What would you do?

syakSeptember 18, 2002

I have 13yr old 8th grade student that has always stuggled academically in school. I worked closely with her and her teachers every year to keep her grades up. By the time she was in 4th grade she was diagnosed with ADHD. We tried medication at the time but really didn't see an improvement so we eventually took her off. Did modifications in the classroom that seem to help somewhat. Up to that point and every year before I would ask her teacher why would she have so much trouble. Could it be this or that? Always the answer came back that she was at grade level or just below and that she would catch up. We had her tested for learning disablilties through the school and through an outside educational psychologist. Both came up with her being at grade level with low reading scores. Nothing that a little effort on her part couldn't improve. She did not qualify for special resources. Well we continued the same path with each year no better than the last. In 7th grade

her grades dropped even more. I knew there still had to be something. I felt like I was the only one talking and no one was listening. How could a student score at grade level across the board still end up with D's and F's. I saw she wanted to do good. She worked very hard yet still would end up with the low grades. This summer I took her to yet another educational psychologist to see if he could test her and help me fine tune her accomadation plan at school. He said she never learned her basic phonics! On top of that she was dyslexic. Okay now I had a road to follow but how? I don't and can't trust the school to give her the help she needs anymore. We have looked into Sylvin Learning Center. It seems like a good program but to be honest I was surprised at the cost and the time commitment if would take to bring her up to her current grade level. I would find a way to pay it in a minute if I new for sure it would be the answer I am looking for but life holds no guarentees. There is also a program called the Drake Institute but again I don't know enough about the program other that what I have seen on the web site and a brochure they sent me. I don't know if I should do the Sylvin, the Drake, Hooked on phonics at home, go back to the school....

Has anyone worked with any of the aboved mentioned? I am kinda going in circles here right now.......What would you do?

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I think I would work with the diagnosing psychologist to find a tutor, preferably a retired teacher who understands how to work with a dyslexic child. Perhaps your psychologist could help you with asking the right questions of a potential tutor. Then ask at the schools if they have any lists of retired teachers who want to tutor. Ask at the local university education department too. I think a perfect match would be a retired, loving woman who enjoys the one on one relationship with your daughter and would want to give that little extra to see her succeed.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 5:59PM
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I would bring her home and find a teacher to help me with her at home---Homeschool for a year or 2 and see if that makes a difference--there are many programs out there you could teach her with

    Bookmark   September 19, 2002 at 8:13AM
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Boy homeschooling sounds really good right now. I did finally connect with her educational psychologist and he discouraged me from using the learning center. He said she needed to learn sensory based and that the school would not offer that. He gave me names for two tutors that are speech pathologist that could help me.

I can get my hands on the hooked on phonics game and I will work with her on that along with this new tutor. If I still don't see results, I could fall back on the learning center as a way maybe not to solve the problem completely but give me a hand up.

Thank you both for your input. I appreciate it!!!


    Bookmark   September 19, 2002 at 8:22PM
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PLEASE take your child in for a complete eye examination. Find an OPTHAMOLOGIST, preferrably one who specializes in pediatric, developmental vision problems. If you do not have vision, don't be tempted OR satisfied by an "eye exam" at WalMart, etc. Here's why:

