I get emails like this all the time, and they always bring me to tears.
When I heard you speak on Thursday, I cried. I wish I had that information when we began our journey.
My 17 year old son, David, is dyslexic. He was diagnosed when he was 8, and he has had lots of tutoring at Sylvan and from retired Reading Specialists over the years, which has helped a little bit.
David is a really smart, handsome, and well-liked young man. He hides his dyslexia well. Yet it is still there. After your presentation, I asked him, “What letter comes after S?” He quickly responded, “R.” I shared that was “before,” not after. He then said, “I know what you’re doing. Don’t even ask me about the months of the year.”
When he played PeeWee football, he always wore a wristband so he could tell left from right.
David recently gave directions to our house to his new girlfriend. But he frequently told her to turn left instead of right. After 45 frustrating minutes, he finally handed me the phone and begged, “Please get her here.”
He is a gifted athlete and would like to play football in college. But his grade point average is only 2.65 due to his failing French (a D) and algebra (also a D). He must also pass the ACT (college entrance exam). We paid for an ACT prep course, but after the course, he only scored 13. He needs at least a 17.
He needs extra time on the reading portion, and he dreads math. He was so nervous because he knew he was not going to have enough time to finish the test. How do I go about getting him more time on the ACT?
He feels he is not smart enough to make it in college. The many days of sitting in the hall, being put in “the dumb class” (as he called it), and being teased by his peers does not go away.
But I want him to be able to follow his dream. I do not want him to join the military, which is his backup plan.
As you may know, Susan Barton started in this field by tutoring adults with dyslexia. So emails like this make her heart sing.
My first adult student was diagnosed with a ‘learning disorder’ in kindergarten. She graduated from high school, yet she could not read. When I met her, she was 26, fighting to recover from addiction, and had lost custody of her kids.
When I first started tutoring this woman a year and a half ago, she was in an adult literacy program at our local library. A friend of mine had volunteered to work with her using Laubach, but they were not making much progress.
When my friend had to move, she was worried about this woman, who was at such a vulnerable time in her recovery. So my friend asked me to take over. I was hopeful that the Barton Reading & Spelling System would work as well for an adult as it had worked for my younger students.
When I first met this woman, whenever she would try to read something, she would look up after EVERY word for confirmation from me that she had said the correct word. We are now in Book 4. Yesterday, she read an entire chapter in a real book with confidence — without looking up at me, and she was able to self-correct when necessary.
Long story short, my adult student can now read, and she has her kids back.
I am amazed, thankful, and thrilled with my success with such a “hopeless” case. Never ever give up on adults !!!
Barbara Suit, Certified Barton Tutor
Certified Barton Tutors who have gotten additional technology training, and special files, can provide Barton tutoring over the internet.
That is a great option when a student (or a tutor) is away for part of the summer, or for students who have no local Certified Barton tutors, as this person shared in a recent email.
Susan, please issue graduation certificates to two of my Barton students who just completed Level 10. One is in New Jersey. The other is in Oregon. But as you know, I am in Utah.
Thanks to your Remote Barton tutoring option, I have been able to serve many students who otherwise would not have been able to have a tutor. I have helped an adult student in Italy. I currently have students in Alaska, Alabama, Missouri, Oregon, New Jersey, Texas, and Georgia.
Most of them are in small towns with no resources.
I truly love tutoring. Thank you for creating the Barton System and for your continued support these many years.
Rosemarie Hoffman, M.A.
Certified at the Masters level in the Barton System
Parents who want a list of Remote Barton Tutors can send an email to Susan@BartonReading.com with the word Remote as the subject.
Barton Tutors who want to learn how to do remote tutoring should click here.
Many people who attended my Screening for Dyslexia course last week have asked for a copy of this letter.
Dear Mrs. Barton,
My name is Nathaniel, and I have dyslexia.
This past week, my mom has been attending your Screening for Dyslexia seminar to learn more about dyslexia and how to help others. Each night when she returns to our hotel room, she shares a few highlights of her day. She told me about the emails and letters you are sharing to remind the group why they are there at your seminar.
I wanted to share one more.
My story is similar to many other people with dyslexia. My early school years were filled with much pain and emotional trauma. My first tears, and adding the word “stupid” to my vocabulary, started in Kindergarten. I was only 5 years old.
The phrases, “Try harder,” “Practice,” “Read more,” and “Why can’t you?” were engrained in my head during those early years by teachers.
