Tag Archives: written expression

Writing papers in college was so hard . . .

Adults who never got the right type of help in school say that writing papers in college was nearly impossible, as this person shared: 

I just watched your dyslexia video, and my son has almost every single warning signs from preschool to elementary school.

I also have almost every warning sign. I always joked about being “dyslexic” growing up because I was always lost and always getting my left and right confused. But I never realized I had all of the classic signs.

dropoutdyslexic

I barely made it out of high school. I never wanted to go back because school was too painful !!!

I did try a semester at the local junior college, but I dropped out when the first writing assignment was given. I knew I couldn’t do it.

Years later, I took a class at a different junior college that was taught by a friend of mine. It was the most painful thing I have ever done. I did not want to disappoint my friend, so I stuck with it.

I agonized over every writing assignment. She couldn’t figure why it took me hours, and even days, to do such small writing assignments. This was before computers. I had mounds of crumpled papers, and I just about killed myself to get through that course.

I got the 2nd highest grade in the class, yet I still felt stupid because I was the only one who had to work so hard in such an easy class.

That was it. I was done with college.

I don’t want my son to go down that same path. What can I do to help him?

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: 

Dear Susan,

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.

Saved My Daughters Life

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

Poor spelling is the most obvious sign of dyslexia

I get the most heartbreaking emails from adults who are still ashamed of their spelling.

Here is what one had to do to pass her weekly spelling test:

I HATED spelling and am ashamed to admit that I even cheated on my spelling tests.

In fourth grade, my teacher would always ask the words in the same order they were in the book. So I would have a sheet of paper with the words already written out underneath my blank paper on which I “took the test.”

I would then turn in the prewritten sheet. I even purposely wrote a word wrong now and then to make it more believable.

I have never gotten over being ashamed of that.

Or this one:

If you were standing in front of me right now, I would hug you. How different my life could have been if you were around 40 years ago.

I’m 48 years old, dyslexic, and working (I should say struggling 🙂 on a Master’s degree in Communication. I am trying to create a teaching module that will incorporate dyslexia and empathy. During my research, I came across your website and just finished watching your lecture.

It was as if you had been sitting on my shoulder during my entire childhood.

I completely forgot about having my full name written on a piece of paper that my mom tucked into my sock each day — so that I could pull it out and copy it any time I had to write both of my names in elementary school.

Or this one:

I am 42 years old, and I have dyslexia and ADHD.

I have taught myself to read pretty well, but I still have a very hard time writing and spelling. It takes me hours to write a paper.

I was diagnosed in 1976 but never got the right type of tutoring. I graduated on a 3rd grade reading level, and I was in Special Ed classes for years.

Do you think I still have a chance to become a good writer with the right kind of teaching? I still have a very hard time writing and spelling. It takes me hours to write a paper.

In the time it took me to write this email, I could have written a small book. And I never send anything out without checking it many times.

If I could have overcome dyslexia when I was younger, I would have become an attorney or a legislator.

Or this one, from the president of a small company:

I am sending you this letter with spell check off just so you can see what I am deeling with. I am 44 years old I have ben diganocsed with dyslexa when I was a child I was in special classed when going through public shoole. I have allways been able to read slower of corse but I have great compratintion of what I read.

I know own my own mechanical contractiong companie and employ 25 people. I have always been embarsed about my spelling and gramer up untill about 10 years ago. Now I have my office manager proof read everything I send out and half the time I cant read what I wrought down myself. I have gotten to the point in my carrear that I am have been sucsesfull enogh that I don’t care what others think about my spelling and gramer well I guess that is not 100% true or I would not be sending you and email.

The sipelist words through me off have had there were where when I always seem to miss use them I must spell has 50% of the time hase and the same thing with had I spell hade.

It is so tyring trying to send out email that I don’t have time for my assistant the check the spelling and gramer so I send it out after reading it 5 pluss times just to see the next day when I read the email back I left out words completely. I don’t understand how I can read the same thing over and over again and not notice I lift out the or ‘s I seam to do it all the time. My spelling is so bad most of the time there is not another word close enoghf tha spell check can figure it out.

Do you think your program would haelp me deal with this issue or shoud I just have anything I right be proof read?

Yes, the Barton Reading & Spelling System will greatly improve the spelling of children, teenagers, and adults with dyslexia.

And adults with dyslexia are more ashamed of their spelling – than their slow and inaccurate reading.

F on Spelling Test (1)

Never stop doing what you’re doing

This private Facebook post from an adult shares the trauma of going through school without the right type of help — far better than I can. 

I just wanted to say thank you for all of the work you are doing for kids with dyslexia. I just finished watching Embracing Dyslexia. You were in it, and I liked what you said.

