Category Archives: Psychologists

Do Not Wait

Schools often tell parents of struggling students to wait, as this parent shared:

I need some help to decide what to do for my eight year old son. He is finishing second grade, but he has never read at grade level.

The principal wanted him to repeat first grade, but my husband and I refused, so he was sent to second grade. He has worked with the reading specialist one-on-one for two years with no improvement.

I asked his teacher last year if he could be dyslexic. She told me that was not possible. She claimed he just had a behavior issue. I disagree and feel that he lost a year because of her poor attitude.

He was diagnosed with visual acuity issues and Irlen Syndrome, but after eight months with no improvement and horrible migraines, we decided to involve our pediatrician. He sent us to a pediatric ophthalmologist at a university who said my son does NOT have a vision problem it all. His said my son has dyslexia, and he felt my son’s headaches were caused by the tension and stress of not being able to do the work.

Yet he recommended we wait until he is 9 to be tested by the school because the gap will be greater.

His school has promised they will test him for Special Ed services next year.

The problem is I don’t want the gap to get any larger. I want to help him now!

What should I do?

If you know or suspect your child has dyslexia, waiting is the worst thing you can do – because it will not go away. Your child will only get further and further behind.

Every parent who has contacted me during the past 20 years wished they had started providing the right type of tutoring sooner.

So do not wait for the school to test him. Start tutoring him now using the Barton Reading & Spelling System or any other good Orton-Gillingham based system. Tutor him every day during the summer – while the pressure of school, homework, and tests is gone. You will be amazed how much his skills can improve with daily tutoring.

And if you think that qualifying for special ed services is the answer, read on.

A school psychologist shared:

From what I see, the biggest hurdle for these students is what happens AFTER the students are placed in special ed.

This parent shared:

I have a 12 year old son who is in 6th grade.

He attended a private Christian school until 4th grade. They noticed his reading struggles in second grade and put him in a reading lab. It was worthless.

We got his eyes checked, and the doctor said he had a tracking problem. We spent more than $ 2,000 on vision therapy and eye exercises that did not help with his reading.

He has gotten private tutoring, speech therapy, and gone to a number of tutoring centers. We have spent countless amounts of money on him. Everyone told us he would either grow out of it, or he would learn to compensate.

In 4th grade, we moved him to a public school, hoping to get more services for him. He did qualify for special education due to his reading. We thought we finally had the answer.

Wrong. He is now in 6th grade, yet he is still reading at a 2nd grade level and is a horrible speller.

They work with him one-on-one in the resource room, and they allow him to listen to books so he can keep up with what his classmates are reading. But he still is not learning how to read, write, or spell. I am soooooo frustrated.

I have cried. I have been angry. I have been humbled. I have prayed and prayed and prayed. God finally gave me peace about not pushing him so much and not being too hard on him. But he is not getting any better. He studies the weekly spelling list for hours and hours, yet he forgets the words by the following week.

Yet he gets A’s and B’s on his report cards, which amazes me. Our public education system has become a joke. He is in 6th grade and can’t read or write anywhere near grade level, yet they are giving him A’s and B’s.

There must be so many other children who are also slipping through the cracks, and so many parents at a loss.

I would like to start tutoring him using the Barton System, but he absolutely refuses to try one more program or tutor – because in the past, they have all done more damage than good.

So, parents, get your child the right type of tutoring yourself – as early as possible. It makes a huge difference, as this parent shared:

Dear Mrs. Barton:

Thank you so much for helping us help our daughter. We learned about Learning Ally through you. We learned about classroom accommodations through you. And we found a great Barton tutor through you.

It has been a joy to watch my daughter grow from being a reluctant 3rd grader to an engaged 4th grader. She still has a lot of work with her tutor, and we will have many other challenges, but knowing there are resources that we can use to help her be successful is an unbelievable comfort.

And this parent shared:

Susan, I have to thank you for all you do. The support and knowledge you have shared has helped me with my daughter in so many ways.

Two years ago (after we gave up on the school) we had her tested privately and discovered she has dyslexia and ADD. That’s why she would never read out loud in class, or even to us.

That was then…..

Yesterday (after two years of Barton tutoring and appropriate accommodations) she stood in front of the entire school …classmates, teachers and parents … and delivered an amazing (and confident) speech about why she should be SCA president.

She WON the election!

