Teaching My “Unteachable” Daughter How to Read

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After reading your article, “Waiting to Fail” Instead of Teaching a Child How to Read, I had to write to add a “hooray” to your article!

When my daughter was in elementary school, the school told us she would NEVER read. Being the Special Ed Teacher that I am, I did not believe a word the school told me about my daughter’s reading ability.

I took a summer off to teach my “unteachable” daughter.

My adopted daughter, who is now 25, has Fragile-X and Aspergers.

That summer, I immersed her in words. I labeled everything labeled all over the house. I used alphabetic-phonics to teach her the basics. We read everyday!!

She even tells people now that she HATED that summer of her life. But it was worth it!

After a very long, long summer, school started up in the Fall. The teacher had “reading” time. She put Jenny over to the other side of the room to do her bead work.

Jenny Joins the Reading Circle

WELL, my daughter put herself in the reading circle. Jenny sat there , but the teacher insisted that she had to leave. Jenny insisted a little harder!!

When it came time for her to read, the teacher wanted to skip her!! Jenny showed the whole class what she could do.

She was reading on a 2nd grade level-after just one summer!

I got a call from the teacher that night wanting to know what I did!

Alphabetic-phonics! It changed the way the school, and more importantly, how Jenny felt about herself!

People should never give up! Jenny still isn’t fond of reading, but she can!

From Pam: Not Giving Up

Thanks for taking the time to write and share your and your daughter’s wonderful story.

Re: not giving up on kids, we agree with you 100%. People learn differently. All kids don’t learn the same way or with the same method. If one method isn’t working, change to a different method – and that’s what you did.

It’s scary to realize that school people are ready to throw in the towel when kids are young.

Diana King, the tutor who taught Pete to read, developed programs to teach reading to prisoners. Most had learning disabilities and hadn’t learned to read as children. But they did learn to read when they were adults when it is so much harder.

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“Waiting to Fail” Instead of Teaching a Child How to Read

  1. Kerri—
    I would say it depends on the training and the program used by your special education staff. I have not used any comprehension program, but I can tell you that the Barton Reading and Spelling system has worked well in my school. The Barton system is designed for parents to implement, and it has been used by everyone from reading specialists to aides–with measurable success.

  2. My son who is in High School also has ASD and for years struggled with severe difficulties with reading comprehension. Last year I put him in tutoring with Lindamood-Bell Learning Services. Since then he has made years worth of progress! I highly recomend them. They specialize in kids and adults with Learning Disabilities, ASD and much more. Lindamood-Bell has locations nation wide and can be reached at http://www.lindamoodbell.com They are expensive(small group instruction is available to help reduce the cost) but very much worth it!

  3. My daughter has ASD and school just determined Learning Disability. They suspect Dyslexia but won’t diagnose due to her ASD diagnose clouding things. My daughter is in 2nd grade reading at an end of kindergarten level, barely. My question is, should I allow her special education teacher to teach her reading skills or insist on a reading specialist at her school?

  4. Our son tested still at or below kindergarten level in reading comprehension in the fall of 2010. Through advocacy we then began to home school, using Reading MIlestones and also using the same technique as was suggested to us by Dr. Temple Grandin, to LABEL EVERYTHING. We even bought our son a label maker and allowed him to go around the house labeling whatever he wanted, provided he put the right word to the object.

    Now, a year later, all those naysayers are proved wrong as he is comprehending on a third grade level, and now with the comprehension skills in place, he is working fourth grade word problems in math. People often say it can’t be done when the truth is that they just don’t know how or they don’t want to do what is needed to get the job done. No parent should sit back and allow their child not to be taught to read!

  5. I was on that wait to fail road with my sons school as well. He was in the third grade and had been in special education for 2 yrs with hardly any progress. I took him to get an evaluation and I was shocked. He was reading and spelling and doing math at a k-1st grade level…he is profoundly Dyslexic.
    I had been trying for years for a trained teacher for him. When I addressed the school with the report they blamed my son. They said his attitude was poor and he wouldn’t learn.
    Yes, his attitude was poor due to years of failure. He had even stated that he didn’t want to live anymore.
    I pulled him out and began home schooling him with the Barton Program. He is finally learning to read. I would of had to hire an attorney and fight them and my child did not have that time or I the money.
    Good luck to all!!!

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