I was one of the unlucky ones. In the 80’s, they had no idea what was wrong with me. I did not hear the word dyslexia until I was in junior high. By then, I was fighting the best I could just to keep up.

My home life was not great. There was no caring or support from my parents.

Some teachers made fun of me to my face. Others called me lazy. I was accused of not trying or being stupid.

Starting in fourth grade, the school put me in special ed classes. But they put everyone with special needs in the same room. The teacher had to help one kid who was in a wheel chair, a different student who was mentally retarded, one who had behavior problems, and a small group of us in the corner who seemed to be “faking it” because we were bright and smart, but we could not figure out how to read, spell, write or do math.

We did not belong in a class with really handicapped kids. We needed help, but not the same type of help. Friends would ask, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you in the class with the handicapped kids?” I had to answer, “I don’t know.”

Needless to say, my childhood was not fun. I was beaten down mentally and physically.

Mrs. Barton, never stop doing what you are doing. Make sure no other kid has to go through what I went through.

Make sure everyone understands what dyslexia is, and how they can help kids through it.

Reading fluency is not the whole story

Many schools use DIBELS for progress monitoring. But by the end of first grade, DIBELS only checks reading fluency – which means reading speed. But children with dyslexia, even after their reading skills have greatly improved, may never read as fast as the other kids.

And focusing solely on fluency can cause teachers to miss the big picture – as this mother shared in a recent email.

Our daughter is starting 4th grade. She is in Level 5 of the Barton Reading & Spelling System.

The school she attended last year was terrific. But we moved, and the 504 team at this new school has NO CLUE about dyslexia. It is so painful and frustrating to have to continually fight their ignorance.

We explained that she has been professionally diagnosed with dyslexia, and that due to our paying for the right type of private tutoring, her phonemic awareness and decoding skills are now above grade level. So is her reading comprehension.

But they are focused solely on her reading speed (fluency), which as you know, may never completely “normalize.” Who cares?

My daughter says that when she tries to read as fast as the teacher wants, she then has no idea what she read. So what’s the point?

On the state standards test at the end of last year, she scored ABOVE grade level in reading comprehension, science, and writing. And she scored AT grade level in math and in 4 of the 5 strands for reading. The only thing she scored low on is reading fluency.

Yet without our knowledge, this new school pulled her out of Chorus and sent her to the “reading intervention room.” My daughter said there were about 15 other kids in the room. Many could not read at all. They handed her crayons and told her to color a book cover.

After about 10 minutes, my daughter went to the teacher and asked her what they would be doing. The teacher said, “Testing kids.” My daughter replied, “I already was tested, and I should be in Chorus now.” The teacher insisted she had to stay in that room so that the teacher could account for all of the students.

She then handed my daughter a piece of paper, which she brought home. She was supposed to fill in the following blanks. “My name is _____. I like ______. I love ______. I feel ______. I need _____.” After showing it to me, she crumbled it up and cried. I cried, too.

She’s 11, her IQ is probably higher than the teacher, and she does not belong in that class – so we pulled her from it. The school totally disagrees with our decision and warned us, “If she tanks, we’ll be back at this table again.”

 

Warning signs in adults

Since dyslexia is inherited, any adult who has dyslexia should watch for it in their children.

But adults with only mild or moderate dyslexia may not know they have it because they were never tested for it. But they will recognize these classic warning signs.

Lifelong trouble with spelling is one classic warning sign, as this college graduate shared:

Before the invention of the computer and “spell check,” it would take me forever to write a paper. I NEVER wrote letters to friends.

When I asked my mother how to spell a word, she would tell me to go look it up. How the heck can you look up a word if you don’t know how to spell it? I never did understand that. But my mother was a 1952 spelling bee champion, so she had no understanding of my difficulty.

I would spend HOURS going through all of the G’s trying to find the right spelling of jaguar.

Then an English teacher in college took me aside and asked, “Alice, you can’t spell, can you?” I sheepishly admitted I could not. He then asked me how I would spell jaguar. I replied that I wasn’t sure. He asked me if I could spell cat. I said yes. He then handed me a thesaurus and told me to look up cat. And there, under cat, was jaguar.

He then told me he never again wanted me to hand in a paper that was “dumbed down” because I couldn’t spell a word. He was the one who started the ball rolling to get me tested for dyslexia. I was 20 years old and in college.

Although it took forever to write papers, even with a thesaurus, I did get a college degree.

Another classic warning sign is being a very slow reader and having to guess to figure out the longer words – as this man shared:

At 78, I still struggle with dyslexia. Growing up in Tennessee in the 30’s and 40’s, I was viewed as dumb or lazy.

