The New Old Normal
Depression Hacks

AND THEN

On top of it all, in the middle of everything else, Ike has dyslexia.

I've suspected something was up for awhile now (one of my older brothers has dyslexia and I started spotting some similarities pretty early on). Ike is a smarty-smart-smart-pants and a good little student, but kept falling farther and farther behind in reading and writing. He knows his letters and phonics and all the mechanics and spends hours looking at books and trying to write, but when faced with with any word longer than three or four letters, he's completely lost. He flips letters around and upside down and fills the middle of words with strings of random vowels. His eyesight is fine and he's on grade level (or even a bit above) in math and everything else. He's been in speech therapy for a year now to correct his lisp and articulation problems, but his progress there hasn't resulted any improvement in his writing or spelling. I signed him up for a summer reading program that he LOVES and works SO adorably super hard at, but he's so behind his peers the teacher bumped his online curriculum down to the kindergarten level.

And then he told me that sometimes the letters and words move and wiggle around on the page, which. Okay, yeah. That's not good.

Fortunately he already has an IEP in place at school and dyslexia is an "easy" add, according to his team. He'll be formally assessed there this fall so services can get put in place ASAP. Meanwhile we're hurling ourselves into the word of reading specialists and tutors and WHAT DO WE DO HOW DO WE HELP. TEAM PARENT ADVOCATES, ASSEMBLE!  

We've got this. Or we will. We'll do our dangedest to get this. 

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Comments

Elizabeth_K

Just so glad you are here to lead the team; still so thankful for you being HERE. And your kids are so lucky to have you on their side.

Jenni

He told YOU. Not dad, not a teacher, not a brother, not the delightful but doofy dog --YOU. Glad you're hear to hear it. He can do this, so can you. :)

Carol

If words are wiggling on the page, you might want to investigate using colored overlays on text. They are used for Irlen’s Syndrome. For some kids the black/white contrast on a typical page exacerbates reading issues.

Sarah

Former professor of reading / phd in reading here....Look into Orton Gillingham trained therapists in your area. Be aware that there's currently a lot of people marketing themselves as dyslexia tutors but they don't have specific tools or training, they just know dylexia is "hot" right now as states are including dyslexia screening in state education policy. The local branch of the international dyslexia association might be able to point you to local experts/tutors: https://dc.dyslexiaida.org/ Finding someone who is able to take Ike through the specific OG curriculum would be my recommendation.

You might also look into computer programs that support dyslexic readers. Lexia.com is one -- https://www.lexialearning.com/products/core5 but I'm sure there are others.

Lisa

I hope you get lots of good ideas here <3.

KJ

font for dyslexics that has subtle changes so the letters don't flip and look like other letters (no personal experience, just a font junkie)
https://www.dyslexiefont.com/en/typeface/

Bren

I agree with KJ—I have that font on my Kindle and it helps me read so much faster and easier!

Sue W.

So glad you are here to help our Not A Baby Anymore Ike. Look how far Noah has come. With you as his advocate, Ike will thrive and grow.

Sabrina

You may want to try to find a vision therapist. My daughter was having similar vision issues. Her eyesight was fine, but her brain wasn't processing the letters correctly. After about 6 months of vision therapy (which retrains the brain on how to process letters), she had done a complete 180 degree change. It was startling how quickly things improved. That was about 5 years ago and she hasn't had the issues since.

Kathy

My oldest son has dyslexia. I starting telling teachers in Kindergarten through 2nd grade that he was struggling and having a hard time with reading and writing. Finally in the beginning of 3rd grade, the school district had hired a new special education teacher. With in a few hours of testing him, she was on the phone with me telling me that he had all the classic signs of dyslexia. She changed his life. He went from reading at a pre-school level to reading at grade level and beyond a few months later. She tried numerous way's of teaching until one day, one of her methods just clicked for him. He still reads and writes slower than some, but he reads and he writes. It was in his IEP that he did not have to learn to write in cursive because it was just to much for him. Today he is in his early 30's, married and has had a full time job for the same company for several years. Part of his job is filling out forms on a daily basis. If he was not gifted with that wonderful teacher, I don't know how his life might have turned out. Reading and writing are so important in today's society. I hope Ike is just as fortunate to finding the key to what unlocks the letters for him. It is an amazing thing to watch when they start comprehending the written word.

