1. Encouraging Environment
  2. Individualized Instruction
  3. Personalized Programs
  4. Skilled Staff
  5. Accelerated Academics
  6. Athletic Access 
  7. Picture Perfect Parks
  8. Terrific Teamwork
  9. Creative Crafts
  10. Decidedly Different

Momentum Tutoring is now interviewing families that are interested in exploring the idea of MOMENTUM HYBRID HOMESCHOOL… intentionally created to provide personalized education with the support of mentors and fellow student colleagues.

We have completed our first year of the pilot HYBRID HOMESCHOOL  program and are blown away by our student successes.

Email Terri Today at momentumtutoring@cox.net to arrange an interview that will  help us determine if MOMENTUM HYBRID HOMESCHOOL is the right choice for your student.

Start 2017 on the right foot!


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Summer News Private Tutoring | Camps | Fun Fridays

Momentum Summer Camps focus on straight A’s… ACTIVITY, ACADEMICS, and ART!
Camps are open to students ages 5 years – 12 years. We provide each student with a pre-camp assessment, a personal curriculum, work materials, tutoring, weekly progress reports, and student incentives.
Enroll in as many weeks as you like, but do so soon! We limit the amount of students we serve at camp to 20 students per week. Enroll between March 14 – April 28 and save 10% on your summer camp tuition. Email Terri at momentumtutoring@cox.net to get on our list!

Each summer we have a different theme that keeps the team focused. We serve a diverse group of students with a wide range in abilities and needs. Having a common theme allows us to keep a community feel within the camp.
During Summer 2016 students will leave North America and travel to a new and exciting continent! We will learn all about the sports, geography, population, currency, food, music, and arts found on different continents and compare them to our home continent North America. Each day camp runs Monday through Thursday and is broken into three portions. You may enroll in full day or partial day.
ACTIVITY CAMP …9:00-11:30 We start with activity in the morning in order to get out and about before the sun gets too hot. Activity Camp focuses on new sports, new skills, endurance, community awareness and teamwork. Daily walking field trips to different locations such as local parks, YMCA and Santee Library. ($50 per week)
ACADEMICS CAMP … 11:30-2:30 When the sun is high in the sky, we retreat to our air conditioned center to work on reading, writing, and math. Academics Camp focuses on developing study habits, building skills, and increasing student self esteem. Students that keep their brains in gear during the summer tend to avoid the “summer Slide” and transition into their new school year with more confidence. ($200 per week)
ART CAMP … 2:30-4:00 We finish each day with arts and crafts. Art Camp focuses on new projects each week. Lessons and activities build skills, and provide students chances to experiment with color, texture and design. Daily music lessons included. ($50 per week)
BEFORE AND AFTER CARE AVAIlABLE ( $5 per 30 minutes)
FUN FRIDAYS … 9:00-4:00 Fridays are our day to cut loose from the routine. Each FUN FRIDAY is full of Creative Writing Workshops, Math Investigations, Science Experiments, Art Projects, Outdoor Adventures, Creative Challenges and more! ( $50 per week)
PRIVATE TUTORING…7:30-8:30AM/9:30-11:00AM/4:00-7:00PM Reserve time for your student to work on reading, writing, and math, during the summer months. You can bring your own workbooks or we can create a personalized curriculum. ( There is a materials fee for the customized summer curriculum) Prices vary according to session length.

All the art work from the summer is eligible to be submitted into Momentum’s Annual ART SHOW and OPEN HOUSE. September 9th, 2016.

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Homeschool from a Mom and Teacher’s Perspective

I taught 4th grade  for six years.  Then, when I had my first son, I decided to leave the classroom. I loved teaching, but having a class of 34 plus students every year was all consuming. I felt it was more behavior management than teaching.

After being just a mom for six months… I started my own tutoring business that grew into it’s own entity MOMENTUM TUTORING … helping students of all ages and abilities in significant ways.

It was about a year ago that a mom approached me and asked if I would “homeschool’ her student.

Student “S” has difficulty with reading and writing and  was severely struggling in the mainstream. Her 2nd and 3rd grade  teacher’s uncompromising attitude only caused anxiety and  failure in an otherwise smart and creative student.

