Tag Archives: gifted areas

Start now. Don’t Wait.

I am thrilled when parents follow my advice – and then let me know,  years later, what impact it had on their children, as this parent did. 

Susan Barton saves lives daily. She is one of the lights in the dyslexia world because she cares, and like the dyslexic people she helps, she FINDS A WAY to get things done.

I love and respect Susan Barton for all she has done for our family. I homeschooled my gifted and profoundly dyslexic sons using the Barton Reading & Spelling System.

highschoolbros

They are now in high school, earning college credits. One is captain of the Lacrosse team. They have started a mentoring program in their high school for kids who are dyslexic, and they are a part of a Teacher Training program at the university.

They are alive, thriving, and making an impact on the world because Susan Barton took the time to talk with me, encourage me, and provide me with the tools necessary for my children to reach their FULL potential.

Her system is solid. It is accessible to the uncertain, untrained, confused, scared parent who wants their child to soar.

START NOW.  DON’T WASTE ANOTHER MINUTE !

I followed that advice from Susan Barton, and now as the founder of Decoding Dyslexia Montana, and a trained advocate, speaker, teacher trainer, and tutor, I preach the same. START NOW . . . regardless of what the school does or does not do.

Take care of your child.

Kelly Fedge-Dubose, Founder
Decoding Dyslexia Montana

My Dyslexia Story

This email, which was sent to me by a homeschooling parent in Florida, touched my heart.  

Our story begins when my son, Larry, was in kindergarten. He missed out on play time because he struggled to identify letters and their sounds.

In first grade, sight words caused him to miss play time.

In second grade, timed reading and math became 75% of his grade. Third grade would bring the FCAT. I was told if a student cannot read 150 words a minute, they probably would not be able to finish that test.

So we homeschooled Larry in third grade. We also asked the public school to test him. They said he had ADHD. But by then, I had been homeschooling for half a year and I felt that probably was not true. So I hired a private psychologist to test him. It turns out our son had “classic dyslexia.”

Homeschool Video

Homeschool continued through 3rd and 4th grade. Although I slowed everything down, I continued using the same curriculum – but it wasn’t working. Larry was extremely frustrated. By 5th grade, he and I were at our wits end. Shortly after starting the school year, Larry broke down and said he was stupid and wanted to kill himself. That still brings tears to my eyes.

On that very day, I knew I had to find an answer. So I got on the computer and started frantically searching for a way to teach my son. I decided to go to a message board for parents with dyslexic kids. The ONLY thing they were talking about was the Barton Reading & Spelling System – which level they were finishing, and who had the next one.

Right then and there, I googled Susan Barton. I watched your video on dyslexia that was on your website. I was overcome with emotion as I listened to you talk about your story and heard your passion for dyslexic kids. You were the first person who explained dyslexia in detail, both its weaknesses and STRENGTHS. I called Larry in to listen to part of it and I told him, “This is who you are. You are a brilliant and amazing boy to have learned as much as you have – despite the way I am teaching you.”

You promised that with the Barton System, my son would read at or above grade level and his spelling would improve, and I believed you.

Needless to say, homeschool has not been the same. Larry is now a 7th grader, is in Level 6 of the Barton System, and now believes that he can go to college and excel.

Thank you. Susan. I am forever grateful that you have become an important part of Larry’s life and education.

As this parent shared, “slower and louder” will not work for a child who has dyslexia.

To hear Susan Barton’s advice for homeschool parents who use (or are thinking about using) the Barton Reading & Spelling System, watch my free on-line presentation by clicking on the following link:
http://www.bartonreading.com/index.html#homeschool

By the way, that presentation also contains useful advice for parents thinking about homeschooling.

Why can’t people spell?

Originally posted by
The Dyslexia Project and Decoding Dyslexia – AR

When Leann sent this to me, I decided to post it. I hope someone might hold their head a little higher today, and that someone else might learn to look at the world in a different way.  

