Hitting the wall

Marathon runners talk about hitting the wall.  This happens, usually around 18 miles, when your body wants desperately to stop the madness but you need to make it to the finish line (if it’s a race) or a couch at your house (if it’s a long training run).  To get past the wall I focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other.  As long as I keep moving, progress is made.  This is where determination, grit, and a high pain tolerance comes in handy.  Also, some well placed stubbornness.

This week I finally heard back from the principal at #3’s school.  Last week handed in his assessment which clearly states he will qualify for special education and details how intense the correct interventions need to be NOW so that he doesn’t slip into failure (I would argue a deeper failure).  At first I heard back nothing.  So, I e-mailed the special education teacher and principal to let them know the paper work had been turned in.  I asked a simple question, “Is anyone at our school trained in an Orton Gillingham method?”  Again, no answer.

Finally, yesterday the principal came into #3s first grade classroom while I was there and asked me to stop into his office when I got a chance.  Yeah!  Progress.  I really like this principal.  He is responsive to parents and truly a nice guy.  He has a great love of what he does and it shows.  A couple minutes later I sauntered down to his office with high hopes of having a great conversation. He would share with me how quickly the school is going to move because of the thorough assessment I provided. We would end it with a smile and perhaps even a high 5.  Go team!

I’m so dumb.

He started by going over the qualifications for special ed. and I realized this was not going to be the conversation I had pictured.  First, there needs to be a discrepancy between achievement and ability.  #3 has a huge discrepancy.  He is labeled gifted by the district (and this was confirmed in his outside assessment) and is in the bottom 5% for reading achievement and phonemic awareness according to his psychological testing.  Second, his level of achievement must be very low.  Again, we have mastered this one…..he is below the 5% mark.  Third, he has to show no progress.

And this is where we hit the wall…..according to the principal.

#3 is holding his own, to a very low degree, in the classroom (I completely disagree with this).  In other words, he hasn’t failed yet according to the districts standardized testing.  He is on the low side, but until his standardized tests show that he is very low and he is falling further and further behind his classmates, no assessments will be made.  Its all about the number on one test in the Mondo Reading Curriculum.  What I say doesn’t matter.  What his classroom teacher says doesn’t matter.  What an educational assessment says…that doesn’t matter either.  He hasn’t failed enough.

I was stunned.  Am I supposed to hope for #3 to profoundly fail so that he can receive help?  Really?

Oh, but there is a solution the principal says.  The classroom teacher is going to do the Sonday System (Orton-Gillingham based) with him and another child.  I was speechless because how do you respond to insanity?

#3’s teacher is a master teacher.  She is disciplined, incredibly hard working, doesn’t waste a single second of instructional time in the classroom, and very skilled….however, she is human.  She has not been trained in how to teach children with dyslexia.  She has not been trained in the Sonday System or any Orton-Gillingham method and has not been trained in how to teach children with dyslexia.  So much of teaching a learning disabled child is about the pacing and the understanding of how frequent you need to go backwards and review.  These children learn at a very different pace and with very different instructional methods than other children….THAT IS WHY THEY STRUGGLE IN THE CLASSROOM.  A classroom teacher should not be expected to do everything twice, once for 90% of her classroom and another time for the other 10%.  Sometimes this is appropriate, but this should not be the final solution.

BTW, she has about 25 kids in her classroom, many of them with their own set of special needs: behavior, social, academic, highly gifted, poverty, struggles at home, etc.  She is supposed to figure out how to use an entirely different curriculum, find the time to do intense intervention (at LEAST 3 hours a week) AND teach the rest of the class all on her own?  Again, she’s excellent, but not a miracle worker.  This is not fair to her.  This is not fair to the classroom.  This is not fair to #3.  So much of what happens in the classroom for reading and writing does not apply to him, but he will be forced to sit there and watch his classmates understand and catch on to what is happening why he is continually learning “this does not apply to me” because the way reading is taught in the classroom is wrong for how his brain is wired.  Confusion sets in when a child is asked to do the classroom reading curriculum, guided reading and also a specialized curriculum.  That is 3 different approaches to tackle something that is already incredibly difficult…..when only one will work…..the other two only create anxiety and failure.

