Could My Child Be Dyslexic?

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I always knew one of my children was a little different.  At age two, he could quickly complete complicated puzzles that his six-year-old brother struggled to put together.  His mind just saw the way it had to be!  He was incredibly smart and continually amazed us with his mechanical mind and ingenuity.

When I began teaching him to read, though, he struggled.  He changed b’s into d’s and 9’s into 6’s.  More telling, though, was the fact that he couldn’t remember little words.  If he was reading “Tim and Tom and Mary and Jan” he would have to sound out the word “and” every single time.  He could not remember it from one second to the next.  I had him informally tested, and he “passed.”  We were told he was not dyslexic.  That put my mind at ease for a short while, but not for long.  Signs which could not be explained any other way continued to crop up.

He skipped words or even lines while reading, as if they weren’t there.  He read words backwards.  He added letters that weren’t there or deleted ones that were.  He ignored punctuation marks.  Reading and spelling became a horrible chore.  We had him tested again by a trained psychiatrist and found out that he was, indeed, dyslexic.

At first I was stunned.  I had feared this was true.  I had known it somehow, deep down.  Yet the truth still felt like a punch in the gut.  How would this affect him?  What would this mean for his long-term future?  Could we handle this?

Although it did not feel like it at the time, receiving that diagnosis was a blessing.  We could finally begin to understand what we were dealing with and address it in ways that are making a difference.  My patience increased exponentially overnight, as I realized that he really was doing his very best, and as I began to see school through my son’s eyes.

I am grateful that I found some excellent programs for him, even before I knew for sure that he was dyslexic.  The psychiatrist was shocked that our son was less than a full grade level behind in his reading and spelling, and he attributed that to the strength of the programs we were using.

Dyslexia is not diagnosed only by a child being behind. It has to do with the discrepancy between the level he is working at when reading and writing versus the level he is able to work at when those components are removed and he is listening and speaking.  There were eight grade levels of discrepancy between those two points for our son, so although he wasn’t very far behind his grade level, he was miles away from living up to his potential academically.

It has been almost four years since he was diagnosed.  We’ve kept the good and improved on the rest, and each school year has been better and better.  Our son is thriving and is actually up to grade level now in his reading.  His spelling is coming right along, and he is achieving spelling success every week rather than constant failure.  Our family built the website My Audio School to address his core content needs through the auditory pathway.  My Audio School provides the auditory learner with access to hundreds of recorded classic books, educational old time radio theater and historic news broadcasts.  We are using Writing with Ease and Institutes for Excellence in Writing to help our son learn to communicate on paper.

If any of this rings a bell, I encourage you to check out this article from All About Spelling about Symptoms of Dyslexia and this one I wrote about Helping Dyslexics Help Themselves.  I didn’t want to face the truth, but it has truly set us free.  Now we are working with our son’s strengths and helping him learn how to accommodate for his weaknesses.

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About Molly Evert

Writer Molly Evert is a wife and homeschooling mom to 6 kids, who range in age from 2 to 18. She runs an educational website, My Audio School (http://www.myaudioschool.com), providing access to the best in children's audio literature. She also blogs at CounterCultural Mom (http://www.counterculturalmom.com) and CounterCultural School (http://www.counterculturalschool.com).

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Comments

  1. Thanks Molly! We also have a son with severe dyslexia. I look forward to checking out your site ‘My Audio School’. We have had great success as well with Barton Reading, a program of reading, spelling, writing and vocabulary specifically put together for dyslexic students. We love it!

    You are so right… when we can finally deal with the truth, we can find ways to survive and thrive and help our kids do likewise!

    Blessings!

  2. Wendy Mueller says:

    Loving seeing other moms who face the same questions. When our oldest son was three, I began to suspect that he had dyslexia. He was in his second year of preschool, and his almost non-verbal (later diagnosed Aspy) brother was able to identify more characters than his older brother. For the next six years, I pursued getting a diagnosis for him, but I was constantly pushed off, being told that this diagnosis was not able to be made until he was in 3rd grade, and that I was just being overly concerned. After just a couple of weeks in a public school, we decided to homeschool him. In the summer before he started 3rd grade, I had him tested again. I was furious to sit down with the testers only to be told that he had severe dyslexia, as well as dysgraphia, ADD, ADHD, anxiety disorders and possibly HFA. What had made me furious though was that they told me that they felt that if he had been in a public school during those four years, that this would have been caught sooner and something could have been done about it. Their only recommendation at this point was to have him spend as little time as possible with his mother (me) because his anxiety was obviously being caused by living with a chronically ill mother who did not recognize that he had any learning issues. Yes, still a little hot about that topic even two months later. 🙂

    To those who are suspecting that there might be a learning delay of any kind with your child, become a pit bull. Do not let go until you get a peace about the direction that your child is going, then pursue every avenue that you possibly can.

    The funniest thing to me was that the testers were so confused by his results. His intellectual and verbal skills showed that he ranked somewhere between 5th and 8th grade. They said that they had never tested an individual with that kind of gap between their ability to read and write, and their actual intelligence. They just could not comprehend that because I home schooled my son, and recognized his learning differences, that we had accommodated for them, teaching him in the ways that he learned best, including the Barton Reading program that Carla Anne mentioned above.

    Molly, thanks so much for sharing from the perspective of a mom who has walked this path for a longer time than I have. It is so encouraging to see that there is still hope.