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
I love getting emails from successful Barton students – who want to give hope and encouragement to others who are just starting this journey. Here’s one from Kate.
My name is Kate Schaefer, and I am dyslexic. I have been through the Barton System and let me tell you, it has done wonders.
I wrote this about the wonders of fighting, and eventually accepting, dyslexia. If I had read this when I was first diagnosed, it would have helped me so much emotionally along the way. Feel free to share it with anyone.
Dyslexia, defined by Webster’s dictionary, is a variable often familial learning disability involving difficulties in acquiring and processing language that is typically manifested by a lack of proficiency in reading, spelling, and writing.
This definition is undeniably verifiable and familiar to most people. However, roughly 15% of Americans have an understanding a bit beyond Webster’s description. They better comprehend, and are more comfortable with this word, because they have been at war with this genetic mutation their whole life. And I am one of the 15%.
Why did this happen? How come me and not my siblings? I don’t know. But I do know one thing. Although at times mind shatteringly challenging, it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
As I consider my personality, the obstacles I have had to overcome, and the immense amount of effort I have had to put forward, I know that something that has instilled this much strength, creativity, and determination in me could never be a bad thing.
Dyslexia has made me into the strong independent trooper I am today, and I hope that the other 15% of Americans see it this way as well.
My countless hours of tutoring, my recurring feeling of loss, and my constant need to put my best foot forward in order to succeed finally paid off. I went from a fourth grader unable to read the word “supply” to the winner of the Modern Woodmen Oration Contest.
I didn’t just start to succeed in academic classes, but in the Fine Arts as well. My dyslexia drove a passion for crafts, sewing, music, and decorating – like it has in many other dyslexics.
I am changed completely because of this, and I have made a decision to allow myself to fall in love with that fact.
I could be singing the same old “Why me?” song 5 years later.
But instead I am saying, “Why am I so lucky that I am a stronger, more creative woman than I would have been?”
Teachers are amazed at how rapidly Barton students improve — even when they are tutored by a parent, as this mother shared:
Thank you so much for developing this program and your great informational videos and website. Without those, I don’t think my daughter would have been diagnosed and gotten the help she needed.
I am currently working on Level 3 with my daughter. Since starting the Barton System, she has shown tremendous progress! Her teacher told us that in her 13 years of teaching experience, she has never seen a student have this much growth in one year! She credits the program and my commitment to it.
That teacher has been wonderful. She has allowed me to come into the classroom for an hour twice a week to do Barton with my daughter.
By the way, that teacher is now interested in using the Barton System with a few other students she thinks will benefit from it. So that is super exciting!
Jennifer Veras, parent
Jake wrote this as an assignment during his senior year of high school. Both Jake and his mom have given me permission to share this in the hopes that it will inspire other struggling students.
The best thing I have ever done
By Jake Pedersen
I was diagnosed with dyslexia right before I entered seventh grade. I was told that my best option was to go to a reading specialist three times a week for roughly three years.
As a stubborn young kid, I imagined that the tutoring would be a waste of time and that I could get along fine without it.
But as my other classmates continued to thrive in the rigorous middle school I attended, I was stuck being able to only read at about a third grade level.
In seventh grade, I was the slowest reader in my class, and I could not comprehend what I was reading. I knew that something had to change.
As much as I thought that tutoring might be a waste of time, I decided that I should just bite the bullet and go because that was what I needed to do to be able to keep improving in school.
Now that I’m about to graduate from High School, I realize that all of the activities, games, and time with friends I missed to go to tutoring, don’t compare to what I have received from it.
Those three years of work were the best thing I’ve ever done. They helped me get to the point where I am one of the better readers in the class and can keep up with everyone else.
It isn’t always easy to do something that seems like a lot of work, but in the long run, it can open up a million different possibilities.
A Barton Reading & Spelling System Graduate
Andrew has profound dyslexia.
He first wrote his letter of support for California’s dyslexia bill, AB1369, by hand. Then he dictated it into the computer.
Not only is his letter touching, but it proves why technology tools are just as important as tutoring. Here is his dictated letter.
Dear Assembly Member Shannon Grove,
Hi! This is Andrew and I have Dyslexia and Dysgraphia and I am in 5th grade. I am 11 years old.