But, no help outside of the classroom will be given because he hasn’t failed enough yet. And I have yet to get an answer to my original question, has anyone in the school been trained in how to teach children with dyslexia?

I have hit the wall….in this case it’s the wall of crazy policies and bureaucracy in the district.  No help until your child is a puddle of tears on a daily basis, is so far behind his peers there is virtually no hope of getting caught up, and you and your child are both filled with hate and rage towards school.  Lovely.

Time to put one foot in front of the other.  Remember my form.  Breath.  Don’t freak out. Believe in myself.

I have trained hard for this.  I’ve been down this road before.  I know what needs to happen.  I have a good playlist.  I have friends and family along the road yelling encouragement, taking extra baggage, and handing me nourishment.  I have grit, determination….and let’s not underestimate my well-placed stubbornness.

I can’t see the finish line, but I know it’s there, and I will work with everything I’ve got to get there.  On the other side of the wall will be a child who believes in his academic capabilities and is given the chance to succeed.

family-27-2Failure is not an option.


When is it time to get your child tested?

Answer: When you have some money burning a hole in your pocket and you have a lot of grit.


First, financials.  Many places that understand and diagnose learning disabilities from an educational point of view do not accept insurance.  Which is particularly maddening because schools will not recognize/treat/accomodate dyslexia because it’s a “medical diagnosis” in their view (I can really flip out about this subject….since when are medical diagnoses not valid in the eyes of a school?).  Insurance doesn’t agree with this and tells you learning disabilities (aka problems in school) is not their issue because its not anything medical/health related.  Financials are just another area that parents are tossed around from one party to another with no one wanting to take some responsibility to help….and you are literally stuck with the bill.

Second, grit.  To go through this process you need determination and grit to face reality.  Determination just get to the process moving and see it through.  Grit to face what comes after the diagnoses.

Last night I sat in the office of the same educational psychologist’s office that diagnosed #1 and #2.  This time I was there concerning #3.  I had assumed he was dyslexic for years but didn’t have a formal diagnoses, paperwork and testing to back me up.  After a couple months in 1st grade it was clear I was going to need this to get attention so his teacher (whom I LOVE) wouldn’t continue to assume he just needs more time to practice reading the same guided reading books over and over and over…which quite frankly is a waste of his time.

Because I’m not homeschooling #2 anymore, and #4 is in school this year, I have time to be in the classroom volunteering.  On Tuesdays I volunteer at a program called Rocket Readers in #3’s first grade classroom.  I have a small group of some of the lowest readers in the classroom….because that is where my child is.  While another little girl, who started at a much lower reading level than #3 continued to improve through September, October, November and now into December, my child stayed at the exact same level with absolutely NO IMPROVEMENT.  The little girl has begun to sound out words.  She has different decoding methods.  Reading is still hard, but she is improving.  #3 can read some of the books at his level, but he is reading the pictures and using his background knowledge.  He is not reading the words.  He is not looking at the letters, understanding the sounds and putting the sounds together into words.  He could read a little book about a fire station because he has been to fire stations, I have read him books about fire stations, he had a unit in kindergarten about fire stations, etc….not because he saw the word “h-o-s-e” and can sound it out using phonics rules and know this word is hose.  The teacher continued to tell me that he was smart, a good student and he just needed more time.

Absolutely not.

I’ve been down this road before.  More time would only let him fall through the cracks more.  Let him fail further.  Bring about frustration, anxiety and a hatred of school.

He needs to be taught with different methods, something that is compatible for the way his brain is wired.  A whole language and guided reading approach will never EVER work.  He needs a systematic approach with phonics (aka the Wilson Reading System).  It was time to get the paperwork to back me up.