We began homeschooling our son in first grade. I noticed he wasn't "grasping" reading. I used Alpha Phonics, a thourough phonics progam. Results...few. I thought perhaps he wasn't "ready" so...we switched to the Expode the Code series. We returned to Alpha Phonics at the beginning of second grade. Same results. Convinced he had a vision problem and without any vision insurance, we went to WalMart for one of their eye exam specials. Dx...farsighted with an astigmatisim in the left eye. GREAT! For under a hundred dollars we had the eye exam and glasses! I had an "answer" as to why he had such problems reading. WRONG. He was still struggling. At this point, I began to blame myself. Why, I must not have chosen an appropriate program. 100 EZ lessons, more Explode the Code and Reading Reflex later...I took him to a different eye doctor, one that had been highly recommended by a friend (whose child had been labeled "dyslexic" and "learning disabled" by the local ps) this eye doctor did a thourogh exam and found her son had a developmental vision delay. I took my son and guess what? Yep, an undiagnosed vision problem. My son is now in bifocals to correct a DEVELOPMENTAL VISON DELAY. To make a long story longer...he can not TRACK left-to-right because he is ever so slightly crosseyed (no you can NOT see this by watching him read). His eye doctor told me that most reading problems are NOT dyslexia or actual learning disabilities...rather UNDIAGONOSED vision problems. As he put it, "No phonics program in the world will improve your child's reading IF his eye's can not do their job...the signal to the brain can NOT be made." Many children have vision problems and will only improve by proper diagnosis/corrective lenses and/or vision therapy. If you've already ruled out vision problems...take the time to get a second opinion. My son is quickly catching up! However, this has not been without countless hours spent one-on-one with him, day after day. I will say that Phonics Pathways/Hiskes, especially Pyramid is an EXCELLENT program for children who specifically struggle with tracking problems. You can check them out at http://www.dorbooks.com Best wishes.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2002 at 10:05PM
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I tried Hooked on Phonics - it's all a bunch of fluff, very little learning, and it was boring for my kids. If your DD is having problem w/ basic code, try Reading Reflect - you can check the book out of the library by the same name. You can call their 800 # to get hooked up with a certified tutor in your state. I did all of that with my first DS, and he STILL read below grade level. Did the vision exam mentioned above, at Ohio State University - a 4 hour exam in 2 sessions, and he tested negative for eye problems. We were at our wits end. Then we went to an occupational therapist and had him tested for Sensory Integration Dysfunction. He had had a general OT exam the year before, but it doesn't pick up SID. AFter 9 months of OT for SID, and doing Listening Therapy at home, he's reading 2 grade levels ABOVE his grade.

I'm not telling you this to say your DD has SID, but to encourage you to try different approaches - reading problems are usually a symptom of a much more pervasive problem, and if you never find the problem, the symptom won't improve. It may take going to 2, 3, or more specialists, but you will eventually find the real problem. Good luck!

And, I'd stay away from Sylvan. I work for an insurance company, and one of our VPs left to run a Sylvan center. She had 20 years experience in the insurance industry but not a day's experience in education. That made me leary of Sylvan - anyone with enought $$ can buy a franchise.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 6:13PM
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What great information. I did have her eyes checked by an
opthamologist recently and he said she was fine. A second opinion is a good idea. Especially if I can go in with a specific something for him to look for.

I haven't received my final report from her psychologist, but I do remember him mentioning an OT and that his suggestions would be in the report as soon as he finalized her testing. Thanks for bring that up. Now it won't sound so foreign to me when I get the report.

Thanks you all for your input. It really helps to have different roads to try especially since I was feeling like I was in front of a wall!

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   September 22, 2002 at 7:07PM
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Stories like your's make me so angry. I'm in my 40's and have no kids. I pay a whopping tax bill every six months and nearly 80% of it is directly related to the public school system. I'm perfectly fine with paying taxes to educate kids, but when I hear so many stories like your's I begin to wonder precisely what is being taught in classrooms.

I read when I entered kindergarten. So did my brother. So did my husband and his two brothers. How were we taught to read? PHONICS. It works. But a teacher who is fresh out of college with a bellyful of "teaching theory" and a nervousness of incurring the ire of parents when told their child is substandard is wholly incapable of getting results. My mother is a librarian and she is appalled at how poorly so many kids read these days.

As a taxpayer, you should go to the school and demand a tutor for your child. Pay for Sylvan or Hooked on Phonics? why? that should be part of the curriculum in your town. If your child, "fell through the cracks" you must shoulder some responsibility yourself and begin demanding the system correct the oversight. Obviously, your kid was simply passed along because nobody was willing to say, "No, the kid can't make the grade.".

Turn off the TV. And read, read, read. Make sure your child reads aloud and you have a copy of the book to ensure the reading is correct! It works and it takes a lot of time to perfect reading aloud. I'd opt for homeschooling, too!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2002 at 5:46PM
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There has been some great advice given above. I agree with the eye exam and an OT evaluation.

As someone trained to teach LD(not currently teaching full-time due to personal situation), I just want to let you know that the school probably was right by their testing standards. To qualify as LD by testing standards, you must be performing significantly below your ability. If the child does not fall far enough out, then they do not qualify for services. This is to limit the number of children serviced by special ed. I know it does not sound right(and IMO-it isn't), but many school districts have what is called an "at-risk" program. At school districts in our area, children who are identified as "at-risk" are those who do not qualify for LD services, yet are struggling and "at-risk" for failing and they qualify for extra help, often times one-on-one tutoring with a qualified person(either the Title 1 teacher or special ed. aide). I know that this may not fix things completely, but it could help. Don't give up on the school. If you push, often they will provide what the child needs.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2002 at 11:42AM
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