Lindsay

Oh my. Everything has a way of happening at once, doesn't it? You all can do this.

I hope you get all the help, so that you can take care of both you and your adorable, smartypants and uniquely tricky (aren't they all) kiddo.

Abby

My 7 year old was diagnosed 9 month ago with dyslexia. Our state isn’t super helpful with services, so we’ve gone the tutoring route. Find a tutor that uses one the proven dyslexia teaching methods (orton-gillingham, Barton, etc) not just a regular reading tutor. Dyslexic kiddo’s brains learn differently so they need to be taught differently. Also, I recommend reading Overcoming Dyslexia. Loooots of good info in there. I have digital copy of a shorter pamphlet in you would like me to email that to you. It’s a good summary and I’ve used to it forward to teachers. Good news is that you caught it early which is huge! Hang in there mama!

Veronica Miller

My son has dyslexia and something that has helped him are special prism glasses. They help his eyes focus correctly. He also starts vision therapy in Aug. He saw a behavioral optometrist and she’s helped him a lot. Hugs mama.

Molly Chase

My sweet husband, diagnosed with dyslexia in 3rd grade, is now a middle school remedial reading teacher and holds two masters degrees in teaching reading and teaching teachers to teach reading. He spots previously undiagnosed dyslexic and dysgraphic people at every turn. He suggests, for new readers recently diagnosed, a stiff piece of colored clear plastic, like a folder, to keep your place on the page—right below the line he’s currently reading, and moved down line by line as he goes. For some reason this stops the “movement.”

Rosie

Just here to say that we are on the other side of raising a child with dyslexia. Years and years of Orton-Gillingham, tutors and teaching him to advocate for himself. Kid couldn't read in 3rd grade. Kid finished his freshman year of high school on the honor roll at an intense all boys military school. And I'm serious when I say kids with dyslexia have this AMAZING way of seeing the world. My dude started photography this year, and his eye is incredible. He will never, ever be a good speller, and he will always listen to books vs. reading them. But, the kids will be alright. You got this.

Danielle

My sister's school recommends this program:

https://bartonreading.com/tutors/#bat

You can hire a tutor or do it yourself.
There are videos you can watch to see a demonstration of the method and a student "screening" as well.

Erin

I have a high school student with dyslexia, diagnosed in grade school. The most helpful things for us were going to vision therapy (it helped reading not be painful - he used to get terrible headaches alot and this helped resolve that issue - with the extra benefit of getting rid of his carsickness).

The other is an Audible subscription. He has access to audio versions of all of his reading resources, but the readers are sometimes a computer, or someone really difficult to listen to. He listens to talented readers and follows along in his novels (so he can mark pages and passages)- I am always amazed by the difference in what he retains when he listens versus when he reads.

Lisa

Congratulations! You have an interesting kid with a uniquely fortified brain!
My nephew has dyslexia. They failed and failed and failed to teach him to read, even tho he is very smart. We were so surprised, we thought he'd just blow the competition out of the water. But the reading just didn't work.

But one thing did: His Mom was paying attention and his summer program was getting him almost up to level 2 summers in a row, only to have him slide back during the year. So she sleuthed and found out what they were using:

The Lindamood Bell method. https://lindamoodbell.com

She went to a training session so she could work with him to get him on track. They also got all the assessments so he could have some assistive technology (thank you Harry Potter books!) and could get extra help and take his tests un-timed.

Fast forward a couple of years. He passed the entrance exam for the prep school where she worked. The small classes and the focus on academic success was very valuable (along with the subsidized tuition and during the day sports.) I expect that having a brothers who are curious and thoughtful will also help Ike.

Fast forward a couple of more years. He graduated high school in a normal manner (OK, he's still a crappy speller, but that's just life.) He got into a VERY VERY GOOD university and graduated in 4 years. THE FIRST IN THE FAMILY! (All his cousins have been on a much more - ahem - leisurely path.) He got a great job with an investment firm and just received his first promotion after a year. It turns out that the reading part is not really a barrier any more, he's got the tools to cope with that, but the extra strengths that he has, (and dyslexic kids are stronger in other areas) are proving to be an advantage later on. Now he has an edge that most don't have.