Utter beliefe in the student lead me to say yes to homeschooling her. Seeing student “S” in a “Camp” classroom situation during summer 2015, and  fully understanding her needs, led me to open a homeschool program complete with classmates for the 2015-2016 school year.

In August 2015, Momentum began a homeschool program with students that had similar needs as student “S”. During the first week, my own son Dominic said he would like to be in my homeschool program .

Dominic tested G.A.T.E. within the SANTEE SCHOOL DISTRICT in 2014-2015.   I wondered if homeschooling him in a class with students that had dyslexia would be right for him. He told me he wasn’t being challenged in a class of 34 and he wanted to be a part of a more intimate class.  I was cautious, but looked forward to the opportunity of being with him every day.

Figuring out how to teach seven students with different curriculums and needs quickly tested all my experience and taught me to have support tutors.

Now, after six months of running the homeschool program, I couldn’t be more proud.

HOMESCHOOLING HAS absolutely met the needs of Student “S” and six other students including my own son.

I feel like I had so much more knowledge of what my son Is learning this year and really appreciated the bonding we were able to have everyday.












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Louisa Moats Debunks Five Popular Myths About Dyslexia

February 2016

This article has been repurposed from “Allegiance to the Facts: A Better Approach for Dyslexic Students” by Louisa Moats, from the January 2016 edition of IDA’s Examiner.

Moats 28

From the diverse perspectives of experts throughout the National Conference in Grapevine, one theme recurred: We will serve students and families better if we are informed by the facts. Louisa Moats breaks down five of the realities about dyslexia that parents and professionals must embrace.

  1. Dyslexia is not a gift.

Let’s start with the claim that dyslexia – whether mild, moderate, or severe – is a “gift”. This assertion appears grounded in the observation that some people who have trouble learning to read, write, spell or use language become very successful in life. People who have real trouble remembering printed words are said to “see things differently” or have special cognitive powers. Our best science indicates, however, problem-solving and creative abilities are not more dominate because a person has dyslexia. People with dyslexia may be very good at mechanical problem solving, graphic arts, spatial navigation, athletics, or abstract reasoning – or they may not be.

People who succeed in spite of their academic learning difficulties are a marvel – but their talents exist separate from, not because of, their language-based reading, spelling, or writing problems. Those who experience dyslexia often experience anxiety and other affective challenges. We should not assert that dyslexia and giftedness go hand in hand, or that students are better off because they are afflicted with this condition.

  1. Albert Einstein was not dyslexic.

Walter Isaacson’s definitive biography of Einstein affirms that he was “at the top of his class” in elementary school and, aside from a rebellious nature and oddities of speech, was academically outstanding. There are several websites that list famous people with diagnosed dyslexia, but Einstein is not one of them.

  1. We cannot predict who will respond to instruction.

While the science of early identification of students with potential reading disabilities has evolved, our ability to predict who will respond well to instruction has not. Several researchers emphasized that there is no way to know which of our students, who are at risk on screening, will be able to overcome their difficulties once intensive intervention is provided. We must implement excellent, systematic, informed reading and language instruction over a sufficient length of time to sort out whose reading and language can be normalized and who will be in need of an IEP and high levels of support for many years. As Jack Fletcher of the University of Houston said, teach first, then test if necessary; don’t test in order to find out who or what to teach.

  1. Phonological processing tests are not enough.

Not all students with reading difficulties will demonstrate a weakness or low score on a test of phonological processing or phonological awareness. While teaching phoneme awareness to groups of young children is of proven value for long-term outcomes, about 25 – 30% of students who have trouble learning to read do just fine on direct measures of phonological awareness. Such findings will eventually be explained by science. Meanwhile, we must be ready to teach all students who are having trouble developing basic reading and writing skill despite test results.

  1. Quick fixes don’t work.

Lastly, we should abandon the expectation that serious reading disabilities can be fixed or remediated in a few short lessons per week over a year or so. If evidence is going to drive our thinking, then all indicators point to this: screen the kids early; teach all the kids who are at risk, skillfully and intensively; and maintain the effort for as long as it takes. Meanwhile, nurture the students’ interests, aptitudes, and coping strategies and trust that most are going to make it in real life.

