Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Live and Learn

Well, the great 'home schooling experiment' of 2011 is officially at an end. Kate went back to school full time today. She was ecstatic. So am I.

When the schools psychologist gets his evaluation done, we'll get her an IEP that will help mitigate her dyslexic problems, and hope for the best.

We'll be watchful of her attitude towards school, and be willing to re-evaluate if she starts to develop self esteem issues. But for now, she loves her teacher, the psychologist, the speech therapist, pretty much everyone over there--

Chris keeps reminding me that she'll 'figure it out' sooner or later-- eventually she'll learn to 'get around' her dyslexia.


I hope so.

Lesson learned: I can't force her to learn. I can't even help her. I can only be patient and understanding when she is struggling.

Back to life as we know it...

Friday, November 18, 2011

To school or not to school

One benefit of home schooling-- you don't have to sit at a desk!

I got this letter from Kate's psychologist yesterday: 

Hi.  I am introducing some new Ocular-Motor activities with Kate.  I will send you instructions on how to do them at home so that she can do them on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  They are usually pretty quick, so won't take too much time.
I am starting with Figure Ground, and will continue adding exercises over time.  I have ordered an eye-patch, as the research I have been reading encourages using one eye at a time until they are proficient with each eye individually.  For now, I will just have her cover an eye with her hand.
Figure Ground work is pretty simple...Where's Waldo and I Spy books work great and are fun as well.  There are also on-line seek and find games that I will be searching.  These are the fun activities.  The not-so-fun activity is that I will give her a passage of text, and have her circle all of a specific letter on the page.  I time her to see how many she can find in a minute.  I try to pick the most common letters (S, T, N, L, R, A, E, I, O) so that there are plenty to find.
Another activity is a word find puzzle.  I am going to try it, but will only use it if she finds it a challenge/fun.  I want to keep the exercises at a level where she is enjoying them, and add difficulty as she masters the tasks.
I am excited to move forward on these next activities that I have been researching.  The books that I am working out of areDeveloping Ocular Motor and Visual Perceptual Skills by Kenneth A. Lane, and Eye Power: An Updated Report of Vision Therapy by Ann M. Hoopes and Stanley A. Applebaum

Thank goodness for him, since I seem to be getting nowhere with her. I could do all these things at home, but the problem is, she won't DO them with me. With him, she'll bend over backwards. 

Her report card came home and she is /remarkably/ showing improvement. I say remarkably, because I see no improvement at home. Either in attitude or ability. She improved on her Star reading level, this is the test they give to see what 'color' books she should be reading for AR tests. Her last Star test was a 0.9, or Kindergartener in the 9th month. This test she scored a 1.6, or 1st grader in the 6th month of school. That put her into a new color- so she's pleased about that. While this seems good, it's really a bit deceptive. I watched her take this test on the computer at our SEP conference w/ her teacher. It asks her to read a sentence that is missing a word, and then choose from 4 words to complete the sentence. She is so good at using context clues and 'guessing' that even though I know she couldn't read all the words, she figured it out. She read in her head, but used the mouse to point to the word she was reading, so by following the mouse, I could tell where she was stuck and couldn't read the word. This is how the psychologist says she's 'tricking' the test. 

When she takes the Dibels (reading fluency) tests, she places in the 'well below benchmark' category, back to Kindergarten level. 

We spent almost an hour and a half w/ her teacher in our conference yesterday. Kate was wonderful the whole time, even though it was late, and she was hungry. She seems to want to please her teacher/psychologist/speech therapist so much, that she can put on the sweetest face and do whatever is asked of her willingly. 

Me? Not so much. I get the Mr. Hyde side of her. Tantrums, fits, crying, pouting, whining, complaining. It's been fascinating (read *horrifying*) to see this. When I related this to the psychologist, he actually said that 'working with Kate is the highlight of his week.' *Stunned silence*

So this is where I'm at. Second guessing my decisions. Second guessing my 'inspiration'. Second guessing my relationship with this child. 

If she can get into resource and if she's willing to go instead of staying home, I'm putting her back in full time after Christmas. 

She is the exception to every dyslexic I know of. She LOVES school. She HATES staying home. Therefore, the whole reason I kept her out (to spare her self esteem), is not the issue after all. She's throwing me curve balls faster than I can get up to the plate, and I feel like they are all hitting me square between the eyes. I'm not accomplishing anything with her at home, unless you count increasing the level of contention. 

I guess we'll see what 3rd grade brings, and take it year by year. If she ever gets to the point where she starts feeling stupid and hates school, I'll take her out. But as long as she is happy, it doesn't matter what 'level' she's on, grade level or otherwise, she'll be just fine. 

This is my self justification anyway. I hope it's mostly true...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Speech Therapy

Kate was tested and approved for an IEP for Speech this week. She cannot say her /r's/. This affects how she spells, because she replaces /r/ with /w/. I still think it's cute, but, obviously, it's contributing to her problem, so it has to be 'fixed'. She loves speech therapy, thank goodness. She has a 'speech buddy' that she goes with every week, her friend Sarah. They have stickers and rewards, it works for her, at least it does there. At home, not so much. Same exact system, two different results. Sigh.

We're still plunking away at the cooperation issue. Every day, I never know who I'm getting. Kate Jekyll or Kate Hyde. I live for Fridays (when she goes to school all day).

I made her work with clay yesterday. She cannot seem to learn the word 'were'. No matter how many times she sees it, she always says 'where'. So, she made it out of clay, and then since the definition didn't make sense to her, we just came up with a sentence and she made this bat to remind her of it.

