Susan Barton loves getting letters from graduates of the Barton Reading & Spelling System who then start sharing their story in an effort to change things for other students with dyslexia. Here’s Katherine’s story:
I can and I will. Just watch me.
For years this has been my go-to statement.
You see, in the third grade, I was diagnosed “twice exceptional” having both dyslexia and dysgraphia paired with a high IQ. Up until that point, I couldn’t read a three-letter word. My parents had meeting after meeting with my teachers and were told that I was an underachiever and that I would never be more than a mediocre student. Well, lucky for me, they knew better!
But for most children who suffer from hidden disabilities, there isn’t anyone there to advocate for them. This creates a huge crack for these kids to fall through and most of the time leads to these children becoming statistics. Over forty million Americans have dyslexia and only slightly more than two million are receiving services for their diagnosis.
So many children fall behind in school and ultimately drop out due to the lack of in-depth screening to be able to identify certain markers that could provide early intervention. Had my mother not known that something wasn’t adding up and decided to seek second and third opinions, I have no doubt that I would have been a statistic.
Today I am an all A student and have earned admission into the BETA Club, National Honor Society, and didn’t do too terrible on my first time taking the ACT! Because someone cared enough to advocate for me, I was able to return to school after my diagnosis and not only receive the proper training for my dyslexia, but I was also immediately entered into the gifted class! You cannot imagine what this did for my self-esteem! I was pulled twice a day, once for therapy and once for gifted!
Again, this was because someone believed I could do it! Someone had the insight to know that helping me advance what my brain was good at, as they helped me learn to overcome what my brain wasn’t good at, was going to be the key to my success!
My journey hasn’t always been an easy one and to this day I continue to fight the fight! I want to take this a step further and make sure that once students are diagnosed, they are not hindered by the label.
I have had to fight my way through class scheduling because they didn’t think I could handle certain classes. I had to beg to be put into chemistry in my 10th grade year and promise to give 100% effort. I finished that class with a high A. Had I not pushed for this, I would have never gotten the opportunity to learn in advanced classroom settings, simply because I have been labeled “learning disabled”.
I always have to prove that I can excel greatly if I’m not put into a box and labeled! I believe that once identified, dyslexia becomes a gift instead of a disability! With proper accommodations students can finally realize their potential and begin to focus on the many positive traits that come along with this diagnosis.
I once read a quote saying, “everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by his ability to climb a tree, he will live his whole life believing he’s stupid!” There are seven different types of learners in a classroom: auditory, visual, verbal, logical, physical, social and solitary. Since that’s the case, doesn’t it make sense that there are that many different types of testers? Standardized testing is merely taking a fish and asking him to climb that tree!
I am trying to help bring awareness to this issue by being a student liaison to the Mississippi Department of Education. I am currently a member of the Mississippi State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, serving a two-year term. This role lets me tell my story and offer insight to what I believe will help to identify struggling students, hopefully helping to ultimately lower the dropout rate.
Statistics show that sixty-two percent of non-readers become high school dropouts. I think this is unacceptable and can certainly be helped. I cringe to think of where I might be today, had someone not seen my potential.
I hope my story can be eye opening!
What if you have a student who has the potential to be President of the United States, or a brain surgeon, or cure cancer, but never makes it out of high school because his or her potential was never realized. The accommodations not put into place to see that just because he can’t climb the tree doesn’t mean he can’t swim the ocean!
So many children are out there struggling daily who don’t know their own potential! So many educators and adults who don’t know what they are looking for write us off as underachievers. This has to stop!
I want to ultimately rebrand dyslexia and make the world see who we really are! We are the imaginers, the creators! We are driven and ambitious and persistent — IF we aren’t made to believe we are simply mediocre!
How can we help? Let’s start a discussion!
Most parents dread report card day, as this parent shared:
Yesterday, report cards came out.
