My son Kody completed all ten levels of the Barton Reading & Spelling System. He is now a Junior in high school. He recently wrote this paper for English class. I wanted to share it with you.
Being 17 years old and having dyslexia may not seem like a big deal. But what I’ve had to do to this point in my life may be hard for others to comprehend. For most people, when they hear of someone that has a disability, they feel bad and look down on them.
People do not understand how hardworking, motivated and determined we are.
From the beginning of elementary school to third grade, I was always behind in school and not progressing like other students in my class, no matter how hard I had worked. I was then tested for dyslexia.
Being told I have a disability by my mother was really hard to accept in the beginning; however, it may have actually been one of the best parts of my life.
I finally had an explanation as to why I wasn’t doing as well in school. Teachers finally would stop saying that I “wasn’t trying” or that I just needed to put more effort into school.
I knew that having a disability was not going to cause me to give up. I knew that I would have to work twice as hard as everyone else.
I pushed myself throughout the rest of elementary school and through middle school, trying to get on the same level as my peers. I tried many things — such as doing different reading programs (some that had helped amazingly, the Barton Reading & Spelling System, and others that did not), working with my teachers one-on-one outside of school, and spending every night doing four to five hours of homework when other kids would get their homework done in class.
The one goal I wanted to achieve by high school was to avoid standing out from everyone else. Going into high school, I was finally on the same level as the other kids in my grade.
Having known and experienced just how hard it can be to have a disability, I have insights as to what other kids are most likely dealing with. It may be peers making fun of them, being told they can’t do something just because of their disability, or teachers not understanding how they learn best.
For me, the most stressful part of class was being terrified I was going to be called on to read out loud and then being judged by my peers.
When given a writing assignment, I would sit by myself, away from everyone, so no one would be able to see my writing and laugh at me.
Being someone with a disability, I know that there are always going to be people who will never understand the journey that I, along with many others, have faced; nor what I have done to get to where I am now. I hope that sharing my story will help others understand not only the negatives of having a disability, but also to see the opportunities that are possible.
Through all the struggles I’ve faced and experienced, I have always pushed through and thrived. The biggest advice I can give to someone with a disability is not to be ashamed of it or let it label you as “abnormal” (compared to whatever “normal” may be).
In my case, I would never say, “I’m a dyslexic.” I would say, “I am a person that has dyslexia.”
A disability is one part of who you are; it’s up to you to show the world how you want to be seen.
Koby Koblitz, Barton Graduate
When you catch dyslexia early, children catch up faster — as this parent shares.
My son Nicholas is in second grade at a private school. We took him out of the public school system when they failed to identify his dyslexia — even though the public school in our town is one of the best in our state.
We had him tested privately. He has moderate dyslexia. They recommended we tutor him using the Barton Reading & Spelling System.
Nicholas is about to start Level 4 in your system. His reading grade was a C in the first quarter, went to a B in the second quarter, and in the last quarter, he got an A. My son is excelling in the Barton System. He is even volunteering to read to his classmates.
We are very proud of our son’s success. Your system has been critical for that success.
Gy and Cynthia Kern, parents
Notes like this is what keeps me energized and willing to work so hard:
Susan, I just wanted to thank you for all your help over the years. I have called you several times for advice, and you even reviewed our neuropsychologist’s report on our kids, Michael (9th grade), Patrick (8th grade), and Nicholas (6th grade).
All of them are severely to profoundly dyslexic. I never thought they would read, and even half way into Level 3 of the Barton System, I didn’t think they would ever read for pleasure.
But they all read now. Two of them read for pleasure every single day. And all them are doing well in school.
Our biggest problem is convincing teachers that they are actually dyslexic!
I can’t imagine what their life would be like without you or the Barton System.
Mary and Matthew Crandall, parents
I love getting emails like this:
Five years ago, my son was struggling terribly. He was in third grade and could no longer mask the difficulty he was having with reading fluency.
Homework drove him to tears. It had gotten so bad that he would hit himself in the head and call himself “stupid.” It broke my heart.
Today, Nolan completed the Barton Reading & Spelling System with Janis Garcia, a wonderful Certified Barton Tutor. He proudly received his certificate signed by Susan Barton.
Nolan is excelling in school, but perhaps more importantly, he has regained his self-confidence.
I can’t thank you enough for all you have done to drive awareness, to advocate, and to provide resources for addressing the needs of children with dyslexia. It has made all the difference in the world for our family.
Kim Shinmoto, parent
When you are going through the long process of tutoring, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So I wanted to share this message that was posted on a Facebook page for parents of children with dyslexia. This parent gave me permission to share her post.
A message of hope for all struggling students and parents:
My daughter was 3 years behind in reading in 3rd grade.
At the beginning of 4th grade, testing showed she was only reading at the 4th percentile.
So we found a tutor, and over the next 3 years, my daughter went through the Barton Reading & Spelling System at her pace, and she learned to read.
The Barton System claims to be able to bring dyslexic children up to a 9th-grade reading level, and boy, did it deliver.
I just received my daughters results from the high school placement test where she scored … drum roll please … 95th percentile. That means she scored higher than 95 percent her peers.
She has gone from hating to read to reading a book a week. It has been quite an amazing transformation.
Thank you Susan Barton, my wonderful Barton tutor, and my amazing hard-working daughter who never gives up. Tears of joy flow freely.
Kristen Day, parent
This parent got Barton tutoring for her son in kindergarten — and it quickly healed his emotional scars.
Susan, I heard you speak about dyslexia in Appleton when my son was 5.