"We WERE bats, but then we changed into Vampires!" Honestly, you'd think she'd love this stuff, but it's like pulling teeth...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Status Quo

I decided to leave Ella in afternoon Kindergarten. When it came down to it, I just couldn't give up my only free time. My time to recharge. So, we're leaving things as they are. I work with Kate and try to get Ella to entertain Zeke. It's not a fool proof system, but it's the best I've got.

My SIL Kathy was here over the weekend, and she taught Kate some energy techniques(called cortices, it uses taping, and is supposed to help connect the the right and left hemispheres of the brain) that she can do to herself when she feels frustrated or angry. I asked her to do them today and she refused-- until Ella wanted to know how to do it, and I started showing her, THEN Kate jumped in to demonstrate. Sigh.

I met with the school psychologist today. He went over the IQ test with me. I had questions about why she tested at barely behind in reading (1.8 level), when clearly, she is still on a kindergarten level. He told me that she is so bright, she 'tricked' the test. He knows she can't read that well, but she is such a good visual learner, she can take contextual clues to figure out the words she doesn't know.

According to her test, she would not qualify for resource(don't care), or an IEP(definitely need). He is working with her to see if after 6 weeks there is any improvement, if there is not, she will qualify. So far, she is 'flat-lining'. Her progress charts are flat. Very little improvement after 4 individual tutoring sessions. He continues to be astounded by how smart she is, and how she can memorize so quickly. He is constantly having to change the order of words he tests her on, because she memorizes them so fast. She's tricky, that girl.

I asked him about phonics, and he thinks that she will be able to get phonics, based on what he's done with her. Ella's kindergarten teacher has an intensive phonics program that she says has worked well with other dyslexic children. She's going to let me borrow it this week. Hallelujah. A program. Something I can follow, and not have to make up as I go along. I'm sure she'll love it for 3 days, and then not want to do it anymore, as is her M.O. I'm not sure how I'll get her to do it, other than what I do now, "If you want to cry, go to your room until you're ready to work, then you can come out." Followed by her storming away, slamming the door behind her, and wailing into her pillow. She'll emerge 10-30 min. later, red-eyed but willing to give it another go. That is, until I introduce something ELSE she doesn't want to do, and then we repeat the tantrum... over and over again.

It's so FUN. I'm having so much FUN!

I'm actually surprised by my level of patience. I manage not to yell or get mean, but I don't give her control. I think that's what she's trying to do. Test my strength. See how much she can get away with before I snap. I snap alright, just not in front of her. In my head, it's pure pandemonium. Repressed frustration. That's good for your health right?


I had hoped that this blog would be all 'sunshine and roses' about how successful we were at overcoming dyslexia, but it turns out, it's just a place for me to vent my ever growing frustrations.
I'll try to keep the whining to a minimum.

Side note: She's loving gymnastics. Everyone told me, she has to have something that she is good at to boost her self esteem, so even though it's spendy, we put her back in. She's loving it. She always has been our little monkey.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Confused AND Frustrated

I have to keep reminding myself that I felt prompted to take Kate out of school, and that therefore, it is STILL the right thing to do, because honestly, I'm done. I want to throw in the towell. If it's a battle of wills, she wins every time. I should have guessed this about her, but I skipped right over it in my 'super Mom to save the day!' euphoria. I. Am. An. Idiot.

I told Kate's teacher that things weren't going 'so well' at home, and I might put her back in full time at the end of the term (Oct. 28th). But then how do I rationalize that whole 'inspired to pull her out' thing? Pbbbtttt. Plus, then my life just gets infinitely harder at nights when I am traditionally 'done' and so is she, yet we will still have a ton of homework to complete. I'm at a complete loss.

If it's our relationship that is the most important thing, maybe I should stop caring at all about her school work, and just make sure she feels loved at home- which btw, is much easier to do if I'm not trying to teach her to read as well!

Ella's kindy teacher has given us the option of moving her to mornings, thus giving me one on one time with Kate. Problem is, then I have Ella all afternoon when Zeke is napping and have exactly ZERO time to myself. I'm not sure it's worth it. Personal time (much needed, I might add) vs. 1-1 time with Kate? Sanity vs. Possible solution? I say possible, because let's face it, it may not make a damn bit of difference. I could be sacrificing my afternoons and STILL have this fight every day with Kate.

I can't move Ella back and forth, so once the decision is made, I'm committed.


Sunday, October 2, 2011


I met with Emily, our friend/teacher to discuss Kate's IQ test results. She helped me see that her span was between 110, and 125. So even at her lowest point, she is still above average (100). Based on this, she would not qualify for resource, so that is why the psychologist is doing his intervention, trying to prove that she does indeed have reading difficulties.

For example, Emily's IQ span is from 130 to 79, a big difference. It means her IQ is 130, but because of her disability, she can only perform at a 79 level in some areas. This difference proves the disability. Since Kate's span is not severe, it doesn't prove she has a disability. Luckily, the psychologist believes she does indeed have dyslexia, and so is going another route to help her.

Emily and I talked about methods a lot. She suggested I try one thing at a time, for 4-6 weeks, and measure the outcome. I've been doing 4-5 different methods with her, hoping that something would help, not measuring anything.  This will make it hard to determine what is actually working, and what is not.

I'm so confused.

I have so many theories and methods rolling around in my brain from all my research, that I can hardly think straight. I can't get excited about doing only one thing for 4 weeks. She'll be bored, It'll be a fight...