It will require extra work. But he is in good hands ;)

Shelly Kroll

GO TEAM IKE!

Nancy

My son is also dyslexic. Same kind of progression, was doing fine moving along and just didn’t progress as his peers (he is a twin so the differences were really obvious). We had him tested. He was given an ISP (private school) which included a reading tutor 2-3 times a week who taught in the Wilson method of rule based reading. He was in the program 3rd to 8th grade and ‘graduated’. He did really well, had an amazing teacher. He went on to a stringent HS college prep program had no support at all and graduated magna cum laude. He is returning for his sophomore year in a pretty high ranked private college. Your Ike will do amazing things, just a little differently!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Angela

Special ed teacher here. I work at a school for kids with learning differences. Most of them have dyslexia, and all of them are awesome. Like others have said, either have the school use a reputable Orton-Gillingham-based reading program (Barton, Wilson, and others), or hire a tutor, or even have the tutor come to the school if the school can’t accommodate Ike. Don’t let them fart around with stuff that’s no good. I can tell from the comments that lots of people know what they’re talking about with dyslexia, and it also gives me hope that the diagnosis and remediation is becoming more mainstream!

You’re looking for something systematic, sequential, and Orton-Gillingham-based, and he’ll need 30 minutes or more focused work on reading and spelling each day.

You got this! I’m happy to talk more if you want any pointers :)

CJ

My daughter is dyslexic (and mildly ADD, with a side of low executive functioning) and was diagnosed at the end of K; she’s now in third grade. We are still in a private Montessori school that has been fantastic for her, not least because the owner is a certified reading/learning specialist (she uses Orton-Gillingham) and does pullouts 3 times a week, which is not that disruptive in the individualized Montessori system. We’re nervous about heading into public in a couple of years because our county has a bad rep for dealing with dyslexia, so we’ll see. Dyslexic minds are amazing. You got this.

Nicole Joseph

Get yourself hooked up with Decoding Dyslexia Maryland and Decoding Dyslexia Montgomery County. That’s where all the parents who have been there and really know the latest are. Research whatever interventions the school offers and draw your own conclusions. https://www.decodingdyslexiamd.org/

Springsteen Fan

Eventually he might really enjoy Henry Winkler's Hank Zipzer series of books about a kid w/dyslexia. And yay for Orton-Gillingham! My late, great mom was dyslexic and became a remedial reading specialist so that kids would not have to grow up hearing that they were lazy or stupid, the way she did. It's amazing the great progress he'll make!

Megan

I wanted to second and third double-checking Ike's vision with a developmental and/or behavioral optometrist. I saw a few people call it out above, and it might be a very beneficial add-on.

Cynthia

Read Naturally has been amazing for helping our rising dyslexic second grader. His neuropsych recommended it and the schools use the program as well. Apple has it as an app and it was free for the first 60 days.

KimAZ

So much excellent advice and support in these comments! I'm a 30 year teacher and all the suggestions for OG/Barton/plastic overlay/developmental optometrist are spot on.

VB

Hi! So much for eeeaaasing back into life...
I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to read all of the comments, but I STRONGLY second the Orton-Gillingham recommendation. People our age (like my husband) just learned coping mechanisms to deal with dyslexia. The amazing thing now is that with specialized, evidence-based instruction, new neural pathways can be developed if you start early enough. MOST schools rely on tutoring that is not OG, and call it a day. You can’t rely on your school to provide what is necessary- Usually you have to fight for it. And literally every year that passes without direct instruction is opportunity lost.
My son is dyslexic and has had the amazing opportunity to go to the best school in the country that only teaches dyslexic kids (Windward school). I have seen so many parents cry for joy when their child is finally taught in a way that works.
The good news is these kids tend to see the “big picture” in life. I bet Ike is awesome!

Amy Bridges

APPARENTLY I'M THE ONLY ONE WHO IS SHEWK THAT IKE IS OLDER THAN KINDERGARTEN. What's up with the passage of time, am I right???

