Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bad bad dyslexic day

It was a bad bad day. Actually it was a bad bad day yesterday that spilled onto today.

I know it's been a long time since I last posted, but I've faithfully been doing school. In fact I wrote a post once, but as I went to publish it, it disappeared. I have lots to post, but this will not be the usual post. This will be me wallowing in self depreciation. So skip this one if you wish.

Maxwell and Hyrum have dyslexia. I haven't really posted too much about this because I've wanted to be able to talk about dyslexia once we were a success story. The kind I read that are all sparkly and bright. "My child couldn't read anything, but we did such and such, and now he's reading so much I have to take books away from him so he will go play!!" "My child was two grades below grade level, but now he corrects his peer's spelling!"

I want SO BAD to be a success story. But I'm not. At least I'm not yet.

I'm still going through the sludge. Dreaming of the day that I will see Maxwell with a chapter book that he picked up on his own account. Devouring it because he loves it. Then I take a photo. I post it on this blog, and I say how wonderful it is that he's reading. How all those countless hours are worth it. And how now I know Hyrum will be okay too. All I have to do is persevere and he will have his own photo too.

But that hasn't happened yet. Instead it's just me crying over my laptop. I'm pretty sure you don't want a photo of that.

Maxwell can't read.

Hyrum can't read.

Maxwell is ten. TEN and can't read. Hyrum will be eight in a few months. EIGHT and he can't read.

Daniel is 5 and if he has dyslexia, it's very mild.

But William; At 2 years old I can already see the signs as clear as anything. He will be just as dyslexic as his two oldest brothers.

I have a lot of self doubts.

If I had sent them to public school, they would have been saturated in the learning-to-read world where professionals were constantly hammering things in their head. Then they would come home for the night and we would have done homework one-on-one.

Was that what I should have done?

Now it's too late. They are so behind that public school would devour them.

Why did it take me so long to start taking things seriously with Maxwell? If I had done Barton sooner would it have helped?

Many told me to wait (mostly of the Thomas Jefferson Education mindset) and said that Maxwell would be ready later, and then it would be EASY. So am I not being patient enough? Should I wait? Have I been forcing it down his throat so much that he's spewing it out?

Lots of the people that told me to wait now have 12 and 13 year olds that still can't read. I looked at this and say "See? Waiting didn't work." to make myself feel better, but not waiting seems like it's not working either. So really, I'm just judging others so I can falsely elevate myself.

I've tutored other kids, but not long enough to make any kind of difference at all.

I'm tutoring a new kid. He's 12. I want so bad for it to be a success so I can know I'm a sufficient tutor.

Then I can say "See, HE got it. My kids will too, it will just take time and patience."

The Barton system says that level four should take 3-5 months. It's been seven months and I do not see the end in sight. EVERYDAY. everyday we are diligent.

I feel like I must be doing it all wrong.

Or maybe the system is all wrong-despite EVERYONE and their dog saying how it's the best tutoring system out there for dyslexics.

And you know what? I don't have the official stamp of dyslexia on anything. No professional has told me  that my kids have dyslexia. For all know they might say "No, your kids are pretty normal, but you suck as a teacher."

I want someone to tell me what is going on, but no one is there.

No one seems to be able to help me.

I'm all alone.

I asked for them to be "coded" but a year ago a lady came and said "yep, Maxwell is reading below grade level." That's it.

So it was me that read all the books, watched all the documentaries, put myself through the tutor training, and surfed the internet until my eyes crossed. Now I say they have dyslexia, but I have no official right to do so.

I went to the elementary school and the principle pretty much told me there's nothing they can do.

There are no tutors in Cardston, and I'm sure there's something here in Victoria, but we'll only be here a couple more months.

Yesterday I saw how pointless it was to go further in Maxwell's level four book. He wasn't getting it. I sat there. Knowing I had ploughed through. Telling myself he was succeeding, but now it was beyond pretending. I needed to go back. Reteach things that were embedded wrong. Knowing that to un-teach something is harder than teaching it. Knowing I was already taking twice as many months as I should to get through the book.

Where should we go back? To the beginning of the book.

I cried.

Can I do this? Do I even have a choice?