I went to the temple, hoping to get a clear direction to move in, knowing that only the Lord knows Kate well enough to tell me what to do.

I didn't get the answer that I wanted.

I should have known.

The answer I got is that it doesn't matter what I do, but how I do it. My relationship with Kate is more important than her learning to read fluently.


Obviously, the Lord is still trying to teach me to 'let go'.

Perhaps this is because my patience was waning this week. She spent time in her room crying 2 days out of 4. I get so frustrated with her non-compliance when I'm trying my hardest to help her, and save her the pain of this disability. Even as I write that though, I know I can't save her from it. It's her trial to pass through, and try as I might, I can't keep it from hurting her 100% of the time. I can lessen it's impact on her, and her self-esteem, but she is still going to have to learn to live with it.

She's dyslexic. I can't change that. No method can. She'll just have to figure out how to cope, and my job is just to give her a safe place to rest from that stress. I need to figure out how to do that.

Do you think there is a 'Mom's of dyslexics' support group I could join?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eye Exam-- check!

I took Kate to the Ophthalmologist yesterday. She has perfect vision now, which means she'll end up a bit near sighted by the time she's a teen he said. Other than that, nothing out of the ordinary.

I asked him about Irlen Syndrome (the color screens) and also Vision Therapy. In not so many words he told me it was 'bunk'. I guess I didn't expect much more from the 'establishment'. I'm not so sure he even believes dyslexia is a real condition...

But whatever, to each his own. Purple screens make the letters stop moving for her, whether it can be proven scientifically or not, whether it's on his boards or no. We'll continue doing whatever works for Kate, establishment approved or way out in left field.

Kate also had her first day working with the psychologist. I didn't go, but she said it was 'fun', and she gets prizes, so she's happy to go. For now. Who knows what she'll be like next week. On Friday, she gets tested by the speech pathologist. She's going to be very busy with all these interventions!

Home schooling is going well. We get done faster and faster each day, she seems to have accepted it. She does still balk at anything new I try to introduce, but then I remind her about the sticker policy (no smile, no sticker) and she's over it.

I'm still trying to get used to the time commitment that it is. My mornings are gone, and I miss those productive hours. Oh well. Parenting has always been inconvenient, no?

Friday, September 23, 2011


Kate had another assessment with the schools psychologist today. The part where he determines her educational 'level'. No surprise, she is behind in reading, spelling, and reading comprehension. Also not a surprise to me, she has above average writing skills (not counting the spelling) and showed the same amount of hard work, and determination as last time. Her auditory comprehension is 100%.

Her IQ came in at 120. He told me this is in the 91%. So the problem is not her intelligence.

His full report will be done in a few days, and then I'll post more specifics, but basically, it proves that she does have a learning disability, because she's so smart, and yet so behind.

He's going to start working with her twice a week on some reading techniques he uses. If there is no improvement in 8-10 weeks, then we can conclude that she cannot learn the 'normal' way, and alternatives will have to be sought out. Again, on our own, since the school system has no experts in dyslexia. This will also count as another 'intervention'.

He told me he sees a lot of strengths in her that are seen in famous dyslexics, he was particularly impressed with her writing/creativity. Now I just have to figure out how to take this information and use it to find a good way to teach her to read.

She also needs the speech therapy, as it is affecting her spelling. She spells exactly as she speaks. Wylly for Really, and shis for this. He's going to make sure she gets that therapy going soon.

At home, we've started the spell-sweep method from the Gift of Dyslexia book. You say every letter in the word and then you say the word. If she does not know the word, I tell her it after she has spelled it out, and then she repeats it. ei: M-E-T-H-O-D, method. She is not to sound it out. She hates it, but I'm making her do it. We have to get her eyes tracking correctly, taking in the data in the correct order.

I also contacted an Optometrist in SLC that does Vision Therapy. Her eyes skip or jump as she tracks side to side. It's quite apparent when she is reading, and forces her to lose her place constantly. I think the VT would benefit her, but it's $280 for the initial exam/findings report, and then $120/session, with 12-16 sessions being average. That will be hard for us, so we're putting it off for a bit to see if all this other stuff will show some improvement.

She asked to go to school all day yesterday, but when I said no, she dropped it immediately. That's a relief, as that fight was getting old fast.

So... it's onward, ever onward. Press forward. The journey has just begun, and may go on indefinitely. It's nice to know she's so smart though, if only to my maternal pride, and even though I know she didn't get it from me.

*side note: When Chris was in 4th grade, they had him tested, because he was doing so poorly. He scored somewhere around 140 (from family reports, I don't have the actual results). The psychologist told his parents "Not to worry about him. He's a genius. He'll just need a good secretary." They took that information and nothing else was ever done, except he got yelled at every time he brought home a report card. I'm sure they thought that because he was so bright, he just wasn't trying hard enough. I wonder how Chris' education would have gone, had someone diagnosed him with dyslexia and got him the help he needed? How many children are repeating that same course even as I write this? *

Monday, September 19, 2011


I took Kate in at 9am to meet with the schools psychologist today. He gave her a series of tests that lasted about 1.5 hrs. Mostly IQ stuff from what I could gather, arranging blocks into different patterns, finding 2 things the same out of 6, coding, pattern recognition, repeating long number sequences/memory work, finding the missing item in pictures.

I think it was fun for her for the most part.

The Psychologist told me after she left, that he was certain she is 'sharp' and 'quiet bright' and had an 'amazing memory' and 'excellent auditory skills'. She was especially good at coding. He was also impressed with her determination. She wouldn't give up for a long time if she didn't know the answer, she just kept trying to figure it out. He said that was unusual, and a good sign. He was anxious to score her test.