Copyright © 2016 International Dyslexia Association (IDA). We encourage sharing of Dyslexia Connection articles. If portions are cited, please make appropriate reference. Articles may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale. Permission to republish this article is available from info@interdys.org


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4 Common Advanced Language Spelling Errors 4 Common Advanced Language Spelling Errors

Dyslexia is a language-based disorder in individuals who, despite conventional classroom experience & average to above average intelligence, fail to attain the skills of reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes arithmetic. With the appropriate tools and strategies to enhance literacy skills, such as the Orton-Gillingham Approach, those with Dyslexia are able find optimal success.

There are 4 common advanced language spelling errors made by those with Dyslexia. Let’s take a look at each:


4 Common Advanced Language Spelling Errors Made by Those with Dyslexia


  1. Addition or omission of sounds or letters (ex. Begain/began, compition/competition)
  • Teacher will: (only go through as many steps as are necessary to elicit a correct recall)
    • Ask the student to read what is written
    • Ask the student to trace the letters written & sound aloud what his/her hand is tracing & actually writing


  1. Transposition of letter order (ex. Perdict/predict)
  • Teacher will: (only go through as many steps as are necessary to elicit a correct recall)
    • Ask the student to read what is written
    • Ask the student to trace the letters written & sound aloud what his/her hand is tracing & actually writing


  1. Incorrect spelling choice (ex. Jelous/jealous)
  • Teacher will: (only go through as many steps as are necessary to elicit a correct recall)
    • If the student is able to recognize the error, ask the student to isolate the sound & write the multiple spellings of that sound that s/he knows.
    • If the student is not able to recognize the error, the teacher will indicate the problem by underlining or circling it.
    • Once the student is aware of the error, then ask him to isolate the sound & write the possible ways of spelling that sound that s/he knows, crossing out those that do not apply (final position spelling for a middle position sound).
    • Ask student to write the word with another spelling choice.


  1. Failure to apply a spelling rule or generalization (studyed/studied)
  • Teacher will:
    • Ask student to read what is written
    • Give the student the rule
    • Ask student to write the word correctly several times
    • Dictate other words with the same pattern to the student


Other Considerations During Spelling

  1. Occasionally, ask the student to complete a writing sample during the spelling portion of an Orton-Gillingham lesson plan. Ask student to sound aloud and self-edit & with continued practice, mastery of difficult language units will eventually take place.


  1. Analyze letter units and placement in a word (ex. /ai/ (middle of the word) & /ay/ (end of a word)


  1. Short vowel signals
    1. –ck
    2. –tch
    3. –dge
    4. Floss rule (-ff, -ll, -ss, -zz)
  2. Roots of latin origin ending in /ct/ expand into /-tion/ (ex. Act/action)


  1. Words from the Greek use /ph/ for the /f/ sound.


  1. Words from the Greek use /ch/ for the /k/ sound.


  1. Words from the Greek use /y/ for the /long/short i/ sound.


  1. Reemphasize the elements of language needed to solve dilemma about a word
    1. If a student writes “rumey” for the word “roomy,” the teacher should ask the student for the base word. Once the base word becomes clear for the student, he should be able to discern that the suffix –y was added to “room” to make “roomy.”
    2. For the word “competition,” ask the student for the root word. When the student recognizes the root word is “compete,” it should then become clear that the “e” is dropped and the suffix /-ition/ is added.


  1. Be sure to add non-phonetic words to the spelling portion of the lesson plan. This provides an authentic opportunity for the student to practice the accurate spelling of these words.


Providing tools and strategies, as well as prompts to tap into the student’s metacognition to self-correct, will minimize the 4 common advanced language spelling errors made by those with Dyslexia. The Orton-Gillingham Approach not only teaches the foundational literacy skills, but it also is a cognitive Approach that transitions a student through the advanced language continuum in a structure, systematic, and multisensory fashion. As a result, the student develops a “mental toolbox” that is organized sequentially and contains all of the phonemes, morphemes, rules, patterns, and concepts taught during the remedial learning experience. This rewiring of the neural pathways enables the student to be successful with his literacy skills, as well as self-correct when errors are made.


I hope this information is helpful to you as you teach your students the English language. Keep doing what you are doing because the world needs what only you have to offer!

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Teaching Strategies Understanding Dyslexia and the Reading Brain in Kids

At a recent talk for special education teachers at the Los Angeles Unified School District, child development professor Maryanne Wolf urged educators to say the word dyslexia out loud.