In the early years of elementary school, I would dread this day. My heart would sink, and I would end up in floods of tears when I opened my son’s report card. We would not talk to him about his report card. If he asked, we’d say he was doing “fine.”
Yesterday was different. I was excited as I opened his report card because I knew he was doing well in middle school. Sure enough, my hard-working son had made the high honor roll.
I immediately Facetimed him from work to let him know how proud I was of the hard work he put into this achievement.
I am also proud of the hundreds of hours he and I have worked together on the Barton System to get him to this point. We look forward to the day when we’ll finish Level 10, but that is still a couple of years away.
Tutoring him has not been easy because his dyslexia is very severe.
I am sharing this to encourage those who are just starting out tutoring their own children and finding it difficult. Hard work, persistence and dedication pay off !!!
I dread to think what our lives would be like if I had not found the Barton Reading & Spelling System.
A.M. O’Connor, parent
Grandmothers often tutor a grandchild who has dyslexia with great results — as this grandmother shared:
The Barton Reading System is outstanding due to its systematic introduction of new sounds and skills.
The videos are well done, and between that and the excellent teaching manuals, anyone can use this system with success.
And I can’t say enough about your free support and the many free goodies on your tutor support website.
My severely dyslexic grandson went from not being able to read the word “cat” in 3rd grade to handling 7th grade quite confidently.
You have created a miracle in a box!
Patty Drake, grandmother and tutor
Susan Barton loves getting emails from excited parents, like this one:
I have to share a proud mommy moment.
My 8 year old was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia right before he turned 7. He struggled with reading every day.
One day he came home and began to sob. He told me sometimes he gets mad at God for giving him a stupid brain. He said, “I know the right answer in my brain, but the wrong word comes out of my mouth.”
As a teacher, that was hard to hear. As a mom, it was devastating. I had no clue how to help him.
That night, after I dropped him off at karate, I drove straight to a tutoring clinic that specializes in dyslexia. (They use the Barton Reading & Spelling System.) I walked in and proceeded to cry like a fool. The tutor said, “It’s OK. We will help him.”
Fast forward 15 months. My son is reading above grade level, he LOVES to read, and his test scores are out of this world.
I am so proud of him. He is the most dedicated kid I have ever seen. He never complains about tutoring twice a week (even in the summer), and he works hard for the entire 60 minute session.
My son is my HERO. I’m not sure I could have overcome the obstacles of dyslexia. His dedication and determination AMAZES me.
Frankie Humble, parent
Grandparents can play such an important role in helping a grandchild, as this grandmother shared:
I love tutoring my nine-year-old granddaughter remotely with the Barton System. She lives 1,000 miles away, yet I can still help her.
Before Barton, learning to read was a daily struggle for her, and she was often in tears. She was recently diagnosed with severe-to-profound dyslexia.
The Barton System has turned this around for her in just 2 ½ months.
Her parents share that she is now cheerful and looks forward to our online tutoring sessions. Those sessions have brought us closer together.
And her mother recently caught her reading signs at the gas station.
Thank you for developing the Barton System. It’s brilliant.
Joyce Ulshafer, grandmother
Homeschooling children with dyslexia can be a great option. But it’s nice to know that those children can be successful in a public or private school after they have had the right type of tutoring — as this parent shared:
I homeschooled my daughter, who has dyslexia, while taking her through Levels 1 to 8 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System.
She is now 12 and just completed her first year of traditional school.
The Barton System prepared her well, and she thrived in school this year.
She was surprised to find out that she was better at reading aloud than some of her non-dyslexic peers.
We are so grateful to you not only for your program, but for the way you educate and encourage parents and students along the way.
Andrea Sivillo, homeschool parent
Fair Oaks, CA
The right tutor, using the right program, can change everything — as this parent shared:
Hayden was not diagnosed with dyslexia until fifth grade.
Looking back, however, there were signs: family history, hours spent on homework that should have taken less than half the time to complete, trouble memorizing spelling words for the weekly test, not reading at grade level and the most obvious, but missed, was dysgraphia.