He also did one little eye exercise with her, having her watch his pen while he moved it back and forth, up and down. He noticed that her eyes skip in one area, whereas they should track fluidly from side to side. Apparently this is common among dyslexics, and comes from weak eye muscles, and/or a weak neuro-pathway in the brain. (Because they use different neuro-pathways?)

Like I mentioned before, his son is dyslexic, and they had him go through Vision Therapy for this tracking problem, and said it worked wonders. Problem is, insurance doesn't cover it. So I'm currently researching the costs of the 2 optometrists in the Valley who offer this unique treatment.

Friday she goes back for her academic testing, which is where they'll measure where she's at grade-wise. He'll then discuss the services that he thinks she should get, but as far as I understand it, she won't qualify for resource until she's gone through the intervention process, and we don't want her to go to resource anyway. I'm hoping he'll just teach me what I need to do at home with her.

She went to class all day today. She just got home. She doesn't want to do our work now. Go figure. I'm off to make her do it, if only to make her realize that going to school all day will be very difficult for her. Phhhhbbbt.

It's Official

We are now officially home-schoolers. Part time at least. Now if only I can get Kate to accept that fact, we'll be set.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Back to school?

Friday dawned bright and early, and I went to wake Kate up for school, fully expecting her to have changed her mind and not want to get out of bed. Not so. She very cheerily got up and started getting ready.


When it was time for her to come home, I steeled myself for the tantrum she would surely throw when I insisted we do 'our' work. Not so. Again, she cheerily sat down and went right to work. We were done in record time.

Hmph. Hmph.

This girl is definitely going to defy all my expectations and keep me guessing.

Monday morning she has her test with the school psychologist. I wonder if she'll want to stay after she's done. I wonder if I'll let her.

Part of me wants to throw up my hands and say, "FINE! Go back to school! See if I care!"

The other part knows that she needs to stay home.

Hmph. Hmph. Hmph.

One week down, 30 more to go....

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I picked up some plastic colored sheet dividers today. We tried yellow, green, blue, orange and violet. She can't see violet apparently, because when that sheet went over her page, she said the words stopped moving around.


So we are now reading with a violet filter. I might see if I can get her a little pair of violet colored reading glasses, but I can see her wanting them, and then never wearing them for this, that or the other reason.

Chris picked the yellow filter. Even though he doesn't see words move, he liked the yellow and said it made reading smoother. And then an hour later he changed his mind. I think I know where Kate gets her 'fickle-ness' from now...

Good Day... or maybe not...

So I thought today was a good day. I made Kate a chart, told her that she could do her work in any order, at any time, with as many breaks as she wanted, but that she needed to do them all without whining or complaining to get a sticker when she was done. When she earns 10 stickers, she gets a trip to the DI for a  new toy- which I guarantee will be a new stuffed animal, the girl is seriously obsessed, her menagerie has grown to like 50 said animals. Her bed is a virtual stuffed zoo. They drive me crazy!

But I digress. We took it easy. I didn't have any pre-conceived notions of how long it would take her to get through her stuff, I just chilled. When she wanted to take a break and color, I did laundry, did homework with Ella, played with Zeke. It was low key and I thought, went very well. She finished just in time to eat lunch and walk to school.

She even said that she didn't want to go to school at all. She'd rather just do math at home too! I told her she was a Fickle Pickle. She thought that was funny.

Fast forward to tonight. "I want to go to school all day tomorrow!"

Huh? Why?

"I just do."


"I don't want to walk to school with the little kids, I want to walk with my friends."

OK, but you realize that you will still have to come home after school and do all your work, and that will probably mean no play time with your friends?


And you'll do it without whining or complaining, even though you'll be tired and want to play?

"Well, I didn't know we had to do so much!" (seriously, it would take us like 45-60 min. max if she did it all in one sitting)

OK. But now that you DO know, you still think you're going to want to go to school all day, and then come home and do all our work too?


OK. We'll try it, but if you come home and whine, that will be the last day you go to school all day.

Too harsh? I kept my cool. I talked calmly and quietly- even though inside I was screaming my head off. Reasoning doesn't seem to work with her. Surely she understands that now she'll just have twice as much to do?!

I probably shouldn't even worry about it. Tomorrow she'll get up, and decide she doesn't want to go after all, and we'll repeat this day- much like Groundhog Day- for the rest of the year. I'm not sure I can handle that though. I know we made the right decision to take her out. But this fight is going to get old fast.

I need to just say, "OK, you can go to school." $10 says she won't want to in the morning.

She's only 7... just breathe...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 3

Bunny with legs AND bunny without.
A smile of ANOTHER color.
Today didn't go so well. She didn't want to go to school this morning (as I figured) but the day was still doomed.

Kate is already bored with the clay, so it took some doing to get her to start on the word list. She's supposed to make the 'trigger words'- 206 of them in all, in clay, along with a 3D sculpture of something to help her remember it. After reading through the list several times, she finally agreed to do 2 words, 'another' and 'and'. Here's what she made.

Then I had the brilliant idea to put on a movie for Ella while I read with Kate. Not such a brilliant idea, as Kate would rather watch TV than read, DUH! So, she was un-cooperative, and despite me keeping my cool and trying to reason with her, she ended up in her room in tears, until she was 'ready to go to work'. Note to self, NO TV before school! Ella and Zeke will just have to be banished to the play room for an hour every morning.