“Don’t ever succumb to the idea that it’s going to develop out of something, or that it’s a disease,” she recalled telling teachers. “Dyslexia is a different brain organization that needs different teaching methods. It is never the fault of the child, but rather the responsibility of us who teach to find methods that work for that child.”

Wolf, who has a dyslexic son, is on a mission to spread the idea of “cerebrodiversity,” the idea that our brains are not uniform and we each learn differently. Yet when it comes to school, students with different brains can often have lives filled with frustration and anguish as they, and everyone around them, struggle to figure out what is wrong with them.

Diagnosing Dyslexia 

“Oh, she just hasn’t caught up yet,” is what Zanthe Taylor recalled her daughter Calliope’s teachers saying throughout first and second grades. Calliope, now 12, was in the slowest reading group at her Brooklyn private school, but teachers assured Taylor that Calliope was very bright and would catch up shortly.

In truth, Calliope wasn’t catching up. As peers began whizzing past her in reading, Taylor became more anxious and worried. Their collective frustration levels — both Calliope’s and her parents—soon reached a breaking point, especially after they’d hired a private tutor to help speed up her reading in the fall of second grade.

“She’d have massive tantrums over homework,” Taylor said. Calliope would be happy and fine all afternoon, but when it came time to do homework, she would refuse to begin. “She would scream and cry, then I would scream and cry,” Taylor said. “I once crumpled up the whole assignment and yelled, ‘What are we going to do?’ ”

Then one night, after four months of intensive (and expensive) tutoring, Taylor’s husband, Matthew, was talking to Calliope’s tutor on the phone when she mentioned the word “dyslexia.” A light went on. Taylor recalled that up to that point, everyone had been very careful not to say the word, but the tutor suggested that it might be time to have Calliope officially evaluated in order to receive more targeted instruction.

An intensive two-day battery of tests provided the data that Taylor, by this time, already knew: Calliope had dyslexia. Although she was very bright and displayed above-average social skills, without intense and specific intervention, she would never “catch up” in reading.

Taylor now knows that an overly emotional response to homework is common in those with dyslexia: Calliope didn’t know why she couldn’t read either. Now with a diagnosis and intensive intervention, Calliope is entering seventh grade with her peers. She’s able to accomplish all the work, although she requires more time. “I always disliked the words ‘learning differences,’ ” Taylor said. “But the more I get to know about this, the more I think it’s true.”

This kind of anxiety and frustration can be largely avoided, said Wolf, who is also director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University and author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.” She and colleague Martha Denckla designed a simple test to quickly know whether there is a problem in the reading circuit very early on, as early as kindergarten or first grade. Called the RAN/RAS test (Rapid Automatized Naming/Rapid Alternating Stimulus), students are timed on how fast they can name letters, numbers, colors and objects.

RAN/RAS or a comparable evaluation is one of the single best predictors that there’s something different in how the brain is putting together letters with their name, which is like a mini-version of the later reading circuit. While RAN/RAS cannot diagnose a reading problem, it does provide educators with a red flag, suggesting that students may need further evaluation.

In “Proust and the Squid,” Wolf writes that if she were given five minutes with all teachers and parents everywhere, she’d want them most to know that “learning to read, like Red Sox baseball, is a wonderful thing that can go wrong for any number of reasons.” For students accused of being stubborn or not working to their potential, often neither is true: Children with dyslexia need immediate and intensive intervention to connect the pieces of the reading circuit.

The Science of Reading and Dyslexia

The act of reading itself is anything but natural. Human brains weren’t designed to read: There is no “reading center” of the brain, and there are no “reading genes.” Instead, in order to read, each brain must fashion new circuits between parts originally designed to do other things, like retrieving the names for objects. These new circuits must not only combine many processes from different areas of the brain to form a specialized circuit just for reading — in order to become a fluent reader, the circuit also needs to run lightning-fast, nearly automatic.

Wolf has spent her career studying how the brain reads and, in some cases, how it doesn’t. “Because we have no pre-programmed wiring for reading [in the brain], we have to do something very different,” Wolf said. “What the brain does have — which is fantastic — is the ability to make new circuits based on new connections among its already-there parts. So, when I said [in the book] we were never born to read, that is the absolute truth. We weren’t. Each child has to do it by themselves.”