I had bruises on my fingers from trying so hard to write sentences, and I was pulled out to attend a class for slow readers.
Recess was my favorite part of the school day until 3rd grade. I was punished and humiliated during 3rd grade. I was forced to sit on the wall during recess while all the other children were allowed to play . . . simply because I could not finish my work in class on time. I had to sit there watching my friends play with my incomplete piece of paper. Yet I still was not able to complete it because I could not read it.
After weeks of sitting on that brick wall, I snuck my papers home and tearfully asked my mom to help me complete them so that I could have a couple of days to play during recess. Needless to say, I never returned to that school – thank goodness!
After that, I was finally told that I had dyslexia, and I began homeschool. In fourth grade, I was reading and spelling at a very low first grade level.
But today, I am proud – MORE than proud – to share that I am just weeks away from completing Level 10 of the Barton System. Not only can I now read and spell, but I know LATIN !!!!
I just finished 8th grade at a public school where I received awards in Academic Excellence with a 3.9 GPA. I won first place in our social studies history project, and I have been accepted for high honor classes in high school next year. My test scores show that I am proficient (and even advanced) in math, comprehension, and yes, even reading !!!!
While writing is still not my strong area, mostly due to dysgraphia, my computer sure makes it look like I am a whiz. I still hate to tie my shoes, my “other right” is a common joke, and I occasionally reverse my numbers and letters when I am tired. At times, the Franklin Spelling Ace is still my best friend, and my favorite inventor is the man who created the digital clock.
Now I can spell words like “purely exhilarated” and “euphoric joy” to express my gratitude, but my word is “happy.” Those first spelling rules, like the Happy Rule, changed my tears and fears into a HAPPY, confident and successful dyslexic student.
Thank you, Mrs. Barton.
Your forever grateful and proud dyslexic student,
Colorado Springs, CO
This private Facebook post from an adult shares the trauma of going through school without the right type of help — far better than I can.
I just wanted to say thank you for all of the work you are doing for kids with dyslexia. I just finished watching Embracing Dyslexia. You were in it, and I liked what you said.
I was one of the unlucky ones. In the 80’s, they had no idea what was wrong with me. I did not hear the word dyslexia until I was in junior high. By then, I was fighting the best I could just to keep up.
My home life was not great. There was no caring or support from my parents.
Some teachers made fun of me to my face. Others called me lazy. I was accused of not trying or being stupid.
Starting in fourth grade, the school put me in special ed classes. But they put everyone with special needs in the same room. The teacher had to help one kid who was in a wheel chair, a different student who was mentally retarded, one who had behavior problems, and a small group of us in the corner who seemed to be “faking it” because we were bright and smart, but we could not figure out how to read, spell, write or do math.
We did not belong in a class with really handicapped kids. We needed help, but not the same type of help. Friends would ask, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you in the class with the handicapped kids?” I had to answer, “I don’t know.”
Needless to say, my childhood was not fun. I was beaten down mentally and physically.
Mrs. Barton, never stop doing what you are doing. Make sure no other kid has to go through what I went through.
Make sure everyone understands what dyslexia is, and how they can help kids through it.
If you struggled in school, going back to college as an adult is scary. But it is even worse to watch your child or grandchild struggle in school the same way you did – as this grandmother shares.
I am 57 years old with a BSN in nursing. After 30 years of being out of school, I am applying to graduate school for a MSN in nursing. I am terrified.
My early school years were just horrible. No one knew what to do with me, so they just passed me through each year.
I had to attend summer school EVERY summer. I hated it.
I grew up thinking I was just stupid and that I must be lazy because it took so much time to read, study and retain information.
In high school, I worked so hard to get good grades. I would read a chapter (of course, that took forever), then I would go back and outline the chapter and write it down in my notebook (that also took forever), and then I would reread it every night.
I did not know that everyone did not have to do that.
I am embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to learn the alphabet or the multiplication tables.
Spell check is my godsend, but you’re right. It often does not work for me.
You’re also right about having to write a hand-written letter. It makes me sweat!
I am pretty sure my seven year old granddaughter has dyslexia. I see myself in her. She is struggling with reading in school and is starting to say that she hates school.
I will do anything to prevent her from going through the torture that I went through as a child.
Susan replied with:
If your granddaughter gets the right type of tutoring now — every day during the summer, and at least twice a week next school year – her reading will greatly improve. And her spelling and writing will also get better.
I will send you some tricks for learning math facts.