Hayden did not verbally communicate his struggles. He just said he hated school. His behavior at school was fine. In fact, the teachers loved him. Where we noticed problems were outbursts of anger and frustration at home and during sports.
So we decided to hit a reset button and pull him from all things not related to school.
We sent him to tutoring at Kumon, which only made things worse because he was sent home with lots more work to complete.
We also made him practice handwriting for a half an hour a day, which again, only made things worse.
I had a friend who was certified to test for dyslexia and after talking with her and having him tested, she confirmed Hayden was dyslexic. She had a list of recommendations.
On the top of her list was getting Hayden into tutoring with the Barton Reading & Spelling System, and Kelly Christian was the tutor she recommended.
When we met with Kelly, she was not only super sweet and personable, but she really knew what we were struggling with.
Hayden began tutoring with Kelly two times a week in June 2016. She made tutoring fun, and they developed a great relationship. He did not fight going, and we started to see positive changes right away. His grades started to improve and so did his attitude.
Using the new techniques Kelly showed him, Hayden started reading again and was even able to understand why words are spelled the way they are and how to break them down into the smaller root word.
He completed the 10 level program in just under 3 years, in March 2019.
Hayden is a different student now. He understands what he’s learning and doesn’t hate school.
By showing him the reasons why, and the different tricks we dyslexics can use to learn and remember, Hayden is back at grade level and ready for high school.
Kari Carlson, parent
San Clemente, California
Susan Barton loves hearing from parents who take action right away, as this parent did:
My daughter had neuropsych testing done 3 1/2 years ago. She was diagnosed with dyslexia.
I researched and found a Barton tutor a month later.
We have worked tirelessly year round for the last 3 1/2 years. She is now in the middle of Level 8.
My daughter was recently retested by that neuropsych. The doc was STUNNED at her reading ability. He said it is very rare to see a child jump that drastically in their reading skills — and whatever I’m doing, keep it up!
Thank you, Susan, for creating the Barton System.
It is never too late to close the gap, as this homeschool parent shared:
We homeschooled our five children with ease — until we got to our fourth child. We knew Daniel was not learning like his siblings. By the time he was 8, his 6-year-old sister was reading circles around him.
When Daniel was 10, we sought professional help. But he was mistakenly identified as having an eye tracking disorder. The tracking exercises did nothing to improve his reading.
At 14, we finally had him tested by an educational psychologist who said Daniel was severely dyslexic, something we suspected, but did not comprehend. His reading score was at the 3rd grade level.
We immediately hired a tutor using the Barton System. Daniel made significant progress in a short time and grew in both his reading skills and his self-confidence.
At 16, he started his first college class and has since been dual enrolled, completing 30 college credits. With accommodations, including audio books and extended test time, he’s been very successful — averaging an A in the past 5 semesters of coursework!
At 17, he passed his written driver’s test at 85% without accommodations — a huge milestone for him!
We are so thankful for the Barton System, and we look forward to seeing his future accomplishments as he graduates high school and continues on to college.
Susan Barton loves seeing Facebook posts from teachers, like this one:
I highly recommend the Barton Reading & Spelling System. It has made the difference for so many students at our school.
A side benefit is that I, as the resource teacher, have learned so much about English reading and spelling rules, too.
The manuals are precise and explicit, so if you follow them with fidelity, your students will progress and make amazing improvements.
My highest group is just finishing Level 4. It teaches vowel teams, but my students especially loved learning the syllabication rules.
I wish everyone could have seen their surprise and amazement when they realized they did not have to guess at long words anymore — and that they could actually decode words by following rules. This level is the game changer.
I’m so grateful that Susan Barton painstakingly developed this program to provide every child an opportunity to learn to read!!!
Patricia James, Resource Teacher
St. Edward Catholic School
Little Rock, AR