Since each brain must learn to read from scratch, as Wolf put it, “many things can happen along the way.” Dyslexia, originally called word-blindness, is a neurobiological condition describing the failure to read words and letters affecting an estimated 10-20 percent of schoolchildren, depending on whom you ask.

While classified as a “learning disability,” dyslexia is not a brain disorder or a disease, nor is it flipping letters backward. Often the failure to read is in direct opposition to a brain’s cognitive ability, leaving parents and teachers stymied when an otherwise intelligent child can’t spell words they’ve seen a thousand times, or put a sentence together.

Dyslexia, Wolf said, is the result of a brain that’s organized in a different way. In many children, this is because the right hemisphere tries to muscle the strengths of the left, specifically at tasks that are the domain of the left, like many language functions. When the reading circuit is being dominated by the right hemisphere, it takes longer for the information that goes to both hemispheres to get together.

In the dyslexic brain, there are several major areas that could develop problematically. (While there is no singular form of dyslexia, there are several profiles that appear most prominently.)

* Phoneme awareness, or knowing the sounds that correspond with letters and words, is the No. 1 deficiency in the dyslexic brain. “Our language is made up of 44 sounds called phonemes,” Wolf said. “English is trickier because we have phonemes that can be expressed in different letters, and we have letters that can stand for different phonemes. It’s an irregular language, and that adds to the complexity, but the underlying issue for many, but not all, children is problems in the basic representation of those phonemes.” Wolf said there are multiple areas of the brain contributing to our ability to represent phonemes, and that many dyslexic children have issues with developing phonemes, as well as knowing which sounds are assigned to which letters.

* Fluency, or getting the reading circuit to work together quickly, is the second-biggest issue.  “Children can have perfectly represented phonemes, but can’t get the phonemes together with the letters, because there’s a speed-of-processing issue,” Wolf said. “And part of that may well be because that right hemisphere is taking a longer time and trying to do what the left hemisphere usually does, in getting that circuit to work very fast together. That can mean not just the phonemes aren’t represented very well. It might also mean that letters aren’t getting represented very well, and that the circuit is not becoming automatic.”

* Comprehension is the third but no less crucial issue to reading. “After making letters and sounds work together, and getting the whole circuit to work in time, then words have to be connected to meanings and functions of grammar,” Wolf said. “It takes explicit work to get the visual representation, meaning, sound and grammatical function all working together, and that’s what dyslexic children must do.” Wolf said that often this kind of dyslexia doesn’t show itself until the child is older, third grade and up, when a child switches from learning to read to reading to learn.

“Some of our children can read words, but read them laboriously,” Wolf said. “And by fourth grade they’re a major failure and have never become fluent.” Many of these children are bright and have compensated up to this point by memorizing words, but have never learned to read fast enough to comprehend what they’re reading.

Understanding that these developments are nothing more than brain differences that can be aided with systematic and explicit instruction, Wolf said, is a large but necessary step for everyone involved: students, parents and teachers. When children find they’re unable to read or read with much difficulty, they often believe that it’s the result of a bad or broken brain. Some teachers may also unwittingly hold beliefs that reading happens for all children by a kind of osmosis.

Wolf insists that three decades of research has shown that neither are true, but keeping the truth about dyslexia hidden or misunderstood only hurts the students, their parents and the educators trying desperately to help them.

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What a 10 Year Old with Dyslexia Wants the World to Know – Unedited

October 7, 2015

What a 10 Year Old with Dyslexia Wants the World to Know – Unedited

We first met 10 year old Leia via social media last year when she wrote and published her own book, The Dyslexic RenegadeIn honor of Dyslexia Awareness month, we asked Leia to guest author a blog for us. Here is what she wants the world to know about dyslexia, in her own unedited words.

* * * * * *

I’m Leia. I’m now 10 and I am dyslexic. I want the world to know that dyslexia is important. Without dyslexia the 10407039_347372072120584_8776245373416555971_nworld would be boring. We would not have Disney World because Walt Disney was Dyslexic. We also would not have Patrisha Pulocko’s books. We also would not have Albert Einstein’s quotes and phares which are very encraging and his phizicks.

