Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Public Service Announcement...For Reals.

(How could I not use this song)

I have been wanting to do a post about dyslexia for a long time. It is a big part of my life and I want to tell you about it. Bear with me, this is a long post, but the information is priceless, and could be life changing for someone in your life.

First, a little HISTORY...

I studied mostly Early Childhood in college but had an emphasis in Special Ed. I spent a couple years working as a reading specialist. I also spent a couple years working with autistic children but mostly I taught pre-school. When I had Maya I only taught part time for about year and then I called it quits. I loved using my education to do pre-school co-ops for my kids. I got to put together the curriculum and it was so much fun. In fact I even considered publishing it but I got distracted and let it go.

Fast forward five years...One of my friends was telling me about her 1st grade son who was struggling with reading in school I gave her some ideas, but in the end she wanted me to tutor him. So I spent the summer tutoring him and making up curriculum as I went along. It was a success, I got him caught up and it was a great experience. After that I started tutoring other kids during the summer. Most of my students were children of my friends, or friends of friends. It was so rewarding to get these struggling kids caught up and seeing their self esteem come back. I never advertised because really it was not meant to be more then "helping" out a friend.


Well a couple of those kiddos I tutored every summer for a few years. We got to a point two summers ago that I was stumped. There was no more I could do for them. These kids were going into fourth grade and I had run out of ideas on how to teach them. Their needs had outgrown my skills. I felt terrible. I explained what was going on to the moms and didn't know where to send them. Then one day my friend Kerry, one of the moms, told me about a conversation she had with another friend about her daughter's issues. That friend sent her to a dyslexia website. She called me right away and told me to check it out. I was stunned. I knew instantly that these two kids were dyslexic. I couldn't believe that in all my years of studying and teaching I had hardly any information on this learning disability.

So I immersed myself in reading and watching whatever information I could get on dyslexia. My friend Kerry and I got some dyslexia curriculum and started teaching from it. It was amazing to watch these "otherwise bright" children who had been struggling for so long, finally get the instruction that they needed to succeed.


Because dyslexia affects 20% of our population. It is the most misunderstood learning disability. Most teachers and administrators DO NOT have this information. Why? I do not know! It is insane.

Dyslexia comes in different degrees mild to severe.

Dyslexics usually have a higher IQ then the rest of us because they have to work harder and find different strategies to survive in school.

When kids struggle with reading they get put into a reading program at school that is phonics based. This is the worst thing you could do to a dyslexic child.

The best way to describe, in a nutshell, how a dyslexic processes our language is this...When we are first taught letters we learn their shape and sound individually. For ex: when we are asked to sound out the word cat we say C-A-T. A dyslexic doesn't hear each individual sound and identify each letter. They think "CAT" is the sound. So when a poor dyslexic kid is stuck in a reading recovery program that focuses on phonics they are just more confused than ever. They need an Orton-Gillingham based curriculum that focuses on phonemic awareness and auditory discrimination.


If you are a mom, an aunt, a grandma, a teacher or a friend and you know a child with THREE or more of these warning signs....

Speech Delay - Doesn’t speak by first birthday...understands, doesn’t talk.
Difficulty learning how to speak multi syllable words - cinnamon, spaghetti, hamburger, butterfly...
Early Stuttering - Difficulty with sound recognition L and R, M and N, S, Sh and Ch.
Chronic Ear Infections

Difficulty learning how to tie shoes

Difficulty learning difference between “left” and “right” - Following directions in general are hard to difficult.
Left Handed - left handed population have higher odds of having dyslexia.
Late developing dominant hand - By the ages of 3-4 they should have established a dominant hand. Mixed dominance is also common, one hand for writing, the other hand for sports.
Difficult with alphabet memorization - Should be able to do it in 8 months...name of letter and sound.
Difficulty spelling last name - Hard time writing all three names...first, middle and last. Difficulty with memorizing address, phone number, days of the week and months of the year.
Odd Reading - Can read word on one page but doesn’t recognize it on the next page. Seems to know phonics but cannot sound out a word.
Terrible Spelling - Doesn’t stick...can study very hard but still can’t remember the words. Cannot do inventive spelling. Leave out the vowels.
Handwriting/Dysgraphia - Odd pencil grip. Can’t make letters sit on the line. Odd beginning and ending points. Difficulty copying off the board. Difficulty learning cursive. No punctuation or capitals.
Dyslexia in Family Tree - Dyslexia is genetic. Someone in the family has it, most times it has gone undiagnosed.
These are the classic dyslexia warning signs. One in five children have dyslexia...


