Diagnosed at 14
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.
Never in 30 years
I would like share how very impressed I am with the Barton System.
As a Special Education teacher with more than three decades of teaching experience, I have used many different reading programs over the years. But I have never before encountered anything as comprehensive as your system. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into developing a true quality product.
The difference it is making for my dyslexic students is really impressive. Their reading and spelling skills, plus general self-esteem, grow visibly with each tutoring session.
I love using your program!
The Open Door Educational Services
It took until 5th grade . . .
It should not take this long but sadly, it often does, as this parent shared:
We started our journey in first grade, when our daughter’s teacher shared that she was not grasping reading concepts as fast as she should. I was shocked because I had read to her since she was a baby, and books were a big part of our home.
For the rest of that school year, we spent many long, tearful evenings trying to teach her the sight words. We would go over and over and over them, but she could not retain them.
We also spent at least two hours every night doing homework, and practicing her reading.
Despite that, at the beginning of third grade, she was only reading 27 words per minute – which was at the bottom of her class.
She also struggled with spelling. I got her list several days early, so we would have extra time to learn the words. It did not help.
Over the years, the teachers said, “It will click one of these days,” or “She is young for her grade,” and “You are doing all the right things at home.” Yet year after year, she spent many long, tearful nights doing homework.
When I asked if she might have a learning disability, the answer was always, “No.”
In fifth grade, we hit a wall. That year, she spent four to five hours a week studying her spelling words – just to get a D.
She also got a D in Social Studies, even though I read the textbook out loud to her, because her vocabulary was way behind.
She began to have problems with her peers, partly due to her very low self-esteem.
At the end of some of our homework battles, she began to say she should be dead because she was useless. She stayed up late every night due to anxiety, and she developed depression. We knew we had to do something, but we did not know the cause of her academic struggles.
Then a friend at a party suggested she might have dyslexia. Our life changed that very day.
We decided to homeschool, which our daughter had been begging us to do since first grade, and we began using the Barton System as our language arts curriculum.
I have watched her grow into an amazing person.
I will never forget the day she started reading road signs out loud.
When she finished Level 6, I shared she could now start reading textbooks on her own. For her social studies assignment, there was a five page story to read, then an outline to complete, and comprehension questions to answer. She proudly completed all of it by herself. That was a HUGE self-esteem boost, and it has shown up in all areas of her life.
She now reads books for fun, and she is finally understanding how to spell words.
Homeschool is getting less time consuming as her vocabulary grows because we don’t have to explain as many words before we move forward. She is also better able to recall terms and ideas.
Only a year and a half ago, she was labeled “functionally illiterate.”
I can not thank you enough, Susan Barton, for saving my daughter and bringing my family such peace and happiness!
Please feel free to share our story to bring hope to other families who are still struggling.
Sturgeon Lake, MN
Why I Homeschool
Words cannot express my gratitude for all you do for children with dyslexia.
I contacted you last fall when I was having difficulties with my two children in school. Your patience, gentleness and compassion gave me the hope that my children would be OK, and you gave me the courage to take their education into my own hands.
I read everything I could on your website, all of your links, your newsletters, and everything everyone posted. I came to realize that my children would not reach their full potential in a traditional school environment until after they completed the Barton System.
So my husband and I purchased a 20’ x 12’ shed with a loft. We turned it into a one room school house, where I spend every day educating 2 of my 4 children. We use the same curriculum that the school they previously attended uses, plus 45 minutes of individual Barton tutoring, 5 days a week.
The day we brought our children home, we made this video for our own personal benefit. I had watched and loved “Sophia’s Fight Song,” and I wanted my children to have a video like that of their own.
The progress they have made in just 7 months is truly astonishing! So today, we made a second video. If you watch them both, the progress they’ve made is undeniable.
I have NO regrets on taking your advice to do it myself at home. I have NO regrets for deciding to home school, and I have NO regrets that a 20’ x 12’ shed is sitting in my backyard instead of the built-in pool we had been saving for.
We have time again to laugh, play, and have fun! We had lost that for a little while to tears, arguments, and the frustration of (not) learning while trying to complete endless worksheets that did not make sense.
My husband and I thank you, my children thank you, and I know we are just one of many families who have been blessed by you.
Kimm Pasmore, Homeschool Parent
Spring Hill, FL
P.S. I never intended to show these videos to anyone outside of family. But so many friends have asked about my children and their progress, and I felt like they did not believe me when I told them how far my kids have come. So now I show them these two videos, and they can see it for themselves.
Support Our Dyslexia Bill
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.
I married two of them
Wives know how talented their dyslexic husbands are – as well as how often their dyslexia has held them back in their careers, as this wife shares:
After attending your presentation, I am sure my ex-husband is dyslexic. He is an exceptionally good mechanic and handyman, gardener, and farmer. And he has the ability to visualize things that I cannot. But he also did very poorly in school.
When I shared parts of your presentation with my current husband (yes, I married another dyslexic), he opened up and shared more about his struggles. He is a classic example of the adult who did not advance in his career because of his dyslexia.
He is a social worker. He abbreviates his clinical notes so that he does not have to use big words that he cannot spell.
He never learned to keyboard, so he uses the “hunt and peck” method, which greatly slows him down.
He has to re-read technical reports numerous times to comprehend them. He cannot sound out unknown words.
Yet he has superb people skills. He has been Employee Of The Year more than once, and he is highly respected.