I found out I am dyslexic last year. I thout I was dumb and didn’t not know a lot. I thout I had a disease. My tecachers were not halping me. They rolled their eyes at me when I asked for help! That made me feel like I didn’t count. I didn’t want to go to school. Learning about other dyslexics made me feel better. It meant that I am smart really just not in school. Now I go to school for kids who are dyslexic. I like it there. The work is hard but it makes sence. I feel smart there and no one rolls ther eyes. I had a hard time with my math homework and my teacher made manipulatives to try and they worked. I got to use the peics to help and it worked.

1800076_10204836380288984_6565529523312290074_oI want the world to know that dyslexics are smart. I want the world to know that if you are dyslexic then you should not be imbarisd. The more we tell people the more people will know and the more people will be happy to know more dyslexics. Maybe one day work will want people who are dyslexic because they do things diferntly. I want the world to know that different isn’t bad. I want the world to know that I don’t like the word disability, it herts my feelings. I can do everything.  I want the world to know that I don’t like the words speshul needs and I don’t like speshul edication. My teachers who couldn’t teach me need speshul edication to learn how to teach kids like me. They should learn in collge.

I want the world to know that teachers should learn in collge how to teach dyslexics so no one feels like I usd to. leia draftingI want the world to know that what happened to me in school happens to a lot. I feel bad about that.

I also want the world to know that I am Leia and I am dyslexic and I love to write. I don’t care about my spelling. I know I make mistakes but I like my mistakes. They are pretty and they make senc. I wrote a book because I wanted to.


Follow Leia on social media here. Also, make sure to check out Learning Ally’s services for students like Leia on our Explore 1in5 website. Learning Ally members can find her book in the audiobook library here.

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– Jules Johnson

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Dyslexia runs in family trees…

Dyslexia runs in family trees.  That’s why the biggest risk factor is known or suspected dyslexia in the family tree.

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U.S. Department of Education Encourages Schools to Use the Terms “Dyslexia,” “Dysgraphia” and “Dyscalculia” in IEPs

It’s always been OK to say “dyslexia,” “dysgraphia” or “dyscalculia” in an IEP. But now the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is encouraging states and school systems nationwide to use these terms when appropriate. They’re also reminding them that there’s nothing in the law that says they shouldn’t use those words.

On October 23, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) clarified the use of these terms in a Dear Colleague letter. That letter encourages states to remind their districts to use the terms in IEPs, at IEP meetings and in evaluations used in determining eligibility for special education services.

The letter also encourages:

  • States and districts “to consider situations where it would be appropriate to use the terms to address the child’s unique, identified needs”
  • States “to review their policies, procedures, and practices to ensure that they do not prohibit the use of the terms”
  • States to remind their districts of “the importance of addressing the unique educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities resulting from dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia”

It may seem surprising that this clarification was necessary. But OSEP said it has learned that some states and schools are “reluctant to reference or use ‘dyslexia,’ ‘dyscalculia,’ and ‘dysgraphia’ in evaluations, eligibility determinations, or in developing” IEPs for children with learning and attention issues.”

And in some cases, parents have been told that their state does not recognize dyslexia. That’s why OSEP decided to make the law clear.

A number of organizations have noticed this problem, too. “Parents across the nation reported to us that school districts in IEP meetings or other meetings refused to say the word ‘dyslexia,’ refused to put it in an IEP, saying we don’t recognize that word. That caused a lot of confusion for parents whose kids had those diagnoses,” says Lindsay Jones. Jones is the director of public policy and advocacy for the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), a founding partner of Understood. “They would also say that about dyscalculia and dysgraphia.”

That’s why this past May, NCLD sent its own letter to ED. The letter asked the department to make it clear that schools can use the terms “dyslexia,” “dysgraphia” or “dyscalculia,” Jones says.

A dozen other national disability groups also signed the letter. In July, 28 members of Congress sent a similar letter. And in August, several members of Decoding Dyslexia started a Twitter campaign, #SayDyslexia, to harness support from parents.

IDEA doesn’t require that a child’s disability be included in an IEP. But adding the kind of information that’s laid out in the Dear Colleague letter may help kids achieve their IEP goals and make progress in the general education classroom.

Jones said OSEP’s letter is a positive step in getting services and supports for all kids with specific learning disabilities—services tailored to their needs. “But we’ll never get those services if we can’t even speak the same language in the meetings,” she added.

Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.