As I sat in the educational psychologist’s office hearing the words, “Yes, he is definitely dyslexic.  Its very obvious.  No one can question these striking results.  He needs appropriate interventions immediately.  It is so good you came as early as you did.”  He is more severely dyslexic than #1, but not profoundly dyslexic like #2. If I want to pursue special education, he would definitely qualify. I was filled with a sense of relief.  I was right.  Its always good to be right, isn’t it?

Later, at 3:00 AM, came the sense of dread.  Holy crap.  I have 3 kids with dyslexia.  And I live in a district that refuses to help them.  What am I doing?  Will this be a big huge fight too?  Will this principal treat me the same as the last principal (horribly)?  Will these teachers dismiss me and the needs of my child?  Will this school tell me its not their responsibility to teach him how to read and write and if I want that to happen I better find a tutor or private school?  Will anyone listen to me and understand that teaching a child with dyslexia is not outrageous, its just different?  (insert string of words I’m not going to type out……)

And then the alarm went off.  If I would have had time to get new spikes for my shoes (St. Paul is covered in ice right now) this would have been the perfect morning to get out my angst on a long, fast run.  Instead I hit off and prayed for strength, determination and grit.

Psychology professor Angela Duckworth defines grit as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” She writes that “the gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”


Advantage is stamina?


Its the one thing I actually do have.

Time to get those spikes for my shoes.  The road ahead may be treacherous, but with the right equipment, and a healthy amount of grit, anything is possible.  Especially when preserving #3s infectious personality is at stake.



Have a good playlist

No deep thoughts today!  And nothing about dyslexia!  Sometimes its good to take a break, and what better way than listening to music.  Below is the playlist that my running partner made for me which turned out to be the secret to my success for the Twin Cities Marathon.  While I was typing each song I could remember the smile on my face and my deep feeling of contentment.  I also enjoyed hearing the secret messages and the overall theme of run to the beat I knew my running partner would insert.  Hope some of you can find a new song or two to add to your playlist for running, cleaning, driving, completing Excel spreadsheets, dance parties, etc.

  1. Easy — The Commodores
  2. Bright Morning Stars — Abigail Washburn
  3. The Book of Love — The Magnetic Fields
  4. Hide and Seek — Imogen Heap
  5. Blue Mind — Alexi Murdoch
  6. Whenever God Shines His Light — Van Morrison
  7. Mandolin Rain — Bruce Hornsby
  8. Seasons of Love — Original Broadway Cast
  9. Keep Your Head Up — Ben Howard
  10. Hard Way Home — Brandi Carlie
  11. Ants Marching (Live) — Dave Matthews Band
  12. Just Say Yes — Snow Patrol
  13. Wake Me Up — Avicii
  14. Cruise (Remix) — Florida Georgia Line
  15. Come on Eileen — Dexy’s Midnight Runners
  16. Girl on Fire (Inferno Version) — Alicia Keys
  17. Hey Brother — Avicii
  18. Love Story — Taylor Swift
  19. After School Special — Jurassic 5
  20. Suga Mama — Beyonce
  21. The Distance — Cake
  22. Follow Your Arrow — Kacey Musgraves
  23. Ladies Love Chest Rockwell — Lovage
  24. I Gotta Feeling — The Black Eyed Peas
  25. Have you Got It In You? — Imogen Heap
  26. Blister in the Sun — Violent Femmes
  27. Raise Hell — Brandi Carlile
  28. Altrevete — Calle 13
  29. Tangerine Speedo — Caviar
  30. Awake My Soul — Mumford & Sons
  31. Merry Go ‘Round — Kacey Musgraves
  32. 1 Goddess — Soho
  33. All This Time — Sting
  34. Real Fine Love — John Hiatt
  35. Calabria — Enur
  36. DotA (Radio Edit) — Basshunter
  37. Fit But You Know It — The Streets
  38. Sweet Child O’ Mine — Guns N’ Roses
  39. Forget you — Cee Lo Green
  40. Wagon Wheel — Old Crow Medicine Show
  41. Echoes (Radio Edit) — Hennik B, Niklas Gustavsson & Peter Johansson
  42. Lover of the Light — Mumford & Sons
  43. Empire State of Mind — Jay-Z
  44. Don’t Stop Believin’ — Journey
  45. Firework — Katy Perry
  46. Nothing Compares 2 U — Prince
  47. Can’t Hold Us — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  48. Shadows of the Night — Pat Benatar
  49. The Rockafeller Skank — Fatboy Slim
  50. Without You — David Guetta & Usher
  51. Love Somebody — Maroon 5
  52. Move (If You Wanna) — Mims
  53. Stay Loose — Jimmy Smith
  54. Thickfreakness — The Black Keys
  55. Less Talk More Rokk — Freezepop
  56. Heart of A Champion — Nelly
  57. Hall of Fame — The Script
  58. Kids — MGMT
  59. Get Up On It Like This – The Chemical Brothers
  60. Desire — U2
  61. Baba O’Riley — The Who

