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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A California Farm Mom Shares Her Son's Dyslexia Story (Part 2)

 Part 2 of a Guest Post from A California Farm Mom.  See what their experience was with testing and tutoring.  Part 1 can be found here.

Toby was tested, which is about a 3 hour process, the day after we arrived & was diagnosed w/dyslexia.  He was also given a score from the TOVA test which grades the ADHD, which we never had a grade for to know the severity of it just a diagnosis.  Immediately after the testing, we began tutoring.  We tutored for 4 hours per day for 7 days.  I had planned our trip so the tutoring would start on a Wednesday & he would be tutored for a few days then have the weekend in the middle of the 7 day stretch to give his brain a break.  After all he was not quite 7 years old at the time & was on Summer break & nearly 2000 miles away from home wondering what the heck am I doing here.

Immediately after the first day of tutoring I could already see changes in our son.  We had gone to a museum after tutoring that first day & he saw a sign that said, "Do Not Enter."  He stood there & was actually trying to sound out the words and read what it said.  He had never done this before & was not interested.  I could see his confidence building in himself as he succeeded in sounding out those words & reading what the sign said.  I was so proud of him.  I had given him one of the biggest hugs ever as the tears began to form in the corner of my eyes.  What an accomplishment!

As the week went on I could see him becoming a happier kid & getting along with his brother better and so forth.  His outlook on life was changing in a more positive way because he was aware of more.  After the first few days, the Department head, Dr. Hurford, and I sat down & had a few words.  He informed me that our son's dyslexia is worse than what he had expected from our visits over the phone, but on a good note he is improving faster than what they thought.  It was a blessing.  This is where I strongly believe in early intervention. He also told me that ideally they would like to have him for a year.  With that said, my heart sunk.  That really told me how severe his dyslexia was/is.  A whole year.  How could this be possible?

Well in life I take everything with a grain of salt.  I wasn't going to commit to a year nor walk away.  I could possibly see a month at a time in the Summer, but a year would be tough.  In my mind I knew that we needed to try to continue & I saw the results that we were getting but where could I get such results back at home, 1950 miles away?  Dr. Hurford's son, Thomas, whom is a college graduate & following in his Dad's footsteps, was doing the tutoring with our son & had already created a bond.  I thought to myself how could we do this.  I'd go back to the hotel room in the evenings & continue researching dyslexia & try to learn all that I could while there & thinking how can we continue this....

Then the idea came to me a few days before we left.  Why not try tutoring via Skype?  We could only try.  They were willing to give it a shot & I knew it would be a very good shot if I could get our son to stay focused at the computer screen with his tutor, Thomas.  Well upon arriving home, we took a week off then went right back to it.  We made a commitment to tutor 2 hours per week, 1 hour on Tuesday & 1 hour on Thursdays.  The first time our son "Skyped" with Thomas, Toby was sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by his Legos with the iPad right in front of him with his tutor there.  Our son was actually staying focused & working with Thomas through "Skype" on the ipad!!!  Here he was surrounded by the Legos that he loved & without even touching them, Thomas had his complete attention.

I was absolutely amazed & was trying not to jump for joy & break the focusing.  It was a joyful moment for sure.  We continued the tutoring until school started & now we tutor weekly since that really does make for a long day for a young 7 year old, attending school all day then coming home & sitting for another hour being tutored.  So Wednesdays, our son has a shorter day at school & we tutor those days.

I constantly see improvement in our son in working with Thomas.  Not only in his reading & sounding out words, but his self confidence & self esteem.  Some things are still a struggle, but he is improving.  I remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day, as much as I would like it to be sometimes.

By taking our son to Kansas, for the testing, I was able to get a diagnosis there for him & the help that he needed.  We have returned home with a 8 page report that explains his testing & diagnosis, in which I was able to present to his IEP (Individualized  Educational Plan) of teachers & staff that we meet with at school.  It was a eye opener.  Before when I would mention dyslexia it was like it went through one ear & out the other.  They did not know how to test for it nor how to teach students with it should there be a diagnosis.  I have several teacher friends that I questioned before coming home from Kansas.  "If you had a student that was dyslexic, would you know how to teach them or help them?"  They had no idea.  And not to take away from these teachers because they are good teachers, but the education system is not recognizing this yet.  Not at a level in which it should be & have the support for it.  Remember, 1 in every 5, is possibly is dyslexic.  That's 20%!

With that said, I haven't made any plans yet, but perhaps hoping to go out again this next Summer back to PSU & get some more one on one help and continue the tutoring services of their program.  I can't imagine the struggles that these people go through in life that haven't gotten this help & can't read & don't understand things such as others do.  We all learn things differently and sometimes some just learn even more differently than others.  It might be more time consuming, but in the end it is all worth it.  Our son continues to amaze us at some of the things that he does out on the farm or even in the house playing with Legos and so forth.  He has a very high IQ, but he has just not been able to completely unleash it yet.  We can foresee him possibly being a engineer in the future based upon how he uses his mind to build things & structurally think ahead.  Time will tell.  His speech has been improving since our intervention & his positive outlook on life has drastically increased which is a huge factor in anything that you do in life.  We could not be happier with the results that we are seeing from our participation in the CARRD program, at Pittsburg State University.  We still have a long road ahead but we are also so thankful for the help that we have found.  You know your child best.  My best advice is use your own judgement & follow what your heart tells you.

Sandy vB

Thank you so much for sharing Sandy!  Each child's experience is different and we all do what we think is best for their child at the time. -KFM

For more information check out the post How Do I Sort Through all of this Information of Dyslexia and ADHD?