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20 Things Only Parents Of Children With Dyslexia Would Understand

20 Things Only Parents Of Children With Dyslexia Would Understand

Communication by

Dyslexia. It’s a word many parents dread when they hear it in reference to their own children. What their “lay” minds take in is that they have a child who will face struggles throughout his/her schooling and in life. Dyslexia never goes away. There is no medication to mitigate the symptoms; worse, it is an invisible disability which (if undiagnosed) subjects the sufferer to lots of misunderstanding and criticism for things over which s/he has not control.

As parents research their child’s dyslexia and receive information from the experts, they come to understand many things that they want others to understand as well. Here’s 20 of them.
1. They read differently.

The brain anatomy of a dyslexic child is different. The area that understands language operates differently than the average individual’s. The brain has to translate symbols on the page of a book (for example) into sounds. The sounds then have to be combined to make meaningful words. The parts of the brain that do this are not as well developed with dyslexia, so affected children will have to engage different parts of their brains to compensate. Part of this compensation is enhanced by specialized reading programs which are research based and multi-sensory, as well as by audio books that allow kids to keep up with their classmates in school.
2. They cannot overcome dyslexia by reading more.

Those who do not understand dyslexia (including some teachers) think if parents just read to their children more, and if elementary aged children are just forced to read more, somehow the dyslexia will be “cured.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While reading to a dyslexic child has great benefits (I.E. information, exposure, stimulation of imagination), it will not help him/her become a better reader. Likewise, forcing a dyslexic child to just read more, in a traditional manner, only leads to frustration, anger, and behavioral issues. It is the equivalent of forcing an adult to go to a job every day at which s/he cannot perform the tasks and is not ever given the training to acquire the skills to perform them. How long would that adult remain on that job?
3. They are not lazy or unmotivated.

The undiagnosed dyslexic kid is often labeled as these things both in the classroom and at home. However, remember to consider the following issues:

– They may not hear multi-step instructions. While the 2nd and 3rd instructions are being given, their brains are still processing the first

– In school, during reading class, they are still de-coding the first sentence while classmates have moved on to the 5th or 6th.

– It takes them far longer to complete worksheets and tests. When they do not get things finished, the teacher may be inclined to keep them in from recess to make them finish. What they don’t understand is that this child is exhausted from the effort just to complete what he has, and needs a break just as much as his peers.
4. They often need tutoring outside of school.

If the tutoring is designed for kids with dyslexia, some studies have shown, the brain actually changes (this is called neuroplasticity) and “rewires” itself, resulting in enhanced reading skills. For the older student, facing essays and papers for which research must be completed, as well as the normal rounds of standardized testing that come at specific milestone points in schooling, tutoring for reading, writing, and test taking must continue. Private tutoring services that have specialists for kids with learning disabilities are numerous in both the United States and in the UK. With their help and their special approach, children with dyslexia can pass any type of exam, including 11 plus mock exams easily.
5. They don’t “see” the world backwards.

Yes, they occasionally reverse letters and words, but that is because those words and letters appear differently to them on the printed page. What they view in the world, they often see holistically (rather than in detail). They have a grand ability to see what is “out of place.” Carol Grieder, a molecular biologist with dyslexia, won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2009 because as she looked at DNA molecules through a microscope, she saw something that should not be there. She discovered a new and extremely important enzyme that is today the subject of cancer and aging research. In this case, her dyslexia was a wonderful “gift” to the world.
6. They need “ear reading”.

This is the term advocates and parents use for audio books. While the obvious benefit is that are able to stay up to date with their classmates in all content areas (textbook publishers all offer their publications in audio format), they are also able to conduct research and to complete book reports/reviews. Another benefit is an increased vocabulary and the ability to “hear” good grammar.
7. They need accommodations in school, at all levels.

While they may not always qualify for an IEP, there are other individual plans that can be put into place that allow for longer assignment and test-taking time, modified assignments (e.g. half of the spelling word list), and orally provided exams.
8. They can be disorganized.

Their failure to have attention to detail causes disorganization, impacting both school and home life. Their rooms may be messier than most, and cleaning them up is truly challenging. At a young age, parents would do well to “walk” dyslexic children through each step of the process for cleaning their rooms and putting things in proper places. In school, older children specifically may have difficulty organizing and managing their time, and may need lots of tools, such as cell phone alarms, a picture schedule, and so forth.
9. They feel dumb and stupid.