Dyslexia is a one in five have it. Dyslexia makes it really hard for kids to read and write very well. Dyslexia is not recognized in the public schools and kids are feeling stupid and not very smart or happy.
I know how they feel because I am going through it now. My mom and dad took me to a therapist who said I have dyslexia and dysgraphia. Dyslexia happens in families. My uncle and dad never knew that they had it.
There are times in life when I feel I’m not the smartest kid in my class because I can’t read like the other kids. It is like, I am two grades behind. Sometimes I give up and cry but my family, teachers, and Barton tutor help me keep going.
Mrs. Grove, you can help kids like me learn to read and write by voting yes on AB1369. AB1369 can give kids like me in California the chance to do great things in their classrooms and in life.
Please vote yes on AB1369. We need your help to make this happen!
The photo in this article is his handwritten version.
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
Parents, if your child’s school does not provide the right type of tutoring, then you need to provide it after school.
Some parents hire a professional tutor for the reason this tutor shared:
The Barton System continues to feed my soul. I am so grateful for having this opportunity to witness firsthand how your program changes lives.
A mother was in my living room the other day listening to her son read the stories from Book 3, Lesson 1. He had gotten this far in only 8 sessions with me, yet his school had threatened to retain him in first grade.
His mother started sobbing and shared that in college, she had failed Freshman English seven times. So she finally dropped out. “Why didn’t they have this when I was a child? I could have succeeded,” she cried.
Naturally, I started crying too.
Thank you, Susan, for changing the world!
Many parents tutor their own children using the Barton System with great success, as this mother shared:
I am replying to your email to share with you our joy.
My 10 year old son, Mike, is at the end of level three. Today I told him to read the end-of-the-lesson story aloud by himself, while I checked for your e-mail.
I quietly noticed he was applying the rules, checking for tricky letters, and moving right along – all by himself. Before he finished, he even noticed his fluent reading.
He turned to me and said, “Mom, I can read. This woman (meaning you) understands me!!!”
It was a moment I’ve been praying for. Thank you for all the hard work that you do.
But I get the biggest thrill of all when the parent gets tutoring, as this Barton tutor shared:
Jerry discovered his own dyslexia at age 50, when his son was diagnosed. Jerry shared that he could not physically keep doing logging, but he had always turned down desk jobs because they involved paperwork. He was always coming up with inventions to solve mechanical challenges, but he could not follow through and market them because of his spelling and writing challenges.
So I started tutoring him using the Barton System. He has been getting tutoring 2 to 3 times a week for about a year.
Six months ago, he was hired by a local technology company. Jerry works with the owner designing new products. He is doing well and has received several raises and promotions.
Just last week, he wrote his first letter ever – to his son Frank in boot camp. His son said he cried when he read it. He wrote back to tell his dad that he was his hero!
By the way, the Barton Reading & Spelling System is not the only system that works. For a list of other Orton-Gillingham-based systems that work, click here.
It is best to catch dyslexia early.
But even in high school, it is NOT TOO LATE to greatly improve their skills — which will change their entire future.
A high school student gave me permission to share this talk that he gave at a fund raiser for his private Christian school in Idaho.
My name is Michael Warner and I am the first student at this school to fully complete the Barton Reading & Spelling System.
Before I knew that such a program existed, I endured many different types of special education plans and teachings. All, however, failed. After enduring nine years of mental, emotional, and social abuse due to my dyslexia, I came to this private school.
For the first time, I wasn’t only trying to match my mental capability, but to exceed it. I say this with my own choice of words… with no help whatsoever.
Although I never thought it was possible, I remember dreaming of the day that it would just click and I would just get it…although it was never coming.
Just to give you an idea about how much I have learned from the Barton System, I have in my hand my FCAT scores. For those of you who don’t know, it is the Florida version of the WASL. In reading, I got a one.
According to that score, I had the equivalent reading level of a third grader. I was in the ninth grade when I took this test. A freshman in high school! Tell me that wasn’t emotionally damaging…a third grader! That test told me that in reading and spelling, I was close to mentally retarded.
My public school in Florida would not let me be in college prep classes. They tried to control what I learned so I would become a construction worker because they thought I was too stupid to do anything else. Everything around me told me I would never measure up to anything.
Then I came here. You found out I had dyslexia, and put me in the reading program. Halfway through that program, students were clapping for me in the middle of class because they could see how much I improved. That shows you the spirit of the students at this school.