If you know a child who has three or more of these signs, that child needs to be tested. This can be tricky but if you or someone you know needs help finding a tester leave me a comment or email me and I will help you out.

If you live in the Spokane, WA/Coeur D Alene, ID area, Susan Barton, a leading expert on dyslexia and founder/developer of Bright Solutions (the curriculum I use) is doing a FREE seminar this Friday March 4th. Go here for free registration.


So that I can do my part to get this information out there. Maybe some of my readers might read this post and realize that they know someone who has dyslexia. My comments are few these days but I have stat counter so I know there are some lurkers out there that don't comment...SHAME ON YOU! 

So that parents who have children who struggle and just keep failing no matter how hard they try, can get some answers and become advocates for their child.

So that more teachers and administrators can get educated and help these kids.

Maybe just maybe this little blog of mine could help change someone's life.

My children are fortunate to not struggle with dyslexia, rest assured they definitely have their own issues, but I have seen first hand how dyslexia, undiagnosed, can destroy a child's sense of self worth. I have also seen how, in a short amount of time, with the proper instruction, a child can have their lives turned around and have their self esteem rescued. I didn't get into the education business for nothing. I love kids. I want to help them. Knowledge is Power! (thank you school house rock for that one...)

There are very few things that I am this passionate about...don't even get me started on a conversation about dyslexia or I will talk your head off for sure! But since I can't sit for hours and talk to every person that reads my blog, here is a website that has some great information and free webinars you can watch.

Thanks for listening, I know this is a whole lot of information for one blog post. So to reward those of you who actually made it to the end of this post (and because I can't do a post without a photo) here is a ridiculous picture of me dancing for your viewing pleasure.

Because this is what I would be doing everyday if every kid who needed help actually got it.
Yay for knowing how to deal with dyslexia!
Sing it Whitney!


Ashley said...

Great post Jess - it is so great that you are getting this information out there. Thanks for all you do for all of the kiddos in your life.

Jenny said...

This is a great post! So at what age should you start looking for the signs because Kali has speech issues and is in speech therapy right now, but she's only four, so is that too young to worry about this? Kendall has mild dyslexia and one of his brothers has it too, more severely, so I'm always trying to catch things she may be genetically predisposed to early. What do you think?

Rochelleht said...

Wow. You're amazing. A book, tutoring, awesome mom. What can't you do!?

calibosmom said...

I'm glad I read this entire post because I got to see your crazy dancing picture! You nut! This is really wonderful and I'll pass it on. WOW! Is there anything you can't do or haven't done? You are a SUPA STAH!!! You need a superhero name. I'll think of something. It does seem really weird that educators don't know more about dyslexia-its kind of a big deal!

Becky said...

My older brother has dyslexia, he was used in a study to find out more about dyslexia back in the 80's.

With that said, the email I have for you doesn't work so...a quick note :)

(With computers breaking, our move, etc. I haven't gotten a chance to keep up on your blog. Hope things are going well with you all! In case you didn't get our newsletter, it has been almost a year since we made a big move from North Carolina to Logan, Utah area. We miss North Carolina lots but this was a great opportunity for Chad and a move to the one place in Utah we said we would want to live. So if you guys are ever in Utah please stop by! I know it has been so long but it would be great seeing ya again!)

Lauren in GA said...

I appreciate this post so much, Jessica. I think I may need to get my Brian (7) checked. He is still struggling with reading...I wonder if it is linked to dyslexia.

Love the picture. You make me smile.

jpjmba said...

I'm a caught lurker!! This is a great post because it makes us all more aware...I know way too many kids fall through the cracks and I think the info you have is so needed in the school districts. You rock!

just the five of us said...

Thanks for a fantastic post! It is amazing that so many people are unaware of dyslexia. I wish I lived in your area, because I would be sitting in the front row with you(:

the wrath of khandrea said...

good stuff. informative and motivational. a great mix. i like how dedicated you are to your causes.