He would make an excellent supervisor, but he refuses to apply for that position because of his reading, spelling, and writing difficulties.
He tries to hide his difficulties. He never offers to read Scripture in our Sunday School class, and he tries to avoid being called on.
He constantly mispronounces multi-syllable words.
He appreciates that I am patient when he asks how to spell a word he must write on a check when paying the bills, or when he asks for help when he tries to read the newspaper.
Trying to make a difference
Special Ed teachers are so frustrated with the school system that they often leave and become private tutors, as this one shared in a recent email:
Susan, I have a real passion for the students who don’t catch on to reading and spelling when taught using regular curriculum.
In fact, that’s why I switched from being a regular ed teacher to a special ed teacher. I attended several Orton-Gillingham workshops and seminars, and I bought the first few Barton levels with my own money to use with my LD students.
For the past 2 years, I taught Barton as best I could within the special ed system – and got some fabulous results. My principal was amazed at the increased reading levels of my students.
But with all the “red tape” and political stuff we have to deal with, the special ed system does not allow me to do what I am I really passionate about: meeting each student’s individualized needs.
I am not allowed to spend enough time, with the correct resources, in a small enough group to help my students become the best they can be.
Sadly, I know I cannot change the special ed system. So I have decided to leave and start offering one-on-one Barton tutoring.
I know not every parent will be able to afford to hire me. But I would rather serve a few children well, so they reach their potential, then continue to serve many students poorly.
Wish me luck. This is a big leap of faith, and quite a change for me. But it’s the only way I can do what I’m passionate about: helping these bright kids the right way.
The Barton System saved my daughter’s life
I love when parents take the time to send me their child’s success story, like this one:
You must get hundreds of messages like this. But I can’t wait to share that my severely dyslexic daughter, who is now in Level 9 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System, just received the Duke TIP recognition award for scoring at the 97th percentile in Language Arts on her Stanford Achievement Test.
Wow! Let that sink in for a moment….
My bottom of the curve, “you need to read to her more” child – who hated school and had to repeat second grade — now devours her school work, and scores in the “Above Average” range, not only in Language Arts, but also in Science and Social Studies.
She LOVES to read now, and she writes the most incredible stories.
When I bring up dyslexia at our parent teacher conferences, most teachers respond with wide eyes and disbelief. They can’t believe she has dyslexia because she is one of their top students.
“But it’s documented in her file. It’s severe. She has an IEP,” I remind them. Sometimes I need to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.
Last spring, she was 1 of only 7 students in the entire 4th grade who, on the last day of school, successfully passed the “4th Grade Challenge” to correctly spell and identify all 50 states on a map.
She also received an award and prize for the highest cumulative score on all of her spelling tests.
I am so lucky that her worried grandma found the Barton Reading & Spelling System online 3 years ago, and had the courage to order Level 1 and get started. By the end of my daughter’s first week of tutoring, we could tell that Barton was helping her – where everything else we had tried had failed. And she has continued to make great progress.
My daughter is so proud. She openly shares how much Barton tutoring has helped her.
I get teary-eyed just writing this email. What a difference the Barton System, carefully taught by a worried grandma, has made in my child’s life.
I can’t thank you enough.
Judy Stone-Collins, parent and now a
Certified Barton Tutor
New Orleans, LA
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.
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.
Not eligible for special education
Many children with dyslexia will not be eligible for special education services – not even if a parent brings in a diagnostic report.
In that case, fight hard for classroom accommodations – and get the right type of help after school.
This parent did not do that – and regrets it.
Dyslexia runs in my family tree. My father, who is 60, can still remember being in second grade and having the teacher call him up to the front of the class to read out loud. The teacher would force him to stand there and “do it until you get it right” – despite him crying in front of the entire class.
I have a degree in Elementary Education, but we never had a single solitary course – not even a single lecture – on dyslexia.
Yet when my daughter struggled in kindergarten, her teacher suggested the possibility of dyslexia because:
- On DIBELS, she was not meeting benchmarks in nonsense word reading
- She had terrible spelling and could not retain her spelling words — not even the high frequency words like “some”
- She already had 2 years of speech therapy for R’s and L’s, but was not improving
- She constantly confused left and right
- And she still could not tie her shoes
At end of first grade, I asked the school to test her for a possible learning disability. The school said they wouldn’t test her until at least 3rd grade.
So during second grade, when she was not making progress in Tier 2 of RTI, I hired a highly qualified private professional to test her. She was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe dyslexia.
But when I shared that report with the school psychologist, he stated that dyslexia does not exist, that Susan Barton’s website was not a valid resource, and we could not even get a 504 Plan because he felt our daughter did not need it. He claimed she displayed no difficulties and would prove to be a good student.
Her teachers and even the principal were at that meeting, and they went along with the psychologist’s assessment – leaving us to wonder if we really knew what we were talking about.
We were so confused that we decided to follow the school’s advice — and regret it.
Our daughter is now at the end of third grade. Despite another year of phonics instruction and more RTI, she still struggles with spelling, sounding out longer words, and cannot comprehend her science textbook when she reads it herself. (But she has no trouble comprehending it when I read it TO her.)
The school did eventually test her, but her scores were not low enough to qualify for Special Ed services. And her report card grades are not too bad. She gets low B’s or C’s.
We have shown our daughter’s diagnostic report to other dyslexia professionals and organizations, and they have all agreed that she definitely does have dyslexia.
So what do I do now?