Leann Hammett wrote:

From time to time, I see people post ramblings saying things like, “Why can’t people spell?” “Learn the difference between your and you’re, or between to, too and two.” These ramblings initially made me angry, but not anymore. I am here to educate you.

spell-final

Have you stopped to think that if someone could spell correctly, that they would? Use spell check you say. That is easy for you, isn’t it? You see, there is a reason people don’t “just get it,” spell poorly, and don’t use correct grammar. It’s called dyslexia. For someone with dyslexia, it isn’t easy at all. Their brains are wired differently than yours.

If you read something that someone wrote with poor spelling, let it go. This person has communicated their thoughts in writing. You got the meaning. Love them for that. Accept them for that. How brave of them to put themselves out there knowing it probably isn’t spelled correctly.

If you are in a professional environment, offer to proofread and help out. Build them up. Give them confidence. And don’t complain about it. They can read what you say when you post your ramblings. Your words are hurtful. And quite frankly, make you look bad.

These people are the greatest inventors, actors, musicians, authors. (Google famous dyslexics. I dare you.) Like you, (You know, the ones who are complaining) I am left-brained. What do I have to offer? I can proofread your work and spell. Oh man, can I spell! And I LOVE grammar! It excites me!

What do they have to offer? They make the world go around. They think outside of the box. They invent, create, entertain, and run businesses. What a boring world it would be if we were all left-brained. We could sit around and proofread each other’s writing. But instead, we have brilliant people who use their magnificent brains for things that we couldn’t possibly come up with.

Instead of criticizing them, you should be thankful for them.

I am thankful for a father-in-law who is a poor speller because he can fix anything.

I am thankful for a husband who is a poor speller because he can imagine a project in the beginning phase as it will look completely finished.

I am thankful for a son who is a poor speller because he can help me hear a song made by the rain drops and who can write poetry in a snap.

I am thankful for them because they have erased my ignorance. I know how brilliant they are and that it does not matter how they spell or how slowly they read.

Spelling and grammar is NOT a sign of intelligence. But your judgment of their spelling and grammar is a sign of your ignorance.

 

Why I support homeschooling

Most homeschool parents do not know any more about dyslexia than teachers. But homeschool parents tend to focus on their child’s strengths while they continue to search for answers – as this mom shared.

I have homeschooled all 3 of my children, one of whom is severely dyslexic. It has been wonderful to be able to tutor my son in the Barton System while making every accommodation he needs to excel in all subjects.

Though he struggled with reading and writing for years before we found the Barton System, we always focused on his strengths, so he has never felt like he wasn’t as smart as others. Quite the contrary. He has excelled in math – completing high school geometry in 7th grade, and he is a history buff. He is also in a high school level literature discussion group (he listens to the books on audio), and he is involved in sports and theater.

My other two children are not dyslexic, so he has no qualms at all about asking his little brother or older sister how to spell a word now and then. To him, being dyslexic is really no different than someone being a faster or slower runner, taller or shorter, blue eyes or brown eyes, etc.

I am incredibly thankful to Susan Barton for giving so much of her time to present lectures on dyslexia. I went to one of her free presentations at my local public library about 4 years ago, and it literally changed our lives. I suddenly realized what was going on with my son, and shortly thereafter, had him diagnosed with dyslexia and started tutoring him with the Barton System.

To hear Susan Barton’s advice for homeschool parents (or those who are thinking about homeschooling), watch her free 30-minute on-line presentation by clicking on the following link:

http://www.bartonreading.com/index.html#homeschool

 

As a Teacher and a Mother

This long post is worth reading — especially with school starting in just one month.

Dear Susan,

My husband and three children have dyslexia.

I also teach at the local public school. Recently, during a lunch break in the staff lounge, a high school teacher shared that when she has to teach reading to her students, she has them read “baby books.” When the students ask why, she tells them, “Because you did not learn to read when you were supposed to.”