I knew she was special and had many gifts, but yesterday she proved it to herself and her school. She said “challenges make you stronger and wiser” (which is what her speech was about).

My husband and I sat back last night thinking of the last two years, and we realized how hard she has worked…but she never gave up.

Kids with dyslexia are tough. I am not sure I could do what she has done, but I am glad I was there to encourage her along the way.

Thank you for all your help and guidance. We couldn’t have done it without your support!

Wants a second opinion

Children with dyslexia will often NOT qualify for special education services when tested in first or second (or even third) grade. Yet as the following parent shared, the classic warning signs will already be there, and that’s exactly when a child should start getting the right type of tutoring. 

I am looking for someone who can give me a second opinion on test results of an evaluation done with my 7 year old son, who will be starting 2nd grade in 2 weeks.

First grade was a hard year for him – lots of tantrums and self-esteem problems. We could not figure out where all his anger was coming from until last December, when he started to fall behind in reading. In February it dawned on me that he might have dyslexia. I felt we needed an evaluation so we could start helping him effectively right away and not lose valuable years of reading training.

We had him privately evaluated by an educational psychologist to check for a learning disability because the public school said he was not doing poorly enough for them to do it.

The examiner found a “severe discrepancy” between reading achievement (23 %ile) and IQ (75 %ile), but he did not find a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes, which is why we did not receive a diagnosis of a learning disability.

He did test quite low in auditory processing (19 %ile). He actually scored even lower (at the 1 %ile) in the word discrimination subtest, but the examiner thought that might have been a fluke – because he scored so high in thinking and reasoning (91 %ile) and in the visual-spatial stuff (91 %ile).

The examiner felt my son was a very bright boy and that he would catch up in reading as he matured. He claimed his tantrums were just a cry for attention.

Despite that, my husband and I are still concerned. I really would like someone else to look at his scores for a second opinion because I have read several books and researched dyslexia online – and I see lots of the warning signs in my son.

Is it possible that he still could have dyslexia, but is not far enough behind in school yet to get a diagnosis?

I would really like his teacher to realize he is not being lazy or not paying attention.

I also want to be able to give my son a reason for his difficulties so he’ll know he’s not dumb. We have told him how smart he is, of course, but when he sees how well other kids are reading, he gets frustrated and feels stupid.

Emotional Disorder or Dyslexia?

Parents often don’t believe me when I tell them that most school psychologists have had no training in dyslexia. But I get emails like this every day: 

From a school psychologist in New York:

I would LOVE to attend your Screening for Dyslexia conference.

Our number one question during RTI meetings is if there is a possibility a child might have dyslexia. This topic is vague to me even after years of reading and doing independent research.

Yet as the “expert” at these meetings, I struggle with remediation techniques that may work after I screen a student and determine deficits.

Or from this school psychologist in Colorado:

I am a school psychologist in Colorado. I agree to your notion that we have no specialty in diagnosing dyslexia, however the prevalence of parents’ requests seems to grow and grow. Unfortunately, when parents cannot afford outside assistance, we are the only ones that are left.

I have been to several workshops, symposiums, etc, yet do not feel completely educated on the subject. Do you recommend any books or specific journals on the topic? How about books that may target age groups lower than 8 years old in looking at dyslexia?

That lack of knowledge causes this:

My son just finished second grade and is dyslexic. I am sure of it. His father is dyslexic, and his father’s father is dyslexic. He has almost every single warning sign listed on your website and in many of the books that I have read.

Yet when he qualified for special education services in May, they classified him as having an “Emotional Disorder” — even though his reading scores were really, really low. The school considers “average” anything from the 16th percentile to the 85th percentile, and his reading score was exactly at the 16th percentile.

The school psychologist told me that my son’s anxiety and depression were “off the charts” and that he CAN read — but his anxiety gets in the way and he becomes “too stressed out” to read.

When I tried to explain that he was most likely anxious and depressed because he CANNOT read, the psychologist just flippantly said, “So it’s one of those which came first things — the chicken or the egg.”

They never looked at his spelling (which is horrible, with all of the classic dyslexic spelling mistakes) or asked him to write anything (he HATES to write, even a few sentences).

His IEP only lists services for emotional issues (meet with the counselor once a week). What do I do? Just let him flounder?

He won’t be able to read the board or any of the books used in third grade. Do I just let him founder with no accommodations? That seems so cruel.

He already hates himself for being “stupid and different” — his words, not mine.

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