Chris's words keep echoing in my head, "Just make it fun. HAVE fun."

I'm not having fun. I don't know how to make this fun. She hates to read. Period.

She came out 10 minutes later and told me she wanted to go back to school.


I told her to talk to her father about it when he came home. I can't even get into that discussion with her, I'll lose it. I know she'll probably change her mind tomorrow, she probably just said it because she was upset, blah blah blah. All I heard was, "You suck at this Mom. I don't want to do it with you!"

But, I rallied. I thought maybe a list of things she could check off would motivate her, so I made out the list of things we needed to do.

1. Read to me
2. I read to you.
3. Finish math work from school.
4. Write in your journal.
5. Clay words
6. Spelling words.

That seemed to do the trick, as I let her choose what order to complete her tasks in, and she got to check it off the list when we were done. Seriously, it takes us maybe an hour to do all these things. It should be EASY!

Think positive... faith not fear... tomorrow will be better... perseverance.... AAAGGGHHH!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 2

'School' went ok today. We did more of the same. Clay, reading, spelling words out of textured magnetic letters. Again, she didn't want to go back in time for computers, she opted to wait and go w/ Ella. Makes my life a little easier, not having to walk Ella to school. She says even though she's only there for 3 hours, it still feels like all day. LOL.

I'm not sure it's helping though. I know, I know, it's only day 2, but I'm gripped with a fear that a year from now, we'll be no better off. Chris says, at least she'll be no worse off, and then related a story that happened today. A kid in his class read out loud today, missed every fourth word. During a conversation in the hall w/ Chris, he told him he was dyslexic. He's in high school and can't read. He's been in special ed the whole time. That's what staying in the system has done for him.

I came across a blog yesterday, the same one I cut and pasted in yesterday's post. Anyway, she had a link to rocket phonics, a program that was designed with dyslexics in mind, supposedly a very kinesthetic approach, promises to increase reading level to 4th or 5th grade in just 2 years. And it's pretty cheap, $160. Cheaper if I get it used.

The controller/scheduler in me says, 'YES!' a program! Something I can follow and not have to worry about coming up with crap on my own! But then I remember, dyslexics suck at phonics, so maybe this isn't the way to go? ARGH! Will someone please just tell me what to do? I'm a product of the system! I need directions! I need to have someone think for me!

*sigh* I just want to see the end from the beginning... is it too much to ask?

Obviously, I'm not as confident as previous posts may have implied. I guess today is just a fear day. Tomorrow I'll aim for a faith day.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day One

Today, we started off to the craft store for some sculpting clay. I got some for Ella too, since I figured I might as well do the same things with her. It certainly can't hurt her, and will keep her from being bored while I work w/ Kate.

Here's a summary of what we did from another home schooler's blog:

We began with the alphabet.  Yes, regardless of the age of the student/person, Mr. Davis recommends to start from the beginning.  I made some play dough and printed off the alphabet strips given in the book.  With a little encouragement, both of my children agreed to try the exercise.  They began building our 26 letters in their capital form.
Mr. Davis explains that most people with dyslexia do not know the alphabet.  They know the song, and the song knows the alphabet.  So, they sing the song anytime they have to look up a name in the phone book.
Some lower case letters in reverse order.
Some lower case letters in reverse order.
Building the letters out of play dough helps them remember the shape of the letter, the correct direction of the letter, etc.  The alphabet becomes their alphabet because they made it with their own hands.  Once they can create the letters correctly from a mound of clay.  We work on reciting the letters in order.  Without any hint of the alphabet song, they say the letters from A-Z and then from Z-A.  He wants them to know the alphabet backwards and forwards.
Next, you randomly call out a letter.  They have to tell you which letters are immediately before and after the letter.  For example, the letter I give you is B.  So, the answer is A and C.  It is not as easy as it sounds.  Being part of this process, I can honestly say that I have never known our alphabet so well.
You build both the capital and lowercase letters.  While looking at the letters you can discuss which letters are the most alike.  There are several letters that are almost the exact opposite of another.  For example, b’s and d’s can be confusing.  Talking about them, touching them, and building them seems to help in letter recognition.
The whole point of the exercise is to create mental pictures of each letter.  When you have to recall the letter, you can see in your head the letter you created as well as its position in the alphabet. 

She was pretty good at this task, it didn't seem to trip her up at all. She has a harder time with her lower case letters though, so tomorrow might be a bit harder for her.

The girls picked out clay that came in 4 different colors, and Kate made all her vowels red, because she likes red. Emily said color coding the vowels would help her remember them, and to do it on all her spelling words as well.

After clay time, we read. I picked out some Kindergarten-1st grade level books that she knew 90% of the words already, and she read 3 books to me. Happily! That in and of itself is reason to cheer. Reading with her has always been a fight.

After she finished reading -- about 15 min., I read to her from a 2nd grade level book, to keep her listening comprehension on the level it should be at. She choose Magic Treehouse, and I used a bookmark, and told her to follow along with her eyes. At first she balked, preferring just to listen, but she did it. I hope this will help her with her tracking. We discussed what we'd read after, to make sure she comprehended everything. She has very good auditory comprehension, so that's not something we'll have to work on at least.

I was going to do balance board exercises with her, but time was short and Ella still needed her reading lesson, so Kate was in charge of babysitting Zeke while I worked with Ella.

Then we all walked to school. Tomorrow, the two of them will just go up together, and I won't have to drive/walk Ella anymore. That-- is a definite bonus for me.

