My Granddaughter Looks Very Normal until You Give Her a Book to Read

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My granddaughter is a happy little girl when not in reading situations.  She is almost 8, in the 2nd grade at a public school.

She has a reading disability the private testing psychologist called dyslexia, ADD inattentive type,  and a processing deficit.  Her language IQ is low-average, her processing speed is slow. She cannot read on grade level and in math she uses a number line.

We feel helpless and desperate with no help in sight. We are being forced to find a private school for her.  Next year she will never be able to pass the FCAT test and would automatically repeat 3rd grade.

We have grandchildren too. We understand your concern.

And, you’ve just described Pete Wright. Very similar symptoms except Pete had ADHD.

When he was a child in the 1950s, there was no special education. His parents were starting a family and careers. Pete’s teachers said he was borderline mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed. His parents didn’t agree.

His mother learned all she could about dyslexia and what could be done about it.

She searched for and found a tutor who was trained in the Orton Gillingham method, Diana Hanbury King. Pete received 1:1 tutoring for an hour a day with Ms. King for one year, then went to a summer program, then had 1:1 tutoring with Diana King for another year. By the time the tutoring ended, he was reading well above grade level, his spelling, math, and writing were fine.

Today, his ADHD remains full strength. 🙂

I will include links to two articles about Pete and what had to be done. The first article was published in the New York Times in 2003. It explains what Pete’s parents did to make sure his dyslexia was not a problem later (since the public school teachers didn’t know what to do), and how little things have changed in 50+ years:

Pete wrote “Three Generations at the U.S. Supreme Court”  after he successfully represented Shannon Carter, a young lady with dyslexia, before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“On October 6, 1993, Shannon Carter and Roger Saunders traveled to Washington, DC to hear Pete’s oral argument before the U. S. Supreme Court. In this article, Pete discusses the impact that Orton Dyslexia Society members had on his life, with thanks to Helene Dubrow, Diana Hanbury King, Roger Saunders, and Linda Summer.”

Bottom line: the public school teachers don’t know how to teach youngsters with dyslexia so you are wasting precious time if you continue to try to work with them. The sooner you get your granddaughter help, the sooner she will learn to read and won’t need the specialized teaching.

Reading at Wrightslaw

  1. My daughter has consistently struggled with reading. She is also ADHD and medicated. I have had her tested, but the psych says low verbal IQ is THE issue. She stated that she didn’t feel that dyslexia was the issue. She also has a low score in processing speed, but her working memory is in the 98th percentile. I am no doctor, but I cannot shake the feeling that the low IQ and dyslexia are not mutually exclusive. Additionally, the school has pushed back on me with the 504 and IEP discussion as they feel she is not “FAR ENOUGH” behind. Although she has had the medical diagnosis for ADHD for 18 months, they state she is just fine and no need for 504. Curious on your thoughts. Without dyslexia, but with low IQ not being a disability, what do I qualify for? What accommodations should i request?

    • Put your request for a direct parent referral to special education in writing saying you wish for the school to consider eligibility under OHI. Provide medical documentation of the ADHD. The school must respond to your written request. Also, be sure to email and deliver a hard copy (and make the school sign that they have received it- can be as simple as the person initialing and dating the top) so that you have proof it was delivered.

  2. We went through the same thing with our son. The first grade teacher keep telling us “He is fine” and my favorite “He is at grade level”. Needless to say in March of this year 2010 we asked for a IEE. We choose a Educational Psych. Doctor that was known hear for giving a very detailed assessments and comes to the IEP meeting to explain her findings. We had documented everything from March to October of this year and the out come (being paid by the district) was a private school that we chose including transportation. We were able to document 281 out of compliances. Your voice is so important and can only be taken seriously if you document. When you document the district gets nervous and 90% of the time lose to the parents because, again, we documented! Good luck and send our best;)

  3. Catherine It is nice to hear of a teacher that really wants to help and I do understand the restraints that the schools have. I do not know of any recourse a teacher has. I only know what parents have. If you choose advocacy it sounds like you would be great.

  4. I have a student that is not learning to read with the ‘approrved district model’ Rather this student needs Orton G or another well known program that the district thinks is too expensive. Ive been told not to specify programs in the IEP. Also, this student would benefit from a 1 to 1 aid. We are not adequately staffed and this adds to this students lack of progress. I was told not to even ask for more help in the class. Is this right? Where are teachers rights? This is so frustrating to me as a teacher and many other teachers. I know what my students need and feel that I am continually undermined (even threatened) by the processes that schools use to provide so called services (FAPE) to our most needy students. Exhausted with the system and wanting to do more, I am not sure I can fight any longer witin the school, considering advocacy..

  5. I have 2 children with dyslexia. The reading disability and the processing issues go hand in hand with dyslexia. Your daughter is in 3rd grade and unfortunately the school wasn’t able to provide the supports she needed such as a special ed. teacher trained in Ortin Gillingham to learn strategies in decoding and comprehension.

    Your daughter will benefit tremendously from a placement in a small private special ed. school that has a program with trained special ed. teachers. I know because I placed my daughter 5 years ago in a school for children with learning disabilities in the 4th grade. She is now an avid reader despite being 2 grade levels below. Don’t focus on the reading delays just focus on getting her the supports she needs to succeed such as proper training and accommodations so she can succeed in college.

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