- Posted June 19, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Raising a special needs child
Eleanor and Dyslexia
My name is Amber and Eleanor is my daughter. Eleanor was identified with a specific learning disability in kindergarten. She was held back a year before that to “catch up.” Well, Eleanor has never caught up. Even though Eleanor was identified early with her disability and was receiving pullout services for reading with no progression. Every year I would ask the teacher what was going on with my child. How could my super smart kiddo not read? I had many conversations with the principal and even she was perplexed by Eleanor’s struggle to read. We all knew something was not connecting in her brain where reading was concerned.
Eleanor struggled to read the sentence “The dog ran home.” When she got to the word “the” again in the next sentence she couldn’t even recognize it.
I spent a great many hours with my daughter telling her to try harder. Feeling like she was being lazy and didn’t care. Eleanor watched yearly as her brother and sister received reading awards for completing all their required reading for the year. Eleanor would try every year to achieve just one award. She is my hardest working child. I have spent many hours with her building her confidence and telling her how she may not be able to read and earn these awards but that she could ride a motorcycle and shift it like a pro. She could go out to the garage and get all the dirt bikes running for everyone to ride. My daughter is an amazing human being full of love and compassion. Eleanor is the biggest helper around the house and within our huge family. Eleanor is reliable and very strong willed. When she puts her mind to it Eleanor is capable of anything. Anything that is, except reading. No matter how much effort she puts forth learning to read, she just cannot with today’s conventions offered in our School District.
Fifth grade rolled around and I just could not go another year without an understanding of my daughter’s learning disability. My mother and I decided to look into dyslexia. I had never thought of it before because as far as I knew it was a vision problem. After doing some research I decided that my daughter needed to be tested for dyslexia.
I had to drive three hours to the city because my town has absolutely no one to screen or test kids for dyslexia. After Eleanor’s testing I sat down to hear the results. Indeed my Eleanor was severely dyslexic. That day changed my life and hers. I was really excited to tell my kiddo that she wasn’t stupid like she thought she was. She was Dyslexic and her brain just processed things differently. Eleanor face lit up with a smile that could have lightened up the darkest night. “IT” had a name. Its name was Dyslexia.
Now I was ready to head back to the school with this information and we were going to be able to get the right program to help Eleanor read.
I returned to the school with test in hand excited to share the answer to Eleanor’s disability and how we could help her. Our victory was short lived. I had the diagnosis but Eleanor’s school didn’t have the correct intervention to teach her and no one nearby to tutor her. Dyslexic children have to be taught with a multisensory program using the Orton-Gillingham approach. This type of approach has to be taught by someone certified or trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach or a reading program based off of the OG approach. It is explicit, systematic, sequential, multisensory, and cumulative. Eleanor was out of luck. The closest city was 3 hours away with proper interventions.
I took it upon myself to tutor my daughter for the rest of the year. For 6 months I tutored her 5 days a week 30 to 40 minutes a day using the Orton-Gillingham based Barton system. When Eleanor started her Orton-Gillingham tutoring her reading level was 1.3 Grade Equivalent. She was a 5th grade student identified in kindergarten, held back to catch up, and placed in Special Education ever since, with a first graders reading level. Eleanor grew 1.3 years’ in reading inside of six months. Eleanor went from a 1.3 GE to a 2.6 GE in reading. This was the most progress ever seen in her educational career. Even the school psychologist noted it in his testing results. I could no longer afford the lessons and had her back in school for 6th grade.
Eleanor has now been back in a full day of school with an hour of English Special Education class for 3 years. In the last 3 years to date Eleanor has regressed in all areas of her evaluation except three. Eleanor’s reading progress as regressed from Standard Score of 77 at the 6th percentile to a Standard Score of 71 at the 3rd percentile. This has happened to my daughter from lack of Teacher education on Dyslexia and the proper reading inventions needed.
As Eleanor’s mother I have taken on the responsibility of her education and am putting myself through school to become a certified Orton-Gillingham tutor. I have had to do this because even though Eleanor’s school recognizes her Dyslexia and Dysgraphia they have refused to train someone to become trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach or OG based program. Eleanor has not had the same opportunity at learning as her two siblings have had.
Eleanor’s confidence has plummeted this last year in school. My child was exhausted all year long from working so hard to keep up with her classes and grades. What takes her brother and sister an hour to do in school work, takes Eleanor 3 to 4 hours. It takes Eleanor up to 2 weeks to finish a math test because no one is willing to actually take the time to help her in class and she gets lost in process of testing.
Eleanor was caught early in the system. Early enough that had our district had someone trained to assess dyslexia and someone certified or trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach or OG based program to service Eleanor’s dyslexia, she would be reading near or at grade level. Eleanor is now finishing 8th grade with a 2.7 Grade Equivalent reading level. My daughter will start High School with a second graders reading level for no reason other than our School District refusing to train someone in the Orton-Gillingham approach. This really is the only reason for her regression and struggles. The year in kindergarten that Eleanor was held back for catching up never really did a thing but put her further behind.
It is vital that we educate our teachers on Dyslexia and train them in proper reading interventions for Dyslexia. There is no reason, not a one for children to struggle and suffer through school when the help and the answer is out there. The answer is scientifically studied and proven. There is no question what dyslexics need.
Dyslexia is a language processing disorder neurological in origin and has no bearing on ones IQ. Evidence-based scientific research has shown that using O-G for individuals with dyslexia will restructure their brains to help them learn to read. 80% of children identified with a specific learning disability are dyslexic. Dyslexia is lifelong it never goes away.
All I want as a parent is for my child to have a chance to learn the same as her brother and sister. My daughter does not have a learning problem. She has a reading and spelling problem.
I have had to pick up the slack for Eleanor’s school district in making sure my daughter learns to read. I have spent countless hours researching and teaching myself about dyslexia and proper remediation .I have had to put myself through school just to be able to teach my child how to read. I had to take an advocacy course to understand the law to be able to help my child with a proper IEP. The schools do not help parents help their children. We are treated like a thorn in the schools side. We have to fight tooth and nail for services, accommodations and modifications that our children are entitled to for a level playing field. We are not asking for the best we are asking for fair and our children’s right to an education. It is a shame that my super bright child has to feel stupid or dumb because she cannot read like her brother and sister. Eleanor lies to her teachers about her understanding of lessons taught because teachers get frustrated with her.
Eleanor’s life would be completely different if she had been identified dyslexic and taught with the O-G approach. I can only imagine what it would be like. This road is long and hard and not a day goes by that I don’t think about Eleanor’s dyslexia and how it affects her life. My child is smart beyond her years and she deserves to be taught to learn to read just like her siblings. My daughter is worth fighting for. She is worth anyone’s time and effort.