Pretty good day. Only one incident of her being uncooperative, but it was quickly handled with, "You can go to your room, until you're ready to work." After that, she was pleasant as punch!

We had fun today. All of us. It was a good start.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Decision

So we went back and forth. Back and forth. Should we pull her out? Could I handle it? Should we leave her in and send her to Resource? Could SHE handle that? In first grade, when you get pulled into the hall to read with a Mom, or even the reading specialist, the other kids are just jealous. By the time you hit second grade, they know it's because you're 'dumb'.

In talking with friends about Kate, I have come to discover that several of my friends have dyslexia. They all told me their stories. It was heart breaking. To see a 40+ year old woman get visibly upset when recounting her school experiences, well, it made me think long and hard about subjecting Kate to that. I always thought Chris' school experience was just an exception, but come to find out, it's every dyslexics nightmare. The common thread running through all these people's stories was extreme trauma, and low self esteem. Even though they knew differently now, you could tell they still had lingering doubts about their intelligence. And they all HATED school. Every minute of it for 12 long years.

I don't know for sure that Kate will have that same experience. I can't see the future, but man! Just the thought of her ending up like these people made me cry. I can't do it to her. I just can't. She already feels bad about herself because of the damn pink and yellow dots! What is she going to feel when she has to go to resource every day, and sees her papers and tests all marked up with red?

I don't know what is best for every dyslexic child, but I have to believe that I know what is best for mine. We've prayed about it, gone to the temple, talked to people, read and researched-- all to do my part to 'study it out in my mind'-- and the answer is clear. Take her out of school.

We've decided to home school her half day. She comes home from school fried from the effort it takes her to concentrate on reading, thus, she has absolutely ZERO tolerance for homework. In one short week, I could tell, I was going to have to keep her home if I wanted to do anything with her. 

She seems pretty excited about it. We let her make the decision after explaining how much she'd need to do after school with Mom. She agreed it would be too much for her to stay in school. 

She'll miss all of language arts, and go back for Math and the other things they throw in at the end of the day. We'll have to get some accommodations built into her IEP about making those classes dyslexic-friendly, but I don't think it will be a big deal. Keeping her out of language arts will eliminate confusion for her as the school's way will be so different from what we are doing at home. 

Her teacher has been super supportive, and very willing to do anything she could to help. BUT, the poor woman is in her 70's, and has 29 students. It's not fair to expect her to figure out a new way just for Kate. I know that legally, I can demand it, but what will be the cost? She may resent Kate, she'll have less time for the other struggling readers, and she might not ever figure out the right thing for Kate anyway. I think she is secretly relieved that I am willing to shoulder the burden. Or maybe she thinks I'm going to ruin Kate. Who knows? At least she's been nice. 

The perfect solution would be to hire a professional, trained and certified to teach dyslexics, but at $40-50/hr. that's just not going to happen. It's me, or her public school teacher. Those are the options. 

I have very low expectations, the key to low stress-- right? I'm not trying to get her up to grade level this year. I just want to figure out the best way for her to learn. Once we can figure that out, catching up should be easy. I know she's smart. I don't know what I'm doing, but I believe the Lord does. He knows what's best for her. I just have to be willing to step into the dark...

Oh, and she's still going through the official testing process with the schools psychologist. That will tell me where her strengths lie. He and I have been communicating via email, and he's been very helpful. He has a dyslexic child as well, and is going to tell me about the Vision Therapy that worked wonders for them. I can't wait. The more information I have, the better chance we have of finding the right thing for Kate. 

So tomorrow we start on our journey. I hope it won't take long to find the right path-- Kate's path. 

Good Reading

This book is amazing. Simply fascinating. AND, it's written for dyslexics, with large, easy font. It takes a couple of hours to read it, if you skip the end where he goes through his methods.

It describes the way dyslexics think, and while I could not totally understand the unique way their brains process information, it was enlightening nonetheless.  I guess it would be like trying to explain sight to someone who was born blind in a community of blind people who had no language for 'seeing'. If you know anyone who has dyslexia, I recommend you read this book.

The Author, Ron Davis, was thought to be retarded, until he figured out ways to cope with the way his brain processed information. Turns out he's a genius who could not only do complex algebraic equations in his head, but who is also a gifted sculptor.

While the other books I have read talk about how dyslexics read with the 'wrong' part of their brains, and how they need to be drilled into doing the 'right' way, this book explains why different is GOOD, and how to get around the reading problem, without forcing them to alter their brain pathways.

According to some of the scientists theories, dyslexics have underdevelopment phonologic modules. They  don't process the smallest parts of language in the 'normal' part of their brains. Phonemes are lost on them. These same scientists profess that if you can just force them to learn phonics, they will eventually rewire the neural pathways they need and learn to read.

It doesn't feel right to me.

They are gifted because of their ability to think differently. Why would I want to shove her square brain into their round hole? Why are squares always bad? If I forced her brain to 'do it the right way', what toll would that take on her other abilities? Maybe it wouldn't affect anything else-- I'm just guessing here, but as I was reading these other books, I was totally put off by them. I hope that was the Spirit telling me to take another path.

It sure would be easier to do it their way, I'd have curriculums galore, and several methods to choose from. The United States teaches phonics. If you struggle with phonemes, you're not going to get phonics. Not to mention that phonics only works 50% of the time, for everything else, you just have to memorize the exception to the rule.