At that point I left the room, and cried. I was so hurt by what she said. At the time I could not talk about it without crying. (I still can’t). So I wrote this letter. Please share it in your book.

Dear Colleague,

What an inspiring discussion the teachers were having at lunch today. I enjoyed hearing about, and sharing, how hard our students have been working. I am not sure if you noticed, but there came a point when I stopped talking. Probably not, since there was so much going on in the staff lounge. I would like to share with you the reason that I shut down.

You began talking about one of your students. You shared your frustration that she is not reading at grade level. You said her atrocious writing is filled with spelling errors of simple words, like they and does, which she spells t-h-a-y and d-o-s-e. There are no capitals at the beginning of her sentences, and rarely is there any punctuation. Her handwriting is so sloppy that you can barely make out the words that she somehow managed to spell correctly. On top of that, she does not know her basic math facts and can’t get through a majority of the problems you assign, despite the fact that you just spent an hour teaching that lesson to the class.

You wondered why her parents did not care enough to work with her nightly. Surely her spelling and math would improve if they would just make her practice every night. You mentioned how lazy she is, how she could care less about the quality of her work, and how she puts forth zero effort towards improving.

You claimed you had tried everything and you do not know what to do with her anymore, so you will probably just end up passing her to the next grade level like all the other teachers have done.

Believe me, I understand your frustrations. It is difficult working with students like this. If they would just try harder, they would improve. Right?

I would like to introduce you to my daughter. She is excited to be entering high school this year. She is beautiful, polite, responsible, funny, caring . . . I could go on and on.

She participates in 4-H and showed her pig this year at the fair. She made over seven hundred dollars. She put some of the money into her savings account. Some will be used to purchase her next pig, and she can’t wait to go shopping and buy her own school clothes and school supplies with the remaining money.

She also participates in gymnastics, which she started when she was 18 months old.

When children are around her, they gravitate towards her. She loves to take care of babies and toddlers.

She enjoys preparing delicious food for others. Perhaps you would like to come to our home one evening. She will prepare her Pizza Chicken for dinner and Gelato for desert. She really is a great teenager.

Yet my daughter is scared and anxious about starting high school this year. She has dyslexia, and as a result, she is not reading at grade level. Her creative writing is filled with spelling errors of simple words, like they and does, which she spells t-h-a-y and d-o-s-e. There are no capitals at the beginning of her sentences, and rarely is there any punctuation. Her handwriting on school work is so sloppy because she does not want her teachers and classmates to see that she has trouble spelling.

On top of that, she does not know her basic math facts and can’t get through a majority of the problems assigned to her, even though her teacher just spent an hour teaching the lesson.

You wonder why her parents do not care enough to work with her nightly. Surely her spelling and math would improve if they would just make her practice every night.

I love my daughter more than you can imagine. But I no longer force her to practice math flashcards or to write the weekly spelling words over and over every night. I know it will not help her. She will be able to memorize them temporarily, but believe me, she will not remember them the next day.

I know that she puts her brain to the test every day by concentrating so much that it often makes her feel sick. I know that she has put herself down all day long while in school and that she needs to build herself back up at night, so she can go through the same ordeal the next day.

Those are the reasons I no longer fight the “homework wars” every night. Instead, I enjoy the evening with my daughter as she cares for her pigs and rabbits, and as she does front handsprings across the yard.

Children do not want to, or choose to, have dyslexia. They want to learn. They are very frustrated that they can not learn to read like their classmates, that their spelling never seems to turn out right, that they can not memorize their math facts, and that they get lost in multiple step math problems. They can not try any harder than they already do because their brain will not let them.

As a teacher, I understand your frustrations. It is difficult working with students like this. I regret having made some of the same comments as you in the past. I never imagined that I would be the mother of a child with a learning disability. After all, I am a teacher.

As a mother, I am begging you to hang in there and not give up on your students, because if you do, you will be giving up on my daughter. They need you.