After two years here, I wanted to become a programmer. So I had to leave and go to Newport High School to take the classes I needed. Do you have any idea what it feels like to finally pursue your own dreams?
So I went to Newport last fall and I took the WASL. One try and I passed everything — reading, writing, everything.
Some students take three or four tries to pass it, and they take special classes in order to pass it. I passed it on the first try.
I’m here to say how much this private school has changed my life. All I can say is thank you. I can finally be who I want to be.
former student at House of the Lord private school
in Oldtown, Idaho
A Certified Barton tutor who recently attended an Advanced Certification session gave me a packet of letters her Barton students had written to me.
I hope these touch your heart as much as they touched mine – and will help you realize that with the right type of tutoring, students with dyslexia can bring their skills up to – and beyond – grade level.
From Matthew, age 10
Thank you for writing the Barton System. You have helped me grow. Thanks to you, I’m now a better speller. I was at below basic on my second grade CST. Now I’m above average on my fourth grade CST.
Gabe, age 17
When I first started tutoring, I could barely read at all. I am now reading high school level textbooks, websites, movie reviews, and more.
Thanks to this program, I passed the high school exit exam the first time – which I thought would never happen.
Samantha, age 12
Tutoring has helped me because I am not in Special Ed anymore.
I used to have trouble reading, but now I can read really good. Last year, I even got a ribbon for reading because I got 100 AR points.
I can now spell words and no longer have to ask someone else how to spell a word.
From Elysia, age 9
My favorite thing about tutoring is reading. Even if I was sick and missed school, I would still want to go to tutoring.
From Chloe, age 9
I used to hate reading, but now I don’t. Now I can catch up in reading with the class, so I’m not the last to finish.
From Aidan, age 9
Barton has helped me in my spelling and reading. I no longer have to pass when the teacher calls on me to read out loud.
Alina, age 12
I am currently on Level 10, Lesson 2, and love it. English is now my favorite subject.
I was so pleased when my teacher decided to have a class spelling bee and I won! I even asked for the origin of the words. I was then picked to represent my school for the ACSI spelling bee.
Scottie, age 15
School has become amazing now that I’ve learned so much. I don’t feel bad anymore when I read or write. I can spell right, and it’s a wonderful feeling.
Bryce, age 25
My aunt was a teacher, and my mom thought she would be able to teach me to read. So she enrolled me in her class.
My aunt had this horrible way of posting grades after every assignment. She would write your name and the grade you got on the board. There were 32 names, and mine was always at the end with a big F – every single week.
I loved my aunt, so that just made it worse.
Then I was put in special ed, and even there, I was at the bottom. People with autism and other disabilities could read better than me. What’s worse is I could comprehend and understand the scope of their disabilities, and I knew I was not like that. But everyone there could read better than me.
I began to think, “I can’t do this. Perhaps I was not meant to learn how to read.”
Now I am 25 years old, and to find a program like this . . . is just amazing. I only wish I could have started this as a child.
I received the following email from a Dyslexia Specialist who is also a Certified Barton tutor.
I am giving an inservice on dyslexia today, so I had to cancel one of my student’s tutoring sessions.
When the child asked me what I was going to be doing, I explained. My student asked if he could give a message to the teachers. I said, “Sure.”
His response was so poignant that I asked a few others this week if they had anything they wanted to say as well. I was surprised just how many had something they wanted to get off their chests!
Below is a sampling of just a few.
JEFFREY, first grade:
If you are going to teach me the way I can’t learn, then I will not learn, and I will be mad and frustrated!
If you teach me the way I can learn, then I will try and try, and try, and try and try so hard, and I will never give up!
ANGELA, second grade:
I would like to tell teachers that struggling is hard.
If you don’t know how to teach me, then find someone who does.
And while they are teaching me, be nice to me! I am trying so hard and I need my teacher to understand that.
DAVID, second grade:
Give me more time to finish my work. I can’t work as fast as the other kids.
Even better would be if you gave me less work. I would still learn, and then I would have time to play.
LISA, ninth grade:
My teacher told the class that I have dyslexia so they would understand why I don’t want anybody else correcting my papers. Do you know what she told them? She said that I had trouble mixing up my Bs and Ds!
Is that really all she thinks dyslexia is? Don’t teachers want to know any more than that?