Dyslexia…the road I’ve traveled
The Lord has blessed me with eight wonderful children. Of those eight, two have Dyslexia, and I am suspicious that the five year old may also be dyslexic. Dyslexia runs in families, so it is an inherited gene. It can be mild or severe. One in five people have some form of dyslexia.
In the 90’s I had suspicions that something was not quite right concerning the area of reading with my second born daughter. She had a very hard time learning to read, even with intensive phonics instruction. She also had a lot of difficulty memorizing her math facts. I took her to a respected physiologist who administered several tests, at that time he determined that her issues were ADD related. As her mom, I knew this did not sound right. Not knowing what else to do I continued with phonics and comprehension skills throughout her school years.
When her younger brother began to have the same struggles, I started doing my own research, which was much easier now than it was in the 90’s with so much more information available on the internet. I had suspected he might have dyslexia because unlike my older daughter he continued letter reversal well into third grade. I began to educate myself on the signs of dyslexia. I then had him tested and I asked that a Woodcock Johnson be one of the tests administered. This particular test will indicate if a child has phonemic awareness issues. The test indicated he did indeed have phonemic awareness issues. With this information, I had my daughter who was now a freshman in college evaluated also using the Woodcock Johnson and with no surprise, she had the same issue. I am happy to say she is now doing well and receiving the accommodations she needs so that she can be successful through college.
I want to encourage you that if you think your child might have a learning difficulty, or be dyslexic, it usually takes several tests to determine what the issue may actually be. You cannot depend on one specific test. My son had several tests administered and each corroborated the other. Because Dyslexia can be mild, moderate, or severe, using one single test is not recommended. Because dyslexia is hereditary, I knew what we were looking for with my older child.
Having a name to put on their struggles has set both of my children free. They now know they really are intelligent, they just learn in a different way. In fact, dyslexics are gifted in areas controlled by the right side of their brain. They are usually gifted in these areas: art, music, athletics, mechanical ability, great people skills, 3-D visual spatial skills and more.
As a parent, when one of your children struggles you will do whatever you can to help them. The first thing I did was hire a Wilson language tutor until I could get the training I needed to help my son. Little did I know at that time that I would have the privilege to use my training to help other students who struggle with the same issues.
If you have a child whom you think may have phonemic awareness issues a reading program based on the Orton-Gillingham method has research-based evidence that shows it to be very effective. Orton-Gillingham is different from other reading programs because of what is taught and how it is taught. Dyslexia is not a maturity issue, Meaning a child with dyslexia won’t “grow out of it.” The earlier it is detected the better.
Here are three Orton-Gillingham based programs you might want to consider.
Wilson Language Program– This is the one I use at a small Christian School where I am now the Reading Specialist.
All About Learning– I have not used this program, but from what I see online it is Orton -Gillingham based. It may be a great home school option.
Barton Reading System & Spelling– This is another great Orton-Gillingham based program.
Here is a little more information about what dyslexia actually is. Most of my information came from Susan Barton’s site. She has a wealth of information.
What exactly is Dyslexia? According to the National Institute of Health…
- “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin.
- It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
- These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.
- Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
Phonemes are the smallest unit of spoken language. Children who do not have phonemic awareness cannot distinguish sounds within spoken words. If a child has phonemic awareness, issues they will have difficulty with letter sound relationships.
The NIH states…
- “The lack of phonemic awareness is the most powerful determinant of the likelihood of failure to learn to read.”
- “Phonemic awareness is more highly related to learning to read…than tests of general intelligence, reading readiness, and listening comprehension.”
- “Phonemic awareness is the most important core and causal factor separating normal and disabled readers.”
Warning signs of Dyslexia.
Common myths about dyslexia such as dyslexics see words and letter backwards
Famous people with dyslexia.
When my Dyslexic children have a hard day, I remind them that God has made them for His glory. Their Dyslexia was not an accident. It is part of His plan, and He will use it for His Glory if they will let Him.
“Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.” Isaiah 43:7
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” Isaiah 55:8
Blessings~ Kim @ littlesanctuary.com
Additional articles on Dyslexia
Defeat Dyslexia by catching it early
Video from the US Dyslexia Congressional Caucus
Navigating School with a Dyslexic Child: One Mom’s Story
James Middleton: How I battled my crucifying dyslexia to read at Kate and William’s wedding