So please, let me be the mother who loves my daughter and encourages her to discover all she is capable of, and you be the teacher that encourages her and allows her to show what she is capable of.

Sincerely,

A Mother who is also a School Teacher

 

Say No to Summer School

Many parents send me questions like this at the end of a school year:

I have a daughter who just finished first grade. I am pretty sure she has dyslexia.

The last two months of school have been a nightmare of real and feigned sickness and tears every day as she tries to get out of going to school.

Jane struggles so much and ends her day so sad and frustrated due to journal writing, or even worse, having to copy poems from the board. What makes it even worse for her is seeing every other kid at her table do it faster and better.

My daughter’s school is recommending summer school. My worry is that their summer school is not going to help her – and it may make her hate school even more.

Most summer school programs just teach the very same reading program your child got during the school year, which will not help someone with dyslexia.

Summer School

So I tell parents to say “no” to summer school, and instead, get your child the right type of tutoring – with the Barton System or any other good Orton-Gillingham based system — for an hour a day, every day, during the summer.

If you do not, second grade will be even worse – as this mother shared:

I am the mother of an extremely bright, frustrated, and sad 8 year old girl.

We have been struggling to find answers to her troubles within the school system.
Everyone knows she is very smart, but her written work reflects the exact opposite. She cannot spell or get ideas into written form.

The teacher claims she just needs to study harder, or she is just being a “difficult” child.

My daughter overheard her tell the principal that my daughter is “unteachable.”

Kids bully her and refer to her as “dumb” and “stupid.” This is so far from reality.

She is extremely articulate, has a wonderful imagination, loves information, and thinks things through very carefully. I want her to aspire to all that she can be. She is so bright and so interested in the world.

But if I don’t find some answers soon, she is going to fall through the cracks and continue on this downward spiral.

And by third grade, they all hit the wall in reading development, as this mom shared:

I must say that your video is superb! I cried a lot as you described my son. I wish teachers and administrators were required to watch it – as I’m sure my son would have been caught much earlier, and that would have saved him (and us) a lot of anxiety and stress.

For the past two years (during first and second grade) school became such a stressor that my husband and I not only looked forward to the summer break, but we would get start to get anxiety attacks in August . . . realizing school was about to start again. I’m sure whatever we were feeling was 10 times worse for our son.

My son just started 3rd grade and I can see that brick wall before us. He can read, but his reading speed is so slow. It took us 2.5 hours to get through 16 pages of a small chapter book last night.

By fourth grade, they often qualify for special ed. But that doesn’t make school any better – as this parent shared.

My son is in 4th grade. He has dyslexia. He is a special ed student.

His regular ed teacher is so ignorant of dyslexia. She wants my son to participate in a 4th grade spelling bee because she wants to “challenge” him.

My son is terrified and traumatized at the thought of standing up in front of his classmates and being humiliated – again.

Without the right type of one-on-one tutoring, they will be stuck forever at the third grade reading level, as this mother shared:

My son is in 7th grade, but his reading fluency and comprehension have been stuck at the 3rd grade level for years – despite years of special ed services, and despite my following their advice of forcing him to read out loud to me for 20 minutes every day.

When he passed 6th grade, I was thrilled because newspapers, magazines, and job applications are written at the 6th grade level. So we bought a box of brownie mix to celebrate. I was crushed when he could not read the cooking instructions on the box.

And adults who were forced to go to summer school when they were kids know it never helped, as this adult shared:

I have dyslexia.

My early school years were horrible. No one knew what to do with me, so they just passed me through each year.

But I had to attend summer school EVERY summer. I hated it, and it never helped.

I grew up thinking I must be stupid because it took so much time to read, study and retain information.

I am pretty sure my 7 year old daughter has dyslexia, too. I see so much of myself in her. She is struggling with reading and has started saying that she hates school.