At the beginning of kindergarten, he was already saying that he hated himself because he was stupid — because he couldn’t read like the other kids. I was shocked to hear him say it with such strong emotion at that young age.
He’s now had a year of Barton tutoring at the Dyslexia Reading Connection Center.
If only if you could have been a fly on the wall at his last parent-teacher conference. He’s starting to read and is proud of what he’s accomplishing. He’s happy, confident, and a leader in his Montessori classroom.
And best of all, he WANTS to learn. That spark was not extinguished.
We are amazed and so deeply grateful for his progress.
Things are going really well, and I believe he’s going to continue having the school experience every child so deserves — where they feel safe and accepted, even if they learn differently.
And I’m so grateful to you for dedicating your life to dyslexia awareness and education.
I love it when schools spend a year doing a pilot program using the Barton System – because I know the results will be great. And next year, the school will expand the program, as this teacher shared:
Susan, with your help and guidance through our first year using the Barton Reading & Spelling System, we have had students soar with growth.
We have seen discouraged, defeated parents turn into encouraged and hopeful parents. Students beam when they feel and see how much they have accomplished over the year.
For instance, a 4th grader started the year reading at a 2.9 grade level. After seven months of doing the Barton System, she is now reading at a 5.1 grade level.
We want to thank you so much. We will be forever grateful to you and your program.
And it’s only the beginning!
Valena Taber, Education Coordinator
South Columbia Family School
When you homeschool your child, you can do Barton tutoring every day and close the gap much faster — as this parent shared:
Thank you for making a way for me to help my daughter, Ann. We just finished the entire Barton Reading & Spelling System.
When my daughter was in 5th grade, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. But she was “not bad enough” to qualify for any special help in the school. Yet she was falling further and further behind each year.
I was a stay-at-home mom, so I did not have the financial resources to hire a private tutor.
Instead, I pulled her out of her full-time public school, and found a hybrid school that has your program, The Summit Academy in Colorado. I never would have had the confidence to even try to help Ann without your “scripted” lesson plans, and her teacher, Angela Dormish, who gave Ann your posttest at the end of each level.
It took us two years, but we finished. I feel closer to Ann than I have in years.
Ann will now go back into the classroom equipped with the skills she needs.
I write this letter through grateful tears. May God richly bless you for your incredible work.
Our dyslexic kids can do well in college courses, as this parents shares:
I just had to share a success story with people who will understand what it means.
My son is severely dyslexic and was not diagnosed until he was almost 11. At that point, he could not even write simple sentences, and I was homeschooling him.
We just completed Level 10 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System in March.
David is in 9th grade and is taking three courses at the local community college as a concurrent enrollment student: World History, Biology, and Psychology. It has been a challenging semester, but the school has been wonderful about providing accommodations and most professors have been supportive.
He’s doing well in all his classes, but today was a special success. David brought home his research paper for history — the first research paper he’s ever had to write, and it required many primary and secondary sources. He earned 98/100 points!!!
I just about fell over!
I am so proud of his hard work and so thankful for the Barton System and for a school and teachers who are willing to provide needed accommodations. It just shows you what our students can do when they are given what they need.
I hope this encourages some of you who are just beginning this journey.
Michelle Chambra, former homeschool parent
now a Certified Barton Tutor
Redwood City, CA
This is why Early Intervention — of the right type and intensity — is so important.
Travis never attended public school because I realized that he showed the same symptoms of dyslexia that my older son did at that age.
So I homeschooled Travis and started him on the Barton program as soon as he was old enough. I was already using it with his older brother and having good results.
Recently, Travis began expressing a desire to go to 2nd grade public school with his friends, which I figured would happen eventually. So, I took him up to our local elementary school. The teachers, principal, and counselor were great. They took him on a tour of the school, let him observe a class, and even let him play on the playground for a while. He felt right at home and decided he might like to try public school for the last six weeks of the year — even though I did explain to Travis that he would have to continue doing Barton 3x per week after school.
Of course, the first thing the school staff wanted to do was placement testing. The reading specialist evaluated his reading level as approximately 3.0 grade level. She did mention that she thought his fluency was lacking as he read from one line of text to the next and encouraged me to read aloud to him daily.
I then shared the testing we had done with a private dyslexia interventionist who said that although he was young, it was her best opinion that he was pretty severely dyslexic. I also shared some of the results of his testing, such as being at the 2nd percentile for phonemic awareness.
Then I explained how we had been using a combination of the Barton System (which she was not familiar with, but she knew of OG), and occupational therapy for the dysgraphia for almost three years. The more I talked, the wider her eyes got.
She finally said, “I had no idea that what you are saying you have done could actually be done. I see these kids come through here with such low skills, and they get further and further behind. It scars them for life, and they never recover from it. I would have never guessed that he was dyslexic. He didn’t mix up a single sound while he was reading. I’ve never known anyone who has actually fixed it.”
Mind you, we live in Texas, where dyslexic students receive “daily intervention” from our public schools. Sadly, it is often ineffective, as it was with my oldest son, who could not read CVC words in 3rd grade despite their “intervention.”
I wish I had known how to help my oldest son before he had the chance to feel like a failure, but I just didn’t know what to do.
Thank you so much for bringing awareness and education to parents about the dyslexia community, updates about the latest research of brain imaging, and best teaching practices.
Most of all, thank you for giving my son a chance to show the world what a bright boy he is. I’m still not sure if he will go to that school or if we will continue homeschooling, but I do know that either way, he will be a success because of your program and his hard work.