©Running Partner, October 2013

And I’m still wondering what this guy was thinking.

Did he lose a bet?

Think this was hilarious last week….and then he hit mile 4?

.Chewy 1

Hopefully he also had a good playlist.


The morning of the marathon my running partner dropped her husband (running dude) and me off near the starting line.  She was not running this year because of an injury and we found ourselves alone without our caretaker and guide.

“Time to get our watches on I suppose” said running dude.

With a panicked look in my eye I turned to him and said, “I forgot mine.”

“YOU FORGOT IT?!?!” says running dude in a squeak, his eyes flashing a feeling of panic that he trying to hide.

This was bad.  I had trained all summer to run a certain speed.  I’m a slightly erratic runner and pace is a little bit of a problem.  Also, running like I was shot out of a cannon or like a racehorse is sometimes my style, and this is not the way to start a marathon.  I knew exactly what pace I was supposed to run to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but now I would have no idea if I was going to fast (and running the risk of crashing around mile 22) or going too slow for the cutoff.

After awhile of rising blood pressure, and a moment of “what would my running partner do?” I said, “You know, I think it will be fine.  I no longer will have something on my wrist pressuring me to go faster or slower.  I won’t be looking at it every minute and feeling bad that I’m not going the right speed.  I won’t get into my head with negative thoughts and panic.  I can just go out there, listen to the music, listen to my body and run.”

Before we had to line up we said our good-byes, wished each other luck and took a deep breath together….hoping the next time we saw each other we’d both be happy at the finish line and not in a first aid station along the way.

As I stood in my coral waiting to start people started turning on their pace watches and waiting for the satellite signals to kick in.  Panic started rising in me again as I wondered how I was going to have any idea if I was going the correct speed. Right before my coral started, and I started at the open streets of Minneapolis, I silently meditated:


Run to the beat.


Your running partner will guide you with the music.


Your body will carry you.


And with that, I was off to run the marathon.  The first song on my playlist started and it was “Easy on Sunday Morning” by Lionel Richie.  Hilarious.  I started at a nice easy pace, looked down at the pavement, and eased into the run while people were flying by me at a sprint.  Instead of joining in, I listened…..

And so it goes with raising children. Throughout my parenting journey I have discovered that listening to my children is many times the most important thing I can do.  I had to listen to #1 and #2 struggle to know it was time to figure out what was going on with their learning.  I had to listen to #2’s signals which told me his elementary school was failing him.  While I was homeschooling him I had to listen very closely to his signals.  I didn’t have any test scores telling me if he was progressing, I had to listen to his progress.  Sometimes I think test scores are like a pace watch.  We don’t listen to students, we simply wait for the score and adjust.  This feedback is helpful and necessary at times, but harmful when its the only thing you rely on.  I had also listened to his signals and decided he was ready to try going to a more traditional school again.