They are aware that others in their classrooms are reading better, are completing assignments on time, and do not take as long to learn things. This can really impact self-esteem over time, causing them to withdraw. Teachers must capitalize on strengths and interests, and publicly recognize them in the classroom. Parents need to promote their kids’ strengths and talents with outside activities. Art, music, sports, designing, building, and science are typical areas of strength. Having successes and recognition for those successes is extremely important for adult productivity and happiness.
10. They need to socialize.

When their bad feelings about themselves cause them to withdraw, they may cease to involve themselves in social activities or in making new friends. It is important that parents of young children take a proactive approach to socialization. This may include joining a support group, in which there will be plenty of opportunity for their children to be involved in activities, or enrolling them in clubs, Scouts, or sporting activities. Older children must be encouraged to get involved in activities that will support and reinforce their strengths or talents. For teens, getting a part-time job can be huge!
11. They have average to above-average intelligence.

There is nothing wrong with educators and parents sharing good news with these kids about their IQs. They should continue to re-enforce the facts that a huge number of highly successful people had/have dyslexia. Here’s a few: Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise, Muhammed Ali, Steve Jobs, Tommy Hilfiger, Picasso, and Richard Branson. There is virtually no field in which dyslexic people have not excelled.
12. They need technology.

There are a number of apps which have been recommended by medical and psycho/educational professionals that serve dyslexic students well, from those that convert any text to audio, to voice-command word processing programs, to phonetic skill building in gaming formats. Schools should be cognizant of needs and ensure that these tools are available.
13. They are exhausted by detail.

This pertains particularly to reading and to worksheets in math that are “cluttered.” Spreading content out in larger print and recommended fonts will help a great deal. They will also need frequent breaks. While other students can focus on an activity that involves reading and writing, and accomplish a great deal in a 20-30 minute period, the dyslexic child will complete far less and need breaks after 10 minutes of focus. Beyond that, they will complain of headaches and dizziness.
14. They see what others do not.

Dyslexic children will state the words on a page are moving, that they are alternating between light and dark, or that they are flip-flopping. It is easy to think that they are making this up; however, they are not. It is important to validate what they are seeing as “real” for them.
15. They are visual thinkers.

They learn by pictures and hands-on experiences. This is one reason that many do well in lab sciences. They also remember in pictures. If they can be given visual representations of concepts, they will cement that in their memories. What they read will not be cemented unless there are other senses involved as they read.
16. They should not be “lumped” together as one.

Dyslexic kids are individuals. Their disabilities come in all ranges. Some may exhibit symptoms of ADD, while others will not. Some have real difficulty putting thoughts into words, while others are much more verbal. Some are of average intellectual ability, while others are truly gifted. Some have “acting out behavior;” while others are too quiet. It is unfair to treat all dyslexic children as if they are one homogeneous group.
17. They are frustrated with their disability.

While others who live and work with these kids can certainly become frustrated, it is important to be empathetic. Try putting yourself in the kid’s place and see dyslexia through the eyes of the person actually living it. These kid needs support and encouragement, not disapproving remarks, like “try harder.” S/he is trying!
18. They will be dyslexic for a lifetime.

But with strong interventions and flexibility on the part of teachers, they can develop methods to compensate, earn college degrees, and take their places in many career niches.
19. They can add great value to an organization.

Because they tend to be creative and are visual thinkers, they are often able to “see” solutions that others cannot. In these cases, being dyslexic is a strength in itself.
20. Their sense of hearing is exceptional.

Perhaps because their ability to use their eyes well to learn, the sense of hearing has strengthened, just as it is for those who are blind. However, they are often unable to filter out all of the sounds around them, greatly impacting their ability to focus. The use of headphones when they are engaged in audio learning will help them greatly.

Each of us have strengths and areas of challenge. Our children with dyslexia are no different. Unfortunately, learning has been so intimately tied to reading that they have been at a clear disadvantage. Things are rapidly changing; however, in this wonderful age of technology. We are reaching a point at which we will be able to honor all learning styles, not just those that have traditionally met with success.

Featured photo credit: Rick&Brenda Beerhorst / girls with butterfly book via flickr.com

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Dianna Labrien

Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She’s a passionate traveler, slightly addicted to apps and always in search of new ways to make her life simpler. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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