Until her skills reach grade level, her parents should provide 3 accommodations during homework time, and her teacher should provide some in class, as well.
If that happens, your granddaughter will NOT go through the same “torture” in school that you did.
Once teachers or reading specialists learn about dyslexia, they start to realize how many of their struggling students have it. But when they try to share that with their fellow teachers or administrators, they often run into roadblocks – as this teacher shared.
I am a reading specialist at a public school in New York. We spoke briefly by phone a few months ago because I was concerned about my 4th and 5th grade students who are not making much progress.
I watched your videos, visited several websites, and read Sally Shaywitz’s book, Overcoming Dyslexia. I am convinced they have dyslexia.
But after I shared my concern with my principal and the other teachers, things at school have become a nightmare. I have been accused of making the teachers feel inferior when I share that many students need a different type of reading instruction. They claim to have years of teaching experience, and they know what they’re doing. Yet many of these students will be passed on to middle school still reading at a second grade level.
When I talk to the resource room teacher about dyslexia, he looks at me as if I have 3 heads.
I am no longer invited to student support meetings or IEP meetings.
I don’t know how to continue in the uphill battle. I know this is a lot to throw at you, but I really don’t know who else to turn to. I have sent my principal links to your videos, and I have summarized the findings of Overcoming Dyslexia. But everyone seems indifferent, and I am now perceived as a villain.
I know my students need more support. It hurts so much to see them suffer. I am committed to helping them reach their potential. But I feel so deflated and so stuck.
I need a plan for how to continue to advocate for them. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts.
“Buddy Reading” is a common classroom activity, but it can be awful for a child with dyslexia – as this mother shared:
My son has dyslexia. I have given his teacher a lot of information about it, but she has not looked at it.
According to my son’s teacher, the more he reads, the better he will get.
So in her class, all students do “buddy reading,” in which a small group of students take turns reading out loud, page by page, to each other. This has been awful for my son.
In his first group, the kids were reading too quick for him. They had no understanding of his challenges. He could not keep up, so he gave up.
After I talked to the teacher about that, she grouped him with just one other child. Yet he reads so much slower that the other child took over the reading to get it done.
I’ve tried to explain to his teacher that this buddy reading frustrates and embarrasses him. She claims it is necessary in order to build up his fluency.
I agree he needs to improve his fluency, but this buddy reading activity only adds to his frustration because his peers now hear his slow inaccurate reading, and he is embarrassed when they make corrections.
Something isn’t right with this, but I’m not sure how to approach it.
Many schools use DIBELS for progress monitoring. But by the end of first grade, DIBELS only checks reading fluency – which means reading speed. But children with dyslexia, even after their reading skills have greatly improved, may never read as fast as the other kids.
And focusing solely on fluency can cause teachers to miss the big picture – as this mother shared in a recent email.
Our daughter is starting 4th grade. She is in Level 5 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System.
The school she attended last year was terrific. But we moved, and the 504 team at this new school has NO CLUE about dyslexia. It is so painful and frustrating to have to continually fight their ignorance.
We explained that she has been professionally diagnosed with dyslexia, and that due to our paying for the right type of private tutoring, her phonemic awareness and decoding skills are now above grade level. So is her reading comprehension.
But they are focused solely on her reading speed (fluency), which as you know, may never completely “normalize.” Who cares?
My daughter says that when she tries to read as fast as the teacher wants, she then has no idea what she read. So what’s the point?
On the state standards test at the end of last year, she scored ABOVE grade level in reading comprehension, science, and writing. And she scored AT grade level in math and in 4 of the 5 strands for reading. The only thing she scored low on is reading fluency.
Yet without our knowledge, this new school pulled her out of Chorus and sent her to the “reading intervention room.” My daughter said there were about 15 other kids in the room. Many could not read at all. They handed her crayons and told her to color a book cover.
After about 10 minutes, my daughter went to the teacher and asked her what they would be doing. The teacher said, “Testing kids.” My daughter replied, “I already was tested, and I should be in Chorus now.” The teacher insisted she had to stay in that room so that the teacher could account for all of the students.
She then handed my daughter a piece of paper, which she brought home. She was supposed to fill in the following blanks. “My name is _____. I like ______. I love ______. I feel ______. I need _____.” After showing it to me, she crumbled it up and cried. I cried, too.
She’s 11, her IQ is probably higher than the teacher, and she does not belong in that class – so we pulled her from it. The school totally disagrees with our decision and warned us, “If she tanks, we’ll be back at this table again.”