When #1 was having a very difficult time at his elementary school I had a series of meetings with teachers and administrators.  Every time I met with them they would have a stack of papers containing various test scores.  They would throw out numbers and tell me everything was fine. Because I am his mother, and I was listening to his signals I knew things weren’t fine.  Finally I said, “Has anyone in this room ever listened to him read? Just sat down and listened?” I received blank stares.  I was furious.  In the room was his classroom teacher of almost 2 years and his reading specialist of almost 2 years.  I had been raising concerns for 5 years about his reading progress and NO ONE had ever simply listened to him read a paragraph.  Everything they were telling me was based on a number that was spit out of a computer. They had never listened to what I was telling them or what #1 was telling them.


I replied, “I think if you listened to him read this would be a different conversation.  There are 6 adults here, perhaps someone could find 5 minutes to listen to him and then we can meet again in a week.”

Later that week the classroom teacher did listen to him, and she was shocked…..he couldn’t read anywhere near grade level. She said she had no idea.  However, it was nearing the end of 5th grade and the said there wasn’t much they could do that year.  They suggested lots of tutoring and summer school so he could improve over the summer and hopefully 6th grade would be better, but offered no help from the school.  I listened for solutions and signals that things would change, and there were none.  I took this as my exit sign.  Through listening, I heard it was time to get out.

I told them I was officially done with the school and they had failed two of my children.  Because they had refused to listen, they had failed.

Sometimes steps can be hard and painful, such as leaving your community and friends, but sometimes the best thing you can do is listen to what your environment is telling you.

And so it went with the marathon.

There I was, going around the lakes in Minneapolis.  I had no idea what my pace was and I was caught in the middle of the pack.  I definitely knew I wasn’t going too fast, that was for sure.  But, I was enjoying the run and not worried about my time because I had no clue what it was!  After some slow songs the tempo started to pick up.  When “Girl on Fire” came on, I knew this was the signal from my running partner that it was OK for me to go for it.  A couple miles later along the Mississippi River I heard “Have You Got It In You?” My answer was yes, as I started passing more and more people.  As I entered my home turf of St. Paul for the homestretch down Summit Ave. where I would see many friends and family the song “Don’t Stop Believin'” was playing.  Suddenly a good friend from from my running group I call Team Varsity ran out and screamed “You’ve got this! Oh my god!  Just go!”  Around mile 24, during “The Rockafeller Skank” my beloved running partner was at the side of the road jumping up and down and screaming “You’ve got this baby!”  I couldn’t believe my body was telling me to go faster.  I still had no idea my time, and every step seemed to be taking increasing energy, but my body was telling me I had enough in me to get to the end, especially if I got there quickly.

mile 25

A friend took of picture of me running up the last hill of the coarse at mile 25.  I think the smile was gratefulness that I knew I wouldn’t have to climb another hill and I could sit down soon.

And then I was across the finish line.  I still had no idea my time, or what pace I had run, but it was over.  Soon I got a call from my running partner who said, “You did it! That was pretty amazing.”  Hearing her excitement was music to my ears.

Later that day my official results were in.  I had run an average pace of 8:30, the exact speed I planned to run, with negative splits through the marathon.  My time was 3:42:40, Boston Qualifying by a hair.

I had listened to my body.  Listened to the music.  Listened to my friends.  Proof that amazing things can happen when you listen to the signals around you.

Better Together

“Run in places you love with people you like. Enjoying your surroundings and training partners will strengthen your commitment to running and bring out the best in you.”
~Deena Kastor

At the end of a long run this summer my running partner looked at me, with hands on her knees, and said, “There is no way I could have done that without you.”

