Dyslexia 101

When I started this blog over a year ago, I had very specific intentions of it being a tool for dyslexics and their families. In my second post I introduced you to Thomas and his disability and then a couple weeks later I shared our remediation plans for the year here and here. Then I got sidetracked, mostly because I’m very self-centered and like to write about myself, but also because I became lulled into a false sense of security about Thomas and his education.

Because last year went very well. Thomas, his teacher and the principal put a lot of extra time, effort and patience into the 3rd grade and the result was a very positive year that Thomas enjoyed and actually learned in.

Then we began this year with two teachers unfamiliar with Thomas and his past struggles. Both are experienced teachers, so when Jack and I met with them the second week of school to discuss Thomas and his classroom accommodations, and they both said that they felt confident Thomas was able to handle their style of teaching and excel, I left filled with hope. Jack on the other hand later confessed he left with a “they’ll see” attitude.

So when Thomas’s homeroom teacher called last week requesting a meeting, Jack was prepared while I was disappointed and nervous and maybe a little angry that we were in this situation again.

The meeting went well (even though I got a little emotional). They’re gonna implement the accommodations Thomas should have been using from the beginning and we’re gonna try some different study techniques at home. Our principal was very supportive. Basically we all want the same thing: a chance for Thomas to learn, to cope in society and to feed the voracious mind that wants to know EVERYTHING. My fear is that if we don’t find a way to accomplish these goals, Thomas will shut down and give up on learning forever. And that would be such a waste.

So, for those of you who are in this situation or suspect you might soon be in this situation here are a few things you need to know:

  • Read Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level by Sally Shaywitz. This book defines dyslexia in such a way that even I understand the who, what, when, where, and why’s behind it. Our local library had a copy.
  • Whether you live in Texas or not, you need to read the TEA Dyslexia Handbook. Despite my personal battle, Texas is the most advanced state in the work to address the struggles of dyslexic students.
  • Also read the TEA Accommodations Manual. Classroom and testing accommodations make all the difference in how Thomas gets what he knows out of his head and to the teacher for assessment.
  • Check out Reading for the Blind & Dyslexic for downloadable textbooks, fiction and non-fiction for reading and research and test prep. materials. We use these for Thomas’s AR reading.
  • Try using colored sheets of acetate over assignments or colored paper. I don’t know why it works but it does for Thomas.
  • My sister, who has three dyslexic sons and has taught dyslexics for over 10 years, is a big fan of the Scottish Rite Learning Centers, but they are few and far between AND expensive.

All these resources helped us, but the bottom line is you’ve got to keep trying EVERYTHING until you find what works for your kid. And don’t give up. Leonardo da Vinci, Nelson Rockefeller, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Pablo Picasso, Ludwig van Beethoven, Agatha Christie, George Washington, John F Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Alexander Graham Bell, John Lennon, Henry Ford, Richard Branson and Winston Churchill were all dyslexic.


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