From retained in third grade to Duke TIP

Once dyslexia is identified, and a child gets the right type of help, they can finally reach their potential — as this parent shared:  

Susan, I had to share my daughter’s story with you and tell you how much of a life saver you and your programs are.

Prior to starting Kindergarten, we had no idea that McKenna had any issues. She seemed so bright, well-spoken and when I’d read to her at night, she’d take the book and read it back to me, or so I thought.

Once school started, however, it was a different story. I was contacted by her Kindergarten teacher telling me that she was sending McKenna for some extra testing and that she thought McKenna needed therapy for fine motor skills. The Guidance Counselor called me and told me that she didn’t even bother finishing the oral testing because McKenna was just too smart for it and didn’t even understand why McKenna had been sent for it. I figured McKenna was behind due to not going to preschool, being a lefty, and being younger than the other students.

But her struggles continued. We’d work on homework forever, she could never remember her spelling words even though we were constantly showing her flash cards, and forget about the concept of “sounding out words.”

We hired a school teacher as a tutor, and McKenna stayed after school several days a week.

In second grade, McKenna came home and announced that she had enrolled herself in extended day reading classes, and that I’d need to drop her off early twice a week for extra reading help. Despite all that, we’d still work until 9:00 pm on homework. Yet she’d only bring home C’s and D’s — after all that extra work.

I requested a parent teacher conference after EVERY report card, trying to figure out what was going on. All I was told was that I needed to make her read more, read more, read more. I cried after every single report card. They didn’t understand my concern since she was not failing, and she seemed to always “pull it up” by the end of the school year. They had NO idea how hard she was working, just to “pull it up.”

She was doing well in math until she got to third grade when it all became word problems with gigantic words like parallelogram.

In third grade, we added extra days with the tutor to prepare for the dreaded state testing. Based on that one test, they determine if a child is retained or promoted. McKenna was so terrified and had horrible anxiety. The night before the test, this third grader asked me if this test was going to affect her college applications. Then came the dreaded news that she did not pass.

When I gave her the results at home, she immediately ran to her room and locked the door.  All I could do from the other side was tell this poor crying child that she was wrong to say that she “is stupid.”

She hated reading, so when she came home telling me about a book that she liked (James and The Giant Peach) I ran right to the book store to buy her a copy. She decided that since she had to attend summer school due to failing the test, that this was the book she was going to read. When she came home from summer school and threw the book away, I was confused. She told me that when the teacher walked by and saw her reading it, the teacher loudly announced, “You know you can’t read that book, so why are you pretending?”

I couldn’t take anymore and decided to research on my own instead of trusting the teachers. I also started discussing things with her pediatrician, which got the ball rolling with some of the testing. After months of testing, we were told she had ADHD with a visual processing disorder. Not really understanding what that meant, I took her to an eye specialist. Everything was normal, of course.

It wasn’t until I found your website and watched your videos and read all the parent accounts that I understood. I was blown away!!! I felt like the stories were being told by me.

I decided to have McKenna tested for dyslexia and reached out to you for testing centers. We found someone to perform the test, and I prepared myself and McKenna as much as possible for the outcome. I was so worried that I was wrong about her having dyslexia and would have to start over. Yet she fit all the descriptions so perfectly, and it felt amazing to be able to put a name on this problem that I’d been trying for years to describe to all her teachers.

I even asked McKenna if she’d be upset if she was diagnosed as dyslexic. Her answer broke my heart. She told me that she would be upset if she did NOT have dyslexia because that would mean she was just stupid.

Her diagnosis came back as dyslexia. We had an answer. Now we needed a plan. Back to your website I headed.

I ordered the first part of the Barton Reading System while also beginning to work with the school on getting interventions into place. That took almost an entire school year, and they did not offer any sort of remedial help that would actually help with teaching a dyslexic how to read. I was so frustrated, but I knew what to expect from my research.

I simply let every teacher know that some of her regular homework would NOT be done because I was substituting that time to tutor McKenna with the Barton Reading System.

Fast forward a couple of years. McKenna has gone from being retained in 3rd grade and hating school, to straight A honor roll in all advanced classes.

And in her 7th grade year, she received an invitation to participate in the Duke University TIP program (Talent Indentification Program) due to some of her high test scores.

McKenna took the ACT in February and got amazing test results. Not only was she awarded by Duke at the state level, but she received an invitation to go to Duke University to receive recognition on the national level.

The irony is that the portion of the ACT that she scored highest at the national level was the reading portion!!!!!! McKenna scored higher than 90% of high school students who took the test and she was only in 7th grade.

I couldn’t be prouder of my little dyslexic wonder kid. She has embraced her dyslexia and is her own greatest advocate at school. I let her direct her IEP meetings for the most part and only offer help when I need clarification.

I cannot thank you enough. I heard your story about your nephew and loved your determination to help him. I can tell you that I understand the desperation you must have felt. I was so lost and desperate until I found BrightSolutions.US. Once I began researching on that site, I couldn’t stop talking to people about it.

I used to cry and tell my husband that school and homework was destroying my relationship with my daughter. I just knew that she hated me because I kept pushing. I simply did not understand what was wrong. I was the mom who told her she wasn’t trying hard enough and that she needed to read more — because that’s what the teachers were telling me.

You’ve helped me help my daughter, and that is such a precious gift. She absolutely knows now that she isn’t “stupid.”

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Christina Vitali, parent
New Port Richey, FL

One response

  1. This is so wonderful!! I have a grandson that lives with us and he has these problems too. Although I am unable to teach him with this program, I have found much information and good advice for things we can work on and how to receive the help he needs. My grandson is also very smart but would come home saying, ‘I am so stupid!’ because of something that would happen in class. These kids need us to advocate for them as you have done so well. I am so happy for McKenna.

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