“Right back at you,” I said with a smile and a wink.  Those who have run 17+ miles with me know the deep, dark secrets start to come out to carry us through those last couple miles.  Sometimes making yourself vulnerable physically and emotionally are exactly what you need to do to form bonds, and it’s amazing what you can accomplish with strong connects to others.

It is this belief in strong community that lead me to find a school for #2.  I no longer wanted to be the principal, janitor, lunch lady, classroom teacher, curriculum design, social worker, special ed. teacher, case manager, behavior intervention specialist AND parent.  Well, forget janitor, I had given up on that one almost immediately.  I did, however, know that #2s case was complicated enough that I could no longer educate him and prepare him for “real life” by myself.  He really struggles with self-advocacy, and its difficult to work on this skill when your mother is continually by your side.  He struggles with knowing how to handle social situations, another tricky thing to work on from your dining room table.  By the end of May he was through the first 6 levels of the Wilson Reading System.  I knew he was reading above grade level and his math was above grade level.  It was time for him to work on some other parts of life.

I had heard bits and pieces about Cyber Village Academy from some acquaintances, but when a friend who has a child that struggles in traditional school told me she had enrolled her child, I decided to get serious.  I did a tour and turned in the paperwork, crossing my fingers the entire time.

Two weeks ago I had #2s first IEP meeting.  I felt slightly queezy going in.  I had flashbacks to the disastrous IEP meetings at his previous school.  Those meetings were combative and infuriating.  I cried during or after each and every meeting.  All I wanted was for my child to receive an education and I was treated like I was asking for some incredibly impossible prize at the end of a fanciful rainbow.

This time, however, it was different.  I was listened to.  They asked questions.  They worked with me…and in turn, I worked with them.  I immediately felt part of a team.  I shared with them some successes of homeschooling, and let them know some failures.  I trusted them enough to be vulnerable and let them know I don’t have all the answers.   I told them that this is a very difficult child to educate and this is why I need help.  We laughed at some of my descriptions of trials and tribulations in homeschooling…and I did not cry!  I left the meeting feeling empowered, supported and encouraged to go home and help make this educational setting a success.

And it is that sense of community that will help carry me through 26.2 on Sunday.  Yes, it’s my legs that will need to continually turn over, just as it’s #2 who needs to read, write, listen, etc.  But, a marathon is truly a team effort.  I will have friends and family throughout the coarse cheering, encouraging, taking my clothing layers and handing me gels.  Yesterday, a running friend brought me this for carboloading:


really good beer.

And my dear running partner, who has brought me this far, taught me so much, and trained with me for 3 summers in a row brought me this:


an iPod with an individualized playlist for my pace.  All I need to do is keep the beat.  Because of injury she has decided not to run this year, but she will be with me every step of the way, encouraging me to keep going with the beauty of music (and maybe there will be some deep secrets hidden in the music I encounter at mile 24).

It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we do things together.

Happy Dyslexia Awareness Month!


October is Dyslexia Awareness Month.  Below is a list of events from the International Dyslexia Association – Upper Midwest Branch.  I have provided links to register for the events on the title of the event.  Hope to see you at some point this month.  Let me know if you are going to an event.  I will definitely be at the screening of The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia with #1 and #2.  It’s pretty embarrassing that I haven’t seen it yet!  I have heard it excellent.  There is also an interesting webinar about assessment if you have questions after reading my post yesterday, What do I do if my child is struggling with reading?

If you don’t live in Minnesota, please check the International Dyslexia Association website for events in your area.

Dyslexia Awareness Month Events

Learn more about dyslexia and other language-based learning disorders at one of these dynamic October events!

IDA-UMB Webinar:  Deciphering the Tests 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

7 — 8 p.m.

Registration is free, but space is limited!

CEUs available for $10 fee.

The information provided in tests and assessments is invaluable in determining an LD learner’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses and helps inform the best approaches to the child’s education. This presentation will review what tests commonly are used to assess learning difficulties, what they mean and how parents and educators can utilize them to develop effective plans for special education.