Bree aka Frema

You got this, and Ike will continue to thrive! <3

Nicole

My son is 8yo and has many many processing issues due to his cerebral palsy, and i'm a psychologist. I have three suggestions.

First, find a well trained educational psychologist to work with an tutor him. Such a professional should know several approaches and can find the ones that work best for Ike, and can train you and Jason on how to best support and help Ike.

Next, consider vision therapy. Visuospatial processing is such a large component of reading and writing, and vision therapy can help. You may even find that Ike would benefit from prism glasses. Prism glasses took our son from not being able to recognize letters to being able to point them out in DAYS. He knew the info, but couldn't' process what he was seeing.

Third, find a remarkable OT. One that is well versed in primitive reflect integration. https://www.toolstogrowot.com/blog/2016/01/11/primitive-motor-reflexes-their-impact-on-a-childs-function

These retained reflexes are indications that the sensory system is not matured and the brain can't do the higher order processing if it can't make sense of the inputs from the body.

Apparently, I have a 4th suggestion. Sorry, I lied and said I only had 3. Check into your school, you, or one of your therapists doing the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. It is a repetitive, child-based, processing deficit oriented approach to handwriting that is the standard in the field!

Michelle in NC

Also check out All About Reading, which is another OG-based program aimed at younger children. We tried Barton (which is very well-respected) but it wasn't fun enough for our first grader. We are currently doing All About Reading at home and have seen great improvements. Good luck!

Abbey

The good news, as an adult with dyslexia, is that you never stop improving. I spell better now than a decade ago. And by college when I no longer had mandatory foreign language courses I was a great student. Orrin-Gillingham or Lindamood-Bell are great. More of the same tutoring isn’t (I mean repeating how it’s taught in class one on one). If you haven’t it may be worth during a full private neuropsych evaluation because dyslexia can be used casually to include dysgraphia, dyscalculia, processing speed issues, and working memory issues. So a full neuropsych can help target the specific areas Ike needs support in. You may also want to look as special schools because it’s less exhausting for the kid if support is built into the school day. And if where you are is like where I am if you turn out to need it a year from now you need to have already planned for it 6 months before you knew you wanted it. I hope that wasn’t too much of a info dump of stuff you already know. I feel like I’ve gotten such great insight on how to help my kid on here it’s hard not to want to try and give back. All at once. In a giant pile.

Traci

My daughter struggled with reading and when she was about 7 told me the words moved around on the page. Her optometrist suggested Irlen testing and sure enough, that was the diagnosis. Classic Irlens- moving and disappearing letters, headaches, exhausted by reading. Her auditory learning style masked it until the print in books became smaller. She wears tinted lenses and at 15 still isn’t a huge fan of reading, but is an honor roll student and and math whiz. The lenses were life changing. Whenever I hear about kids who struggle with moving letters, I always suggest looking at Irlens. It can go hand in hand with dyslexia and can be diagnosed without dyslexia too. FWIW, etc.

Sarah Jane

Wow, I have more in common with you now! My oldest (15) was confirmed last year as autism spectrum (suspected by us for years, but we weren't in places where there was an advantage to pursue diagnosis until the last couple of years); middle (12) has anxiety/OCD, and youngest (8) has dyslexia. All are bright and are very aware that they are having a harder time than their classmates, just like your kids. Thank you so much for being able to put into words the parenting struggles. I am not a writer, but reading your thoughts has helped me to clarify mine on many occasions. Selfishly I want to say please keep it up; I hope keeping the blog has some therapeutic value of its own to you as well?

Amelia Bowler

I wish I had something super helpful to say! I even bought a giant book on the subject called "Reading in the Brain" but I opened it and found... I couldn't bring myself to read it. The words are tiny and the margins are crazy narrow. My brain just tries and fails to process it. Well played, book! Well played.

Molly

Yesssss to Orton Gillingham (former educator of dyslexic kiddos here). And look into Eye to Eye, they're a mentoring program for kids with LD/ADHD. They may not operate in your area but they also have camps and talks and videos online as he gets older and wants to see kids like him. Make sure he's got accommodations to remove the reading piece (reader for tests, extra time, textbooks on tape when he gets older, note taker, access to notes ahead of time or pre printed notes if writing is hard).