Then I taught Hyrum. I've been teaching him the level two book. All. Year. Long. It should take about one or two months to finish the level two book. I thought it was time for me to give him the post test. He failed. He didn't fail miserably, but the same concepts we've been working on again and again are the same ones that he got wrong. The same concepts we work on EVERY SINGLE STINKING DAY were the ones he got wrong.

Let me explain where my kids are having trouble.

Maxwell can't tell when a vowels says its long or short sound. We haven't even tried silent "e"s or vowel combinations yet. I'm talking about when it's an open syllable like "pro" it's long and if it's closed like "prom" it's short.

I can not glue this concept to his brain. He can spell it. In fact, his spelling seems to be better than his reading. He understands the idea of the concept. I can ask him all the rules as this idea gets used in more complex scenarios, and he can give me all the right answers. He knows how it works. He just can not execute it.

I watch him as he tries to read a word like romantic. Ro-man-tic. long vowel, short vowel, short vowel. He knows it. If I ask him to tell me if the vowel is long or short he gets frustrated because he KNOWS. But then when he reads "romantic" on the page without help, I see the concentration in his brow, his cheeks almost twitching as his mouth silently goes through different ways this word might be pronounced. The uncertainty. The frustration. And finally he slowly says "Raw-man-tic."

He sees my face. He knows he did it wrong. He quickly says "romantic."

We were on lesson ten where we were learning the "banana rule." Now we were learning how long "a"s are often "uh." It was just too much. The same letter could be "Ay" "ah" and "uh?" He intellectually knew WHEN it said each, but to put it into practice? Nope.

Then Hyrum. "b"s and "d"s. The "e" says eh and the "I" says ih. Everyday we go over this. I've decided to make a little movie to try to help him. I have to learn how to make that movie and I'll post it here for your enjoyment. Hyrum seems to learn with movies.

I just had a thought! Hyrum also learns through hand symbols. Right now we are learning the history timeline song, and Hyrum is actually memorizing it. We are learning hand symbols to help memorize it, and I think that's why Hyrum is having his success.

Dustin says I'm "asking myself the wrong questions." I SHOULD be asking myself "what worked today?" "What was a good thing that happened." "What are my past success stories?" "How have they progressed?"

But I'm just not perky and need to wallow.....okay let me answer the right questions.

Maxwell read his primary talk on Sunday. I reworded it in order to make it words he knows how to read.

He knows all his sight words-largely because of the sight word cards I have made.

Maxwell is reading a 25 page chapter book without pictures every single day. (I'm bribing him of course.) These chapter books are specially made to be exactly at his reading level, but who cares, right? He hardly has any help from me, because he can DO IT!

It's hard to hide my fears and doubts, but his self-esteem seems be in tact still. We have been reading "The Dyslexic Advantage" together and he knows that although his brain makes it so reading and spelling is difficult, he has every possibility of really succeeding in life. That the same brain functions that make it so reading is hard for him, are the same brain functions that will give him an edge in the work place.

He LOVES books. He is constantly listening to audio books and asking to be read to.

He is really excelling at every other subject. I went on the Westwind alternate school's fourth grade checklist for math. It says he needs to know how to find the area--he knows how to find the volume. It says he needs to multiply a two digit number with a one digit number---He can multiply a 3 or 4 digit number by a two digit number. Basically, he's already ahead of his grade, and the year's not over yet.

And Hyrum- I can see his progress in math so clearly (because I was so worried about particular things that are hardly any problem now.) He really is going to succeed because his brain works so differently.

Take today. He was adding something and the answer was 101. He wrote 100 1 and than said "oh yah, the 1 is hiding the 0" and wrote 101 but didn't really put any spaces, and said "look! 101 is the green lantern symbol!" I don't know if anyone out there appreciates this, but it seemed like it was right out of the "Dyslexic Advantage" book. The spacial comprehension of the place values. The interconnection of relationships between numeric symbols and superhero symbols.

The world needs people who see things differently.

I really want to get my certification in dyslexic tutoring as well as being a certified screener of dyslexia. I want something that says "She's not messing her kids up. She's doing it right."

Silly of me hu?


  1. Wow, Lindy, you are doing some great things with your kids. You are an amazing mom AND teacher. You are persistent and consistent. This will all pay off. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Nancy. I have to admit I often compare myself to you. I think about how your children were reading before they went to kindergarten. I know it's not right or fair to compare myself to others, but I do. So this coming from you really does affect me.