Speaker, Ray Boyd, is a Minnesota Licensed Psychologist and the director of diagnostic services at Groves Academy who has been working with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention disorders for nearly forty years.

Groves/IDA-UMB Workshop: 

Why Word Origin and Structure are Critical to Reading Success

Thursday, October 3, 2013

6:30 – 8:30 pm

Groves Academy, 3200 Hwy 100 South, St. Louis Park, MN 55416

Registration is $30

Presented by Marcia Henry, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, San Jose State University Morphology, or the study of the structure and origin of words, describes how words are formed from building blocks called morphemes, which are the smallest units of meaning in a word. This 
session will provide an overview of morphology and why it is important to explicitly teach these skills to early or struggling readers.

IDA-UMB Webinar:  School SLD Assessment vs. Private Neuropsychological Assessment

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

7 — 8 p.m.

Registration is free, but space is limited!
 CEUs available for $10 fee.

School testing and diagnostic neuropsychological testing are different in their purpose and depth, the specifics of their results and scope of their recommendations. In this webinar you will learn several key distinctions between the two types of assessment so that you can make an informed decision about which is best for your child.

Jennifer Bennett, M.S., Licensed Psychologist, focuses her work on neuropsychological and educational assessment. At BrainWorks, P.A., her private practice, she conducts comprehensive evaluations with people ages 5-100 who are experiencing difficulties related to learning, information processing, and cognitive development.

FREE SCREENING — The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia

Saturday, October 12, 2013

1 — 3p.m.

Groves Academy, 3200 Hwy 100 South, St. Louis Park, MN

Registration is free, but space is limited!

Join IDA-UMB and Groves Academy for a free screening of the HBO film, The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, directed by Robert Redford’s son and the father of a child with dyslexia. The film provides personal and uplifting accounts of the dyslexic experience from children, experts and iconic leaders. The screening will be followed by comments and a question-and-answer session with Head of School, John Alexander, IDA-UMB President Kelly O’Rourke Johns, Executive Director of The Reading Center, Cindy Russell, and others.

The Reading Center’s Dyslexia Simulation: Walk in My Shoes

October 15, 2013

7 — 8:30 p.m.

Premier Bank, North Broadway and 37th Street, 3145 Wellner Drive NE, Rochester, MN

Is there a dyslexic person in your life? Do you teach a dyslexic student? You will learn what it can feel like to be dyslexic in school when you participate in this Dyslexia Simulation. The session will last 1 1⁄2 hours and is highly participatory. Appropriate for older teens through adults.

Film Screenings – Dislecksia: The Movie

Thursday, October 17, 2013

3 locations:

Carmike 10 Theatre, 230 Knollwood Drive, Rapid City, SD – 7 p.m.

Cinemark Century 14, 2400 South Carolyn, Sioux Falls, SD – 7 p.m.

TBA, Minneapolis, MN – 7 p.m

A powerfully touching and entertaining documentary that mixes humor and perspective with insight and analysis, DISLECKSIA: THE MOVIE explores many of the misconceptions surrounding dyslexia, while underlining the need for stronger awareness, early identification and social change.

No stranger to the condition, director Harvey Hubbell V explores dyslexia through a very human, personal lens, weaving his own lifelong experience, the research of scientists and the practice of educators, with the individual experiences of celebrities, politicians, and adults and children living with dyslexia.

Intergenerational, multicultural and socio-economically diverse, DISLECKSIA: THE MOVIE presents a complete picture and the most current information on dyslexia, promotes positive messaging, explores the power of family and community and is the first film to offer an alternative perspective of dyslexia as a learning difference, rather than a disability.

Panel Discussion: Successful Adults with Dyslexia

October 24, 2013

6:30 p.m.

Rochester Public Library Auditorium, 101 2nd Street SE, Rochester, MN

Registration is free but space is limited.