I will do anything to prevent the torture I went through as a child from happening to her.

So, parents, if you know or suspect your child has dyslexia, just say “no” to summer school. Get them the right type of tutoring instead.

Finally accepted by the public schools

Often, a public school has to see 2 or 3 students they have given up on succeed, by getting the right type of tutoring after school, before they will partner with those tutors and accept dyslexia, as this parent shared.

My husband is dyslexic and all 3 of my kids are as well – to varying degrees. My oldest daughter (who is severely dyslexic) is now in 7th grade and has made high honor roll once again!

This is the same child who was minimized by her teacher in 1st grade, who told me that she would never read above a 3rd grade level, if that, and that she would ALWAYS struggle. But that teacher was wrong.

McKeighla is about to start Level 9 of the Barton System. Her confidence, and her ability to “own” her strengths and weaknesses, have become an inspiration to her teachers and her peers.

Our small community has embraced my tutoring services, and the school district has now become a wonderful support to both my daughter, and myself, as I daily pull students from their classroom to tutor privately, on the public school campus, during school hours. Each and every student that I work with (all 13 of them) have shown tremendous growth. At first, some teachers claimed their improving scores were just “a fluke.” But now their improving scores are known as “Barton scores.”

This past year, I opened an office in Mount Vernon and work there 2 days a week. I have students who travel from as far north as the Canadian border, and as far south as Seattle. And we are starting a dyslexia support group for parents in Skagit Valley.

The passion and drive I feel for these kiddos, and for this field, reaches the bottom of my soul. So thank you, Susan, for pioneering a way for parents to get involved, for empowering us with the knowledge to make a difference, and for all your support which allows us to be courageous and confident.

Sommer Holt
Certified Barton Tutor and Dyslexia Specialist in La Conner, WA
http://www.SkagitDyslexia.com

If you cannot afford testing . . .

If you cannot afford testing, do what this mom did.[audio https://brightsolutionsdyslexia.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/if-you-cannot-afford-testing.mp3]

My son had always struggled with reading. I knew something was not quite right but never could figure it out. I asked his first grade teacher if it could be dyslexia. She assured me it was not, and she was not worried about his reading. She was concerned about his lack of focus.

But at the beginning of 3rd grade, one of the items on my son’s school supply list was an NIV Bible. I bought it . . . and cried. I knew he could not read it, not even close. He could not even read the children’s Bible we had at home. He was CLEARLY far behind, and it was much more than just being distracted.

So I started to do some research on the computer. Why could he read a word in one sentence but not the next? Why were all his words missing vowels?  Why couldn’t he sound out words? He had plenty of phonics instruction.  Why did a clock baffle him so much? Why was he still reversing letters and had handwriting that looked like he was just learning to print?

I found your website. There it was! I could check off about 95% of the symptoms. My son had dyslexia!!

Yet when I shared this with my son’s school, they were skeptical and encouraged us to get formal testing because they did not think it was his issue. But the cost of professional testing was high. We had to decide which was more important: get a diagnosis (knowing his school did not have the right type of help) or skip that and go directly to the solution.

We chose to get the Barton Reading & Spelling system so I could tutor him myself.

We have now been using it for 2 years, after school twice a week, and we are half way through Level 7.

Recently, we had to miss church. So I encouraged my boys to read a Bible story and I pulled out our children’s Bible that I knew my son could now read. Instead, he pulled out his NIV Bible, that same Bible I wept over 2 years ago, the same one I feared my son would never be able to read. He opened it up and read aloud while his 3 younger brothers listened.

He enjoys reading now, and his fifth grade teacher has never mentioned “lack of focus” or “not being prepared.” Instead, she talks about my son’s amazing “writer’s voice,” and his grades are all A’s and B’s.

My son embraces his dyslexia. We do not romanticize it or deny that it makes things hard for him. But he knows that the brain differences that gave him grief with his reading and spelling . . . are the same brain differences that created his amazing imagination, his fantastic building skills, and his love of music.

