My daughter is currently in 3rd grade. She started the year reading at a 1st grade level. I have known since kindergarten there was a problem but no one in the education system would listen to me. Sound familiar? I am betting that if you are reading this it does sound familiar to you.
When she was in kindergarten she wasn't reading. I listened to her best friend reading one day and I was amazed at how different her reading was. I was shocked, my daughter could barely read basic sight words. I still have guilt about raising my voice when she would read with me, struggle with a word like have, I would tell her what the word was after sounding out all the sounds with her and on the very next page she would struggle with the same word again, "we just read this word!" Sound familiar?
She finished kindergarten reading at a C level. I was thrilled. I was told kids had to be at C level to go to 1st grade. I did actually question this though because she wasn't reading but I was assured she made it because "they lowered the standards". Fabulous. What every parent wants to hear, that standards were lowered.
1st grade. Her teacher and I knew she had a problem but we couldn't pin point it. We also knew she had speech issues so she was sent for a speech evaluation and I was told she was still within the normal range. Thankfully her teacher stressed that this was in fact affecting her school work so by April of 1st grade she got an IEP for speech. She had a month of speech before the school year ended and I was told she needed summer school. A month of waking up early everyday, dropping her off and picking her up a few hours later. A month of her crying, "Mom, I don't want to go". At the end of the month I asked her summer school teacher, "how is she reading?" and the response I got back was, "She is such a delightful sweet girl". Hmmmmm "Read 20 minutes a day." Hmmmmm
Ahhh 2nd grade. Her new teacher also agreed she was struggling but thought it was a confidence issue and if we can build her confidence she thought she would be fine. By mid year she started to come home saying she was stupid. She would cry Thursday nights and not want to go to school Friday morning (test day) and she would say she hated school. I was heartbroken. My daughter is 7 and she thinks she is stupid and hates school, in 2nd grade! I had to do something.
Enter Julya. I met Julya when our kids were in kindergarten. She sent me a link to Susan Barton's website that had a list of warning signs for dyslexia. My daughter had almost all of them. WOW. I thought dyslexia was when people switched letters around in words, like the word was and they see saw. Dyslexia is so much more than that.
I started to ask questions. I was told, "we don't use the word dyslexia anymore, it is a learning disability in reading." At an IEP meeting to close out the speech IEP I asked the question, "why isn't she reading?" I was told they would do an evaluation on her. A month later I was told she is reading below grade level but she does not have a learning disability in reading. What is going on then? Most children with dyslexia aren't helped until 3rd or 4th grade because that is when students are no longer learning to read but are now reading to learn and they begin to really struggle.
I hired an advocate. I needed help. My daughter needed help. I read everything I could find about dyslexia, IDEA, RTI, 504, anything I could do to help my daughter get the education she deserved. All I wanted was for the school the teach my daughter to read. It has been a long uphill battle. We are still working on this.
I am currently taking a dyslexia certification course from the Dyslexia Training Institute and I am learning so much, but through all of this I have learned that parents need to be knowledgeable. Do your research, always ask questions, hire an advocate, do whatever it takes to understand and help your child.
So what has brought me to The Dyslexia Spot? I quickly realized that parents needed a place to talk to other parents. A place to get advice because there isn't a lot of help out there and it broke my heart. Our education system is becoming more and more about money and less about what is best for a student. I want to help other parents. I have been making my way up this hill and I want to help others who are starting the climb. We started a Facebook group called Knoxville Decoding Dyslexia for parents to talk to other parents and I started The Dyslexia Spot for parents to get more personal help for their children. We will soon have tutoring help as well. Parents working together can make a difference. We will get there.