Tag Archives: Struggling Students

I would never have guessed he was dyslexic

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.

Alison Teal
Troy, TX

Another hero

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.

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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.

TerraBeth Jochems
Founder of 3H Tutoring
Billings, MT

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.

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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

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.

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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.

Teresa Danelski
Sturgeon Lake, MN

Never in her 13 years of teaching . . .

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.

dyslexic-daughter

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
Modesto, CA

A Third Grade Teacher’s Point of View

By Sally Miles
Shared with prior written permission

As a teacher, dyslexia therapist (ALTA), mother and grandmother of two brilliant dyslexics, and someone who loves learning, I do my best every day to meet the needs of my students in my 3rd grade class. I fail every day, but we forgive and move on.

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I do my best to address teaching in an Orton-Gillingham based manner for every subject. Not every student I have is dyslexic, but every child can benefit.

My students have so many needs that even though I truly put forth the effort, my brain and my heart cannot possibly think of everything that every child needs during every moment of every day. Among the children I greet every morning are those diagnosed and undiagnosed dyslexic children, a hearing impaired child with cerebral palsy, diagnosed and undiagnosed children with ADHD, auditory processing disorders, language disorders and autism, English as a second language, children who go to bed unfed since they left school, children who are abused, and children who are neglected.

Even though I try to meet every single need of your child, I’m going to fail. So before you call me out on Facebook, talk to me! Tell me, in a kind way, what your child needs that I am not doing.

Remember, the things your child needs that I’m trying to do . . . may be met with resistance by other parents because I teach in a way that is different, or their child may have very different needs.

Remember that I am human and may forget simply because I have so many different needs swirling through my head.

Remember that my goal is to teach all of your children, every day, with the “right” way for your child, and I will fail. I will get up again the next day and try to do better.

But it is easier if you tell me what your child needs . . . rather than think I’m too ignorant, I don’t care, I’m lazy, or I’m just another part of an often-broken system.

The importance of early intervention

If you have ever watched one of your own children struggle for years in school due to undetected dyslexia, you will step in faster when your next child starts to struggle – as this parent did.

Our story is so similar to other families I have met: the daily homework struggles, tears of frustration over a worksheet that takes other kids only a few minutes to complete, “wait and see” advice from some teachers, and “your daughter is too smart to be dyslexic” from others. I have never felt so helpless.

But when Lillian was in second grade, we were so lucky to have a teacher who pulled me aside and recommended we go outside of the school system to get a private evaluation, and lucky that the evaluator recommended the Barton Reading & Spelling System.

When we started the Barton System, Lillian was in the spring of second grade, reading at a beginning first grade level. We worked very hard to close the gap, tutoring 30 minutes every day (and increased it to an hour a day during the summer).

Sorenson

When Lillian took her state reading test in the spring of third grade, she scored in the “meets grade level” category – only 4 points away from “exceeds.”

Now, after her second year of tutoring, she is able to read books at her interest level, and we often catch her reading just for fun – which means more to us than any test result. The growth we have seen in her confidence and self-esteem is priceless.

I have also benefited from your program. It is so empowering to finally be able to understand how to help my kids learn to read, and to speak knowledgeably with their teachers.

But more importantly, I was able to avoid struggle and failure with my younger son Nate, who was 5 1/2 when we had his sister evaluated. Nate had almost every early warning sign for dyslexia. So I started working with him at that time (in shorter sessions), and he has learned to read solely through the Barton System. We had him privately evaluated at the beginning of his first grade year, and Nate was reading at a mid-second grade level!

Nate is a poster-child for the importance of early intervention. I recently spoke about my experience tutoring my own kids when I testified before the Oregon Senate Committee on Education in support of our dyslexia bill.

Thank you again for creating such an accessible, affordable program, and for being so helpful and available when I had questions. My kids now have a limitless future, and your program allowed me to give it to them. We are so incredibly grateful.

Theresa Sorensen
Happy Valley, OR

Homeschooling takes a lot of courage

It takes a lot of courage to pull your child out of public school and start homeschooling. And it requires a lot of work. But most parents of children with dyslexia will tell you that homeschooling was the best thing they ever did.

This homeschool parent’s story is so typical.

Susan, I just have to share what that my son’s (homeschool) teacher posted today. We are on Level 4 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System. He is in 4th grade.

Last year, in public school, he hit the “brick wall” and cried every day. He hated school. He hated the fact that his little sister could read better than he could. His self-esteem was nonexistent. The school refused to do ANYTHING even though we had a diagnosis of dyslexia.

So this year, in an effort to salvage whatever self-worth he had left, we decided to homeschool.

Today, I received this email from his homeschool teacher. THIS is what happens when you use EVIDENCE BASED methods that are proven to work with a dyslexic child!

Subject: Music to my ears

My son: I’m going to have to read all the way home because I want to know what is going to happen next. Can I just read it now?

Teacher: No, that’s homework.

My son: But I want to know now.

Bighinati

This is coming from a boy who has NEVER enjoyed reading in his life because of dyslexia and the use of ineffective reading methods in the past. Now he can’t put his book down. Proud teacher moment!

Susan, thank you for everything you do to help our kids, and to educate us and guide us in advocating for them along this rocky journey. You are an angel to many.

Cindi Bighinati
Homeschool parent in CT

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.

Andrew Handwriting

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!

From
Andrew

The photo in this article is his handwritten version.

Slow and steady wins the race

Slow and steady wins the race — and school testing proves it. 

I love getting success stories from Barton tutors — like this one.

One of my students did not talk until he was 4 years old, had speech therapy for years starting in preschool, had been in special education since Kindergarten, and was even retained once.

When I met him at the end of 8th grade, the special education teachers had just told his parents that they had tried all they could, but he was still unable to read even the most decodable first grade words.

This student is probably my most severely dyslexic student, but also the most motivated. He has worked SO hard and has even driven to my house for a lesson when school has been cancelled due to snow.

We have made slow but steady progress.

He is a senior in high school now and just finished Level 8.

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I got a text from him today that included a picture he had taken of his computer screen at school (see above) showing a graph of his progress on a school reading test – which is used to determine if a reading class is needed or not. Students need 1000 points in order to get out of the reading class and be freed up to take an elective.

His first score, 213, was from September 9, 2013. His last score, 1040, is from today, March 17, 2015.

I am just so proud of him and had to share the good news!

Karin Merkle
Certified Barton Tutor at the Advanced Level
Rapid City Dyslexia Care
Rapid City, SD

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