Thank you, Susan, for the work you do. It has clearly changed my son’s life.

What a great teacher

This heartwarming email from a parent made my day.[audio https://brightsolutionsdyslexia.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/what-a-great-teacher.mp3]

I want to share something amazing about my son who was recently diagnosed with dyslexia.

This morning his teacher stopped me to tell me what an intuitive student he was. She said his character is well beyond his years and that it never wavers. She also said he is such a beneficial member of his class because of his compassion and ability to self reflect, and that he has basically set the standard for the class with his global “out of the box” thinking.

When my son was recently diagnosed with dyslexia, I did a lot of research. I found the information on your website about the strengths of dyslexics. That teacher was mentioning many of those strengths.

So I was beaming with pride when I told her of his diagnosis.

Thank you for sharing how children with dyslexia are special. It was nice to hear confirmation of what I have always thought of my son — and I now know why he is so special. He’s dyslexic.

Tutoring is only half the answer

Parents ask why I often state that private schools (such as Montessori, Waldorf, Christian, Catholic or Jewish schools) can be better places for children with dyslexia than public schools.

Private schools often do not know any more about dyslexia than public schools, but they are much more willing to provide free simple classroom accommodations — which are as critical as the right type of tutoring.

A parent of a child in a public school recently sent me a BCC of this email that she sent to her child’s teacher.

Dear Mrs. Smith:

It is 1:45 a.m. and I am not sleeping . . . again.

I am frustrated and hoping for your help.

I waited a few days since Lynn’s IEP meeting before writing this.

I do not want to come off as unreasonable or angry. But I cannot help but feel like the last 2-3 months of the school’s assessments were a massive exercise in futility. I came into the IEP meeting assuming that we were finally going to get Lynn some help and put some modifications and accommodations in place.

Instead . . . well, you were there. We simply restated what had already been established 2 years ago: Lynn is a bright little girl who does not qualify for special education help. I get that. I got that 2 years ago. My question is: what next?

I have spent countless hours and thousands of dollars getting Lynn officially diagnosed. I am paying to have her tutored after school by a Certified Barton tutor. I just need a 504 Plan put into place so we can get some simple free classroom accommodations.

I have been requesting that since the first day of school. It is now March. March !!!

I am more than willing to do my part. I will redouble my efforts to find support outside of school. But how do we get some classroom accommodations?

Compare that to this email from a parent whose child attends a private Christian school.

My son was formally diagnosed with moderate dyslexia in third grade — after a teacher at his private Christian school suggested dyslexia might be the cause of his struggles.

Timmy has hated school with a passion ever since he started Kindergarten. He would wake up every day crying, banging his pillow, and begging not to go to school, saying the work was “just too hard.”

Daily homework assignments went on with hours, and I mean hours, with temper tantrums, constant tears, anger and frustration beyond the roof as I am sure you can imagine.

Before school, Timmy’s personality had always been quiet, content and a deep thinker. You can imagine my horror to see his wonderful demeanor turn into such anger and frustration as each school season progressed.

He had all the early signs of dyslexia, but of course, we never knew what we were looking at. He went through school as this very angry, frustrated child, until finally, his third grade teacher recognized a very obvious problem, and led us to what he so desperately needed.

I am so thankful that he goes to a private school.  Although legally, they do not have to provide accommodations or intervention, his school feels a moral obligation to provide both.

I am starting to see Timmy’s anger and frustration level drop as his reading and spelling is getting better, thanks to his Barton tutoring.

Homework time has become a million times better, thanks to the accommodations he is entitled to when needed.

His creativity is also flourishing. I am blown away by what he understands or creates out of his own observations.

He also has an amazing maturity well beyond his years, and his incredible insight to see and understand things is jaw dropping.

Parents, if your child’s public school refuses to provide accommodations, consider moving your child to a more flexible private school.

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