it really hard to remember what "because" looked like. Am I right?" And if he says "yes", maybe just talk a bit about it. What does he find hard? Has he had this experience with other words and maybe found a way to remember them? How does he remember other stuff when he wants to?(baseball statistics, the time his favourite show is on, in my son's case it was multiplication tables and tricks).


I really do think that there is no program out there as good as you trying to understand him and trying to work with him. Its a matter of understanding what his problem is. Bear in mind that all dyslexics are just as different from each other as all NT learners are from each other. Basically, if he is dyslexic, learning to read is going to be hard, it is going to be a slog and all you can do is try to get him through it as efficiently and painlessly as you can. I've never read anything to suggest that you can grow out of dyslexia (and my god I looked!). However, you can gain the maturity to deal with it more effectively, to deal with the trials of learning to read and for some kids that's the most appropriate thing to do.

post #11 of 14

When I was concerned our daughter might be dyslexic I read an earlier version of this book and the information was quite helpful. I did get turned off when she said that parents shouldn't try to teach their children, they should leave that to the professionals. However, the information was still good. http://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Dyslexia-Complete-Science-Based-Problems/dp/0679781595/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363068537&sr=8-1&keywords=overcoming+dyslexia


I just posted this and wonder if it would help your son conquer sounds: 



My son is 7. We follow a child-led philosophy for homeschooling. However, I have been ringing my hands about his reading. (He doesn't really do cvc.) He's the kind of kid that if you were to mildly encourage something he would stop doing it for a couple years. Still, I've been trying to find something to encourage his own discovery of reading.


Well, I found it. It's a computer game that he loves and I think is brilliant. He asks to do it several times a day. In about a week he's been on the program 12 hours and 42 minutes. (I just looked at his online record.) My four year old is also using it, though she started doing it independently later than he did (mainly she watches her brother play.) So far she has been read two of the books and to my delight had 100% in comprehension.


Essentially you are on Ooka Island and the robot takes you from game to game. You have to play the games it takes you to (though after "reading" a new book you get 8 minutes of free play. You read a book after every 20 minutes of play.) The program responds to how well your child does. So my son is going full force ahead. Our 4 year old had to repeat several parts until she mastered them, though they move from game to game so much I don't think she realized she was repeating. There's a lot of "speed" in the games--mountain climbing then skateboarding down the mountain, riding on jet skis, going down a mine shaft in a cart that jumps tracks, etc. Then there's the flying pigs that fall into the lake if you select the correct sound, and the cakes that fall in the recycling bin if you choose the wrong sound.


One of my favorite games is a load of stuff has fallen into a river. You have to hear the two sounds to figure out which item they are indicating then click on the item before it goes over the waterfall. So, you will hear, "J  EEP" and have to click on the jeep. I think one of the things about phonics that can be overwhelming is to try and make sense of a string of sounds. Even my 4 year old is quickly figuring out this game. (I am in no way interested in my 4 year old learning to read. However, she likes the game so I stay out of her way with it.)


Anyway, it's on special at the homeschooler buyers co-op. If you call the ooka island company directly you can get a two week free trial. You download the program then have internet connection for maintaining the stats and such. It's a HUGE program, 2 gig, so we had to get the free disk mailed to us (we live in the mountains and have satellite internet with only 15 g per month of data.)


There is a small demo on the co-op page but there is a much better one at the company website.


Here is a link to the co-op page (with a good discount. $40 for one child $52 for up to 4 kids.) https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/ooka-island/?source=98770Disclaimer, if you use this link I get points for the co-op though I won't know who is buying using my link.


Here is a link to the website video tour: http://ookaisland.com/video-tour/


Like I said, our son has been totally against learning to read. With this game he is mastering concepts he balked at before. At the rate he's going he is on the fast track to reading and he doesn't even know it.

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

I am feeling so frustrated today.  Here are the things I have done lately regarding ds' suspected dyslexia: -went to the doctor and talked to her about my suspicions.  She asked him what 8*7 was, and then told me that she had no qualifications to diagnose dyslexia. irked.gif Since I told her my son goes to the public school for specials (music, art, gym) she suggested I ask them to test him.  I talked to the teacher of ds' "class" and she told me they are not qualified to diagnose dyslexia either, that it must be a medical professional, and anyways the state of Michigan does not recognize dyslexia as a learning disability.  My hope was that after getting him diagnosed we could maybe qualify for some sort of services but that is looking doubtful now.  I guess I am still feeling like I don't know for sure what is going on with him, and frustrated that it seems like these professionals are not able to help me.  I have been reading the book you mentioned, SundayCrepes, and though I am only halfway through I am starting to doubt that he has dyslexia.  That is making me wonder what exactly I can do next.  I just don't see the phonological weakness in ds' abilities that she talks about as being the main problem of dyslexics.  I feel paralyzed and also like no one who is supposed to be more qualified than me can help me either.  This is so depressing! 

post #13 of 14

You mentioned in your first post that it took him a long time to learn to read, so perhaps he was able to work out the phonological stuff himself.  Or, perhaps he truly reads by sight.  If you gave him a list of nonsense words, could he sound them out.  Can he play the verbal games that remove/replace sounds. . . "if I take the /l/ sound from flap and make it an /r/ sound, what will it sound like"  (don't say the letter name, just say the sound between the slashes).  


Could be that he is just dysgraphic?  Have you visited that yahoo group that I mentioned earlier?  The people on there are really good at picking this information apart, many deal with more things than just dyslexia.  They might be able to point you in the right direction.  


Good luck!



post #14 of 14

I just re-read your first post. Maybe it's a vision problem. When I was a kid we saw an eye doctor that had me do eye exercises at home. My brother had significant vision problems...he could read vertically (as in columns of numbers, but not horizontally) so he did exercises in the doctor's office.


When I became a stepmom I took the kids to the same doctor I'd seen even though I lived 125 miles from him. He referred us to someone in our city. My stepson did eye exercises utilizing a computer game and my stepdaughter got glasses that kept her from needing glasses when she was older.


From what I've seen, most eye doctor's aren't trained for this. They just put you in glasses to take care of the problems quickly and you become dependent on glasses. By the time I started making babies both the above mentioned eye doctors had retired. It took me several years to find an eye doctor with the same philosophy in our town.


Perhaps an eye exam by the right eye doctor would be of use. Here is a page about the eye doctor my kids saw (I need to make them another appt.) Maybe something here will give you help in finding a good eye doctor where you live. http://www.optometrists.org/visionnow/

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