Christine

Another vote for vision therapy. Hearing that the words wiggle around on the page is a definite signal that it could help. My 12yo is dyslexic and the first thing we tried (when he was 7 and it was clear that reading was way harder for him than it should be) was vision therapy and it helped enormously - though it wasn't the magic silver bullet that fixed everything, and he's still definitely dyslexic. But the words stopped going fuzzy and blurry and that was the first stop towards improving things. We went to Crofton Family Eye Care which actually might be not un-handy for you from EC, and they are really really good there. Big recommend from us.
Now, I have to admit that the public school system did not really know what to do with him, and we ended up putting him in a private school where he is thriving. But ... don't worry about that yet. If you want to know more, though, drop me a line any time.

Christine

Oh. Now I have looked at a map, Crofton is not very near to you. (I think of everything as due north, apparently, but they're not.) But use the directory here to find someone, and check out the useful links too: https://www.covd.org/default.aspx

Sara

My daughter is Ike's birthday buddy and while we don't have a dyslexia diagnosis (...yet. We shall see.), I'm already researching and implementing based on things she tells me and observing coping mechanisms are in place. She has an OG tutor, as many have mentioned above, and we LOVE LOVE LOVE this system. Very hands-on, tactile system.

Lori

I'm a reading specialist married to a dyslexic guy who was an engineer and is now a doctor. He worked harder during medical school than any ten other students, but working hard is kind of his thing. As are audiobooks. I recommend reading The Dyslexic Advantage. There are a lot of great strengths that come with the different wiring that dyslexics have. Unfortunately, it can make school and testing a bitch. Sounds like you've got a great school and IEP team though. If you guys were still down here in the Bethesda/Rockville area I'd have offered to tutor. I'm Lindamood-Bell trained, which is an alternative to Orton Gillingham, which I've seen mentioned above. Just another systemic approach to helping kids work around their learning differences.

Amy

My middle child suffered neurological damage at birth, and has major language processing issues, including severe dyslexia and minimal short term memory. The Lindamood-Bell program worked miracles. He's a full year behind in school due to being non-verbal until age 4, and at the end of kindergarten could still barely read anything. He did an 8 week summer program before first grade and went from not even K level to reading at 2nd grade level. Super expensive, they have financing available, but worth EVERY PENNY. We did another summer there before 2nd grade to work on the short term memory. His comprehension shot up, to where by the middle of 2nd grade, he was placed in the school inclusion program rather than special ed, and made HONOR ROLL. He was so ridiculously proud of himself, and I was in tears thinking of how far he's come. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Lindamood-Bell. They do follow up classes and parent courses as well, included in your tuition.

Kelly

Orton-Gillingham is the program that works. Because of educational politics, this is often not offered first thing, but no matter what the school does, you do O-G immediately. My youngest (grown man now) is dyslexic and I seriously regret listening to the school when they said they don’t formally diagnose until 3rd grade (wayyy too late) and then threw all the reading programs at him that don’t work (in my defense, Reading Recovery worked brilliantly for his brother...who is on the spectrum). I found a program run by the Masons (Children’s Dyslexia Center if they have one near you) and got him into it way too late. Then I trained as a tutor and learned so much I wanted to smack my younger self for being so stupid as to listen to the school. I’ve recently had to give up the tutoring (travel a lot to visit opposite coast grandchildren) and I miss it because it makes such a difference. Word of warning: the program is very rigid and structured because it needs to be. Ike needs to isolate and learn the reading skills that most other people intuit naturally (or not, but that’s a story for another day). There’s plenty of flexibility in what you can do within the structure, however. For example, my “specialty” was the teen boys (because what teen boy wants to admit he has a reading problem?!?) and for one I devised a game where he shot a fly gun at the correct answer in a skills quiz. Kids properly trained with O-G understand the language at a deep level (our training covered etymology because if you can break words down into syllables and roots while understanding the meaning and origin of each, you are far ahead of most readers). With my son, I read aloud a lot. I used to prop myself in the hall between my sons’ rooms and read aloud from Harry Potter or the Animorphs series, their favorites. I read a lot in the car (thankfully there are audiobooks for that now because my throat would go raw and I’d be hoarse for days after a 24 hour car ride to Florida :-).

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