People with dyslexia are disproportionately represented among entrepreneurs and CEOs. Come to this panel discussion involving local individuals who are successful in their fields not despite of, but BECAUSE of dyslexia.

Parents, teachers and students (later grade school age and up) are encouraged to attend this discussion with local, successful adults who struggled with dyslexia throughout their schooling years, yet have found success in their careers. Hear their personal stories, learn some of their coping mechanisms and be inspired by how they became successful in a world of print.

Participants include: Dr. Brooks Edwards, Director, Transplant Center, Mayo Clinic; Lisa Stelzner, Senior Account Manager, Tempus Nova; Donn Sorensen, President, Mercy East Regional Medical Center

What do I do if my child is struggling with reading?

Hope you win the lottery.  Seriously.

First, I’m so sorry.  It’s painful.  It’s difficult to have your child’s independent reading sheet look like this.

blank reading sheet

You begin to wonder what you did wrong and what more you should have done.  Listening to others talk about how their kindergartener is reading and equating that to intelligence or fantastic parenting or how often they brought their child to the library can be heart wrenching , especially when you thought your child was kinda smart, you were and OK parent and you have enough library fines to prove you do in fact visit libraries.  You wonder what is wrong with your child that should be on the road to reading, but for some reason is just not getting it.  The child that you thought was so normal in preschool is suddenly struggling and you feel like you are in the middle of an incredibly slow moving train wreck.

As the parent of this child, you need to find some resources and educate yourself about what dyslexia is and what it isn’t.

The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as:

It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Studies show that individuals with dyslexia process information in a different area of the brain than do non-dyslexics.

Many people who are dyslexic are of average to above average intelligence.

A great book is Overcoming Dyslexia.  But beware, if you are like me you can read a book on ANY SUBJECT and start diagnosing yourself, your children and especially…your spouse.  A related website is the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.  There is a lot of great information here about interventions and advocacy.

Your first resource should be your child’s teacher.  If you have a good relationship with him/her and you trust them, be very honest and share your worries, observations and fears.  Everyone learns to read at different times.  If you child is behind, but making progress, its possible they are just a late bloomer.  But, if interventions have already been tried, no progress is being made, and there are no other reasons why reading should be struggle then its time to look for help.

Another good resource is your pediatrician.  These people see a WIDE range of children and many times have a good feel for when to worry and when not to worry.  Many times doctors have a good educational psychologist they can recommend if this is the direction you should go.

If you live in the Twin Cities, I suggest people contact Groves Academy.  It’s very expensive, but you can trust they are going to do a very thorough job assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your child and helping you come up with a plan.  I believe that going to an educational psychologist is very important for learning disabilities.  Sometimes a neuropsychologist or something who works more in a hospital setting doesn’t have the educational background and they give a different battery of tests and someone with an education background.  #2 was tested twice within months of each other with VERY different results.  The difference came with the educational psychologist giving him a phonemic awareness test, whereas the neuropsychologist left that out.  Without a test on phonemic awareness there is no way to diagnose dyslexia, since this is one of the telltale signs.  Sadly, if you rely on the school district, many times the help your child needs can take months or even years.  Of course, you will still need to go through the school district to get direct help from them, but if you already have an assessment in your hands from an outside source, many times teachers will use this information for accomadations, interventions and to move a 504 or IEP forward.

While all this is going on, continue reading out loud to your child and/or have them listen to books.  There are many ways to read, and reading with your eyes is just one way to enjoy books.  Listening is another great way.  The important thing is that your child views books as something enjoyable and something “for them.”

Another word of advice, find support, especially from other parents who understand the pain of having a child that struggles in school.  Having a child that struggles can be very isolating.  It’s really easy to feel judged, because, let’s be honest, there is a lot of stigma that goes along with having a child that is struggling in school.  If you can’t find someone near you, keep checking back with this blog!  One of my goals about being so open with my journey is to help other parents know they are not alone.

Last word of advice….go for a run.