My SIL from NZ was telling me how her Mum (a lifelong elementary teacher) was ranting about how stupid it is to teach phonics when it is so ineffective. They don't do it that way in NZ. They use a multi-sensory approach, and only use phonics a little. As she was explaining to me the method they use, it sounded exactly like what I've read about for dyslexics. I need to go to NZ and sit in on their 1st grade classes, or Kindy rather, as their 7 yos are already fluent readers.

Maybe I can Skype Melissa, and she can teach Kate their way! LOL. Oh that would be easy right?

"Here Kate, sit down here. Watch Melissa. Have fun!"


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Journaling it all

Dear Diary,

Today is the day I found out my daughter has dyslexia. I cried. She cried. I'm scared. I think she is too. We need help. Lots of it. I hope we are strong enough to handle this challenge. I hope.


I feel a need to document this journey. I don't know if you'd call it inspiration, but I think I need to have an outlet for the frustration I'm sure to encounter as we make our way into the unknown. As I discussed my insecurities, my fears, and my general lack of knowledge in this area to Chris the other night, he suggested that perhaps, there is something I needed to learn- as well as Kate. Maybe her challenges are going to be a way for me to learn and grow as well. Great. That's never good news. It suggests there is 'room for improvement'? Well of course there is. We could all stand to learn and grow. But it's never easy to have it forced upon you, is it?

Chris feels that we should just 'go with the flow' and feel our way through this, not trying to force anything. I want a plan. I want a curriculum. I want a schedule to follow. Is anyone surprised by this? Of course the control freak wants to know the end from the beginning. It's not possible though. No two dyslexics are alike. No one can give me the perfect curriculum, or method to suit my Kate. Every book I've read has a different theory, not only about why/how dyslexia occurs, but also about how they should be taught.

We will have to figure this out as we go along. We will need divine guidance, and intervention, for sure. We are praying for that, and I am praying for the ability to 'let it go'. I have this little poem taped above my computer:

Can You Let Go?

To Let Go is not to stop caring,
It's recognizing I can't do it for someone else.
To Let Go is not to cut myself off,
It's realizing I can't control another.
To Let Go is not to enable,
But to allow learning from natural consequences.
To Let Go is not to fight powerlessness,
But to accept that the outcome is not in my hands.
To Let Go is not to try to change or blame others,
It's to make the most of myself.
To Let Go is not to care for, it's to care about.
To Let Go is not to fix, it's to be supportive.
To Let Go is not to judge,
It's to allow another to be a human being.
To Let Go is not to try to arrange outcomes,
But to allow others to affect their own destinies.
To Let Go is not to be protective,
It's to permit another to face his own reality.
To Let Fo is not to regulate anyone,
But to strive to become what I dream I can be.
To LetGo is not to fear less,
It's to love more!


If I can let go long enough to allow the Spirit to guide me, to let Kate show me her way, and to let go of what others may think of our choices... then, I believe we'll find success. Or not, either way, I can't force it. I can't make her learn. My force of will is not the determining factor here. That's hard to accept.  But accept it I must.

So anyways, back to the original thought, the purpose of this blog-- to record our journey. For my own sanity? Maybe. Or maybe it will be a way to evaluate what we're doing. Writing about things always forces me to really understand what is going on. It helps it to 'gel' in my mind. It may also be helpful to others walking the same path, or to me, later, if Ella or Zeke ends up with this Gift as well. I'm not going to try to be funny, or witty, I'm just going to record what we do day to day- what seems to be working, what is not. It may be of interest to Kate later in life. Or not. 

Ahhh, I'm starting to tense up again....

Breathe.... just breathe. 


My friend Emily, is a 3rd grade teacher, has also taught 1st grade, and been the reading specialist at her school. She did her Masters Thesis on teaching methods for dyslexic and learning disabled kids, and she also has dyslexia. She read with Kate on Saturday, and feels certain that she has dyslexia. She asked her if she sees letters moving around on the page, or coming up off the page, and I was shocked to hear Kate say 'yes'. She described seeing letters move like on Electric Company, when Annie Scrambler messes up words. I had never thought to ask her this, because I didn't know that can happen in a dyslexics brain.

Emily said that dyslexics see words in 3D, looking at them from the side, from behind and from below, not just straight on. This is why their letters flip sometimes. This is also the reason why dyslexics are so spatially oriented and why they are so creative. Fascinating, isn't it?

Emily has a pair of violet reading glasses, because her brain does not see that color, and since black is a combination of all colors, the missing violet can make the letters appear to move. We need to figure out if Kate has a color problem as well, and get her a filter to read through.

She also has a speech impediment, if you remember her "wylly wylly", she can't say her 'r's. This affects how she hears and processes the sounds, and makes phonics difficult for her, especially blended sounds. So we are having the speech therapist listen to her, and she will probably have some therapy for that soon. *Sigh* I really think the way she talks is cute, and I'll be sad to 'hear' that go... but, if that is one of the things that will help her read, we have to take care of it.

Emily gave me some methods to use to help Kate. She wants me to teach her sign language. She does this in her class, because a multi-sensory approach helps so many kids, especially dyslexics. I'll also have Kate make her letters out of play-doh, draw them on my hand, or in salt, and she'll have pictures and colors associated with every sound and letter. All this will hopefully help her to learn the sounds.

She's giving me a set of textured, colored sound tiles that Kate can manipulate. In my research, I've learned that Kinesthetic approaches are especially good for dyslexics. Kate will also draw pictures to go with her sight word flash cards, and use a bookmark when reading, because she 'scoops' letters from the next line down and inserts them into her words.

Emily will check up on us once a week, and readjust our approach as we see what works and what doesn't. She also said to have her tested by the school psychologist, because that will tell us what her strengths are, as well as her disabilities, and will help us build a method specific to her gifts.

