I am a mom to two boys who both overcame Dyslexia thanks to early intervention. Dyslexia is far more severe than writing letters backward; it is how one thinks and sees and translates information. It has nothing to do with intelligence but everything to do with learning style.
Here are some signs to look out for.
As babies, both of my boys failed to meet their speech milestone(s)
My youngest had Speech Apraxia; this is a reversal of letters while speaking and nothing to do with reading or writing; it is how he heard information- think Tire F__k instead of a fire truck, one of my youngest son’s infamous pronunciation mistakes. This eventually led to a significant stuttering issue for my youngest in Kindergarten. I believe in part it is due to his brain thinking faster than he can speak.
Spacial use of paper; both of my boys demonstrated an inability to use a piece of paper to write and spread letters appropriately; instead, a small amount of real estate was used, resulting in letters squished and going down the paper vs. across.
Reading was challenging despite how smart my boys were; my oldest, for example, knew all of the planet names by age 3 but was failing at reading. By first grade, he was throwing books across the room in frustration, crying everything was squished together.
How We Handled Dyslexia
Both of my boys had access to technology at a young age. We downloaded the Dylexie font, which creates extra space between letters and little subtle changes to letters to prevent someone from flipping or reversing letters.
Each of my boys had an Individual Education Plan at school, complete with small group testing with extended test time and preferential seating outside their regular classrooms.
Both my boys received Occupational and Speech Therapy at school, complete with Handwriting without Tears and Orton Gillingham. We even hired tutors off and on throughout the school years. The tutors we hired trained us on how to work with our own children.
When I first raised concerns about my oldest son to the school, born on the Autism Spectrum, was experiencing new problems, the school’s initial response was to blame it on the spectrum. We had to hire an outside Educational Psychologist to test our son to learn what was going on. These tests are expensive and took two full days to complete under the watchful eye of professionals.
We paid close attention to the shows our children were watching temporarily and removed access from some. Some shows jumped from story to story quickly, fueling our boys’ inability to focus, while others had an overarching story for the show’s duration like Sesame Street, helping our boys learn how to focus.
My oldest is now in high school and in all advanced classes, no IEP necessary or special testing accommodations. My youngest is in all mainstream classes pulling As and Bs, no IEP in place or any form of testing accommodations necessary. Early Intervention works. My boys are walking testaments.
Open School of Choice Matters.
Not all schools today are equipped equally to help children with Dyslexia. I interviewed several schools in Metro Atlanta before our move from Canton. Even in Cherokee County, not all schools had access to Orton Gillingham and Handwriting without Tears, nor did all teachers know how to work with Dyslexic children and that is why open school of choice matters.
I am very grateful President Trump is an advocate for open School of Choice and vouchers for Charter Schools. This is a big deal to help children like mine overcome Dyslexia. Not everyone can afford to move to a new home to accommodate their children’s educational needs, and it is a huge mistake to think all schools are equal; they are not.
On the flipside, Joe Biden wants to do away with Charter Schools; this is a huge mistake and will hurt kids getting the help they need. We already have a shortage of qualified teachers and schools. Biden’s approach to education puts teachers’ unions first while placing poor and minority students, including those with special needs, second.