I may not seem as bad as others because I learned how to cheat, and how to avoid English and other courses that required lots of reading or writing. So I made good grades in college – graduating in the top 20% of my engineering class, and then getting an MBA.

But reading is still a lot of work.

And if you are a slow reader with terrible spelling, and you are also unable to master a foreign language, the odds are pretty high that you do have dyslexia – as this woman shared:

My brother’s kindergarten teacher suspected he might have dyslexia, but it took 2 years before he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia.

When I was 12, I attended a Susan Barton presentation on dyslexia with my parents. During her lecture, I realized I was also dyslexic – but I did not struggle as much as my brother. I was just a slow reader and a terrible speller.

It was not until I had to take a foreign language class in college, and failed every language I tried, that my parents finally realized I might also have dyslexia, and had me tested.

If you know or suspect that you have dyslexia, please watch for it in your children – because it is an inherited condition. Not all of them will have it, but about half of them will.

The right type of tutoring works !!!!

Parents, if your child’s school does not provide the right type of tutoring, then you need to provide it after school.

Some parents hire a professional tutor for the reason this tutor shared:

The Barton System continues to feed my soul. I am so grateful for having this opportunity to witness firsthand how your program changes lives.

A mother was in my living room the other day listening to her son read the stories from Book 3, Lesson 1. He had gotten this far in only 8 sessions with me, yet his school had threatened to retain him in first grade.

His mother started sobbing and shared that in college, she had failed Freshman English seven  times. So she finally dropped out. “Why didn’t they have this when I was a child? I could have succeeded,” she cried.

Naturally, I started crying too.

Thank you, Susan, for changing the world!

Many parents tutor their own children using the Barton System with great success, as this mother shared:

I am replying to your email to share with you our joy.

My 10 year old son, Mike, is at the end of level three. Today I told him to read the end-of-the-lesson story aloud by himself, while I checked for your e-mail.

I quietly noticed he was applying the rules, checking for tricky letters, and moving right along – all by himself. Before he finished, he even noticed his fluent reading.

He turned to me and said, “Mom, I can read. This woman (meaning you) understands me!!!”

It was a moment I’ve been praying for. Thank you for all the hard work that you do.

But I get the biggest thrill of all when the parent gets tutoring, as this Barton tutor shared:

Jerry discovered his own dyslexia at age 50, when his son was diagnosed. Jerry shared that he could not physically keep doing logging, but he had always turned down desk jobs because they involved paperwork. He was always coming up with inventions to solve mechanical challenges, but he could not follow through and market them because of his spelling and writing challenges.

So I started tutoring him using the Barton System. He has been getting tutoring 2 to 3 times a week for about a year.

Six months ago, he was hired by a local technology company. Jerry works with the owner designing new products. He is doing well and has received several raises and promotions.

Just last week, he wrote his first letter ever – to his son Frank in boot camp. His son said he cried when he read it. He wrote back to tell his dad that he was his hero!

By the way, the Barton Reading & Spelling System is not the only system that works. For a list of other Orton-Gillingham-based systems that work, click here.
 

Parents are stressed

Parents are often more stressed about school starting than their kids, as this parent shared:

Linda is about to start second grade, and I am so worried.

Linda has ALL the classic warning signs! Some I didn’t even know were signs until I watched your video.

She used to say “teanut butter,” “Janjuary,”, and “Yew Nork.” It was cute back then.

She had two sets of tubes and had her adenoids out at 2.

At the end of kindergarten, the teacher said Linda could not write her ABCs on the assessment. She left out 7 letters. And Linda could not figure out which letters she had left out – not even when she sang the song.

Despite tutoring with the teacher ALL summer before first grade – no improvement. We read a book that had the word “star” in it at least 15 times. Linda read it correctly 14 out of 15 times, but on the last page, she could not read that word. I was flabbergasted!

Writing is such a chore. She definitely has dysgraphia.

And don’t even ask me how many hours a week we waste trying to memorize the weekly spelling list.

Toward the end of first grade, I had her tested at school for a learning disability. Her IQ is 120. She tested in the 99th percentile in verbal comprehension and perceptual reasoning, but only the 42nd percentile in working memory, and the 13th percentile in processing speed. The school psychologist claimed that meant she was not dyslexic. He noticed her writing difficulties, but said Linda just needed to practice more.

This summer, I had Linda work with a reading specialist 3 days a week. It seemed to help a little. Linda is currently signed up to start with this reading specialist again when she starts second grade – next week.

Her latest “incident” has been trying to learn our phone number. Through her tears, Linda tried for 30 minutes to learn it. We sang songs, tried clapping it, etc. Nothing helped her remember it. She doesn’t know our address, either.

Does this sound like dyslexia to you?

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.

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