We talked to Kate about this, told her what dyslexia was, and more importantly, what it wasn't-- It does not mean that she is dumb. In fact, most dyslexics have higher than average IQ's, and have remarkable gifts. We told her she'd have to do a few more tests, and that we'd be doing her homework differently from now on. She seems ok with it all, and the promise of a treat, after any kind of testing she had to go through, hit the mark.

I hope she'll be ok. I hope her self esteem won't suffer because of this. My biggest fear is that she'll wind up thinking she's 'just not smart'.

I had an interesting conversation with Chris' mother last night. I told her about Kate, and was surprised by her reaction. She shook her head and said, "She gets that from me. I had a very hard time learning to read. I just wasn't smart." I argued that she was in fact very smart, very creative, had a head for quilting and piecing and sewing like few others, and while she agreed, she still had a very dejected attitude about her intelligence. She even listed all the 'brown-eyed grandchildren' who'd inherited it from her and had struggled in school. (One is a very intelligent chemical engineering student, one a gifted artist, and one a talented machinist, btw. They did struggle in school, but they also have gifts and talents that help them to excel in their fields.)

It made me so sad, here she is, 79 yo, and still has the feeling that she is 'not smart'. It makes me sad, mad, and determined. Determined to make sure Kate does not grow up with this attitude.

Emily warned me it is going to be a long hard road, and that it would not ever 'go away'. We'll have to deal with it for her entire life. I don't feel weighed down though, I feel optimistic. I think I can help her, I will certainly die trying anyways. I've already gotten 4 books on dyslexia that I will be studying for the next little while. Understanding is the key right?

Her teacher has also been very supportive, and so we'll keep her in school for as long as that continues to work for her. I'm not ruling out home-schooling her for at least part of the day though, if that will make it easier on her. Going to school all day, only to come home to 2 hours of homework with Mom will not make her happy I'm sure. None of my kids would go for that. I wouldn't.

So we'll just take it one day at a time. Learn to learn Kate's way by trial and error. At least she has Chris to identify with. She knows he has it too, knows he's a good reader now, and I think she knows that it's not the end of the world. It's a challenge for her to rise above. I know she'll do it.

Wish us luck.


Kate is behind in her reading. Really behind. She tests at 0.9 level, which is basically a Kindergarten level. She reads 20-40 wpm. The average for a second grader is 90wpm.  Her teacher last year had her do pull out reading, and by the end of the year, she had met her 85% goal, so I figured, she was 'caught up'. I read with her almost every day all summer long. I thought that would keep her where she was at.

Well, apparently, she wasn't 'caught up' last year, because she is WAAAAY behind. Almost 2 full grade levels behind.

Reading with her over the summer, I started to notice that she was switching letters, like b and d. Or words, like reading saw, instead of was. I wondered if she had a touch of dyslexia. After sitting through her 2nd grade assessment with her teacher, it was painfully obvious that she is way behind. I discussed the possibility of dyslexia with her teacher. She was super helpful, but told me that she would have to do a series of 'interventions' before they would test her, this could take months, even the whole year. And then, the test would be for general learning disabilities, not specifically for dyslexia. I left practically in tears, and very discouraged for my child.

The second day of school, she came home and through tears said, "I wish I could read better. I can only read pink and yellow dots!" (Kindergarten level books) Needless to say, I was heart-broken for her. And indeed, at back to school night, I noticed on Kate's desk her 'book', basically a pamphlet of a few pages stapled together, while almost every other desk had chapter books on top.

I came home from her assessment and started researching dyslexia. What an eye opener! Kate has about 50% of the signs, and I learned that most public schools are not equipped to handle the special type of learning that these children need. I left the website up and went to bed, thinking, I'm going to have to have her privately tested ($400-500) AND then I'm going to have to pull her out of language arts every day and homeschool her with a special program ($2-3K). My head was spinning.

In the morning, Chris told me that he had read the entire site after I went to bed and said he had 100% of the signs, and was positive he has dyslexia. He's always known that he has ADD, but the dyslexia revelation was new to him. Interestingly, dyslexics have a very high occurrence of ADD.  I'm not sure Kate has ADD, but my Mom thinks she does, so maybe I'm just too close to it.

Anyway, Dyslexia is genetic, and we think my Dad has it, so she got a double dose in the gene pool. Oh! My heart aches for her! Knowing the years of struggling that Chris went through and the nightmare experiences he had in school, I am sick. However, if she does have it, it's not too late to intervene. Hopefully she won't have to be nearly 30 yo before she is a fluent reader, like her father was. He used to hate reading, now we can't make him stop, still, I don't want her to have to find her own way like Chris did.

So, what to do? I emailed an old friend who has severe dyslexia, did her Masters research in it, and became a school teacher. JACKPOT! She said she will come read with her THIS weekend, and then will LOAN us the system that will work best for her, since she owns most of them!  I am so grateful to have remembered this friend, that I don't stay in touch with, and that she is so willing to help Kate. I'm sure she feels it is her personal mission in life to help dyslexic children, but whatever her motivation is, GOD BLESS HER!

I also have a meeting w/ the Resource specialist tomorrow, but I already have a feeling that that will get me nowhere.

And just a FYI, I learned that dyslexics are not 'slow'. The condition is diagnosed by the talents as well. Dyslexics are usually very bright, spatially oriented, gifted in music, art, athletics, sciences. Just check out the list on the left. Some people equate dyslexia with the capacity for genius.