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
I love it when tutors get this excited about their students’ success.
My students have been in Barton for about a year. Their teachers are excited by the improvement in their reading and spelling.
But I love their new feelings of self-worth and confidence.
Teachers share that my students now participate in class discussions on a variety of topics — something they did not do before.
Parents share their kids are now reading bigger books at home.
That’s why I recommend the Barton System to my friends whose children struggle with reading and spelling.
Thanks so much for creating a way to give children their confidence back.
Barton tutor at a small private school
I love getting emails like this:
Five years ago, my son was struggling terribly. He was in third grade and could no longer mask the difficulty he was having with reading fluency.
Homework drove him to tears. It had gotten so bad that he would hit himself in the head and call himself “stupid.” It broke my heart.
Today, Nolan completed the Barton Reading & Spelling System with Janis Garcia, a wonderful Certified Barton Tutor. He proudly received his certificate signed by Susan Barton.
Nolan is excelling in school, but perhaps more importantly, he has regained his self-confidence.
I can’t thank you enough for all you have done to drive awareness, to advocate, and to provide resources for addressing the needs of children with dyslexia. It has made all the difference in the world for our family.
Kim Shinmoto, parent
I love it when schools spend a year doing a pilot program using the Barton System – because I know the results will be great. And next year, the school will expand the program, as this teacher shared:
Susan, with your help and guidance through our first year using the Barton Reading & Spelling System, we have had students soar with growth.
We have seen discouraged, defeated parents turn into encouraged and hopeful parents. Students beam when they feel and see how much they have accomplished over the year.
For instance, a 4th grader started the year reading at a 2.9 grade level. After seven months of doing the Barton System, she is now reading at a 5.1 grade level.
We want to thank you so much. We will be forever grateful to you and your program.
And it’s only the beginning!
Valena Taber, Education Coordinator
South Columbia Family School
When you homeschool your child, you can do Barton tutoring every day and close the gap much faster — as this parent shared:
Thank you for making a way for me to help my daughter, Ann. We just finished the entire Barton Reading & Spelling System.
When my daughter was in 5th grade, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. But she was “not bad enough” to qualify for any special help in the school. Yet she was falling further and further behind each year.
I was a stay-at-home mom, so I did not have the financial resources to hire a private tutor.
Instead, I pulled her out of her full-time public school, and found a hybrid school that has your program, The Summit Academy in Colorado. I never would have had the confidence to even try to help Ann without your “scripted” lesson plans, and her teacher, Angela Dormish, who gave Ann your posttest at the end of each level.
It took us two years, but we finished. I feel closer to Ann than I have in years.
Ann will now go back into the classroom equipped with the skills she needs.
I write this letter through grateful tears. May God richly bless you for your incredible work.
This is why Early Intervention — of the right type and intensity — is so important.
Travis never attended public school because I realized that he showed the same symptoms of dyslexia that my older son did at that age.
So I homeschooled Travis and started him on the Barton program as soon as he was old enough. I was already using it with his older brother and having good results.
Recently, Travis began expressing a desire to go to 2nd grade public school with his friends, which I figured would happen eventually. So, I took him up to our local elementary school. The teachers, principal, and counselor were great. They took him on a tour of the school, let him observe a class, and even let him play on the playground for a while. He felt right at home and decided he might like to try public school for the last six weeks of the year — even though I did explain to Travis that he would have to continue doing Barton 3x per week after school.
Of course, the first thing the school staff wanted to do was placement testing. The reading specialist evaluated his reading level as approximately 3.0 grade level. She did mention that she thought his fluency was lacking as he read from one line of text to the next and encouraged me to read aloud to him daily.
I then shared the testing we had done with a private dyslexia interventionist who said that although he was young, it was her best opinion that he was pretty severely dyslexic. I also shared some of the results of his testing, such as being at the 2nd percentile for phonemic awareness.
Then I explained how we had been using a combination of the Barton System (which she was not familiar with, but she knew of OG), and occupational therapy for the dysgraphia for almost three years. The more I talked, the wider her eyes got.
She finally said, “I had no idea that what you are saying you have done could actually be done. I see these kids come through here with such low skills, and they get further and further behind. It scars them for life, and they never recover from it. I would have never guessed that he was dyslexic. He didn’t mix up a single sound while he was reading. I’ve never known anyone who has actually fixed it.”
Mind you, we live in Texas, where dyslexic students receive “daily intervention” from our public schools. Sadly, it is often ineffective, as it was with my oldest son, who could not read CVC words in 3rd grade despite their “intervention.”
I wish I had known how to help my oldest son before he had the chance to feel like a failure, but I just didn’t know what to do.
Thank you so much for bringing awareness and education to parents about the dyslexia community, updates about the latest research of brain imaging, and best teaching practices.
Most of all, thank you for giving my son a chance to show the world what a bright boy he is. I’m still not sure if he will go to that school or if we will continue homeschooling, but I do know that either way, he will be a success because of your program and his hard work.
This woman is another one of my heroes.
My own dyslexia was a gift from God. Meeting you was another. Thank you for all you have done to change the lives of children and their families.
Over the past decade, I have personally witnessed the success of over one hundred students whom I have tutored using the Barton System.
One of my former students graduated valedictorian and is now in vet school.
Another took herself out of special ed classes when she was in 8th grade, and she graduated with honors last year. She actually said to me, “You saved my life.”
Another worked as a night cleaner at a fast-food restaurant until he could read all the items on the menu. He was then promoted to trainer of the night cleaners. Eventually he changed jobs to become a line cook at a fancy restaurant. This young man, who began the Barton System when he was a senior in high school, now works for a well-known soda company, is married, and has 2 children.
Yet at age 18, when we started, he said, “I will never learn how to read and write. My teachers say I have a learning disability, and that’s why I am so dumb.”
After I left the public school system, I began a ministry at my church called 3H Tutoring: Help, Hope and Honor for Struggling Readers. My pastors are very supportive and have announced this ministry to the congregation.
We now have 17 students and 3 tutors: myself and 2 trained volunteers. We have seen remarkable gains in our students’ standardized test scores, an incredible gain in their self-confidence, and a newly-found love of books and literature.
Thank you for helping me save the lives, and change the future, of these wonderful students.
Founder of 3H Tutoring