behavioral health children's behavior parenting

What to Do When Your Child Has a Learning Difference

October 22, 2017

My son, C. is seven years old, in second grade and reads on a kindergarten level.

My husband and I began to get worried in kindergarten when we realized he had memorized the wall in the classroom. At the time, the words were velcroed to the wall so the children could take them to their seat for writing. I realized he had no idea what the word said once it was off the wall. In first grade, his teacher recognized he was struggling, and he received intensive reading support every day at school.
However for a bright child, even with private tutoring, he didn’t make much progress, struggling to decode three letter words.

We decided that we had enough.

If we waited for the district, we could take months. However, he has begun to say things like, “I’ll never read” and the most crushing, “I’m stupid.” It’s made worse by the fact that his twin is an advanced reader, which magnifies his shortcomings.

We paid for private testing with a highly recommended licensed school psychologist. She has an excellent reputation and often works with our district. She tested him over four sessions. When he started to get frustrated, they would stop and wait until the next meeting. Our insurance covered the testing.

We also tested his vision. We visited a pediatric ophthalmologist two hours away for specialized testing because the psychologist noticed he has tracking difficulties. He received glasses for reading. We are still waiting for all the vision testing results.

callan glasses

Taking him to all his assessments became a part-time job. Because I was tasking him during the day, things didn’t get done as quickly as usual. One thing that lapsed was this blog.

The results weren’t surprising. Our son is dyslexic, and like most learning disabled people, extremely bright. He has some significant vision tracking issues. Now, we begin the treatment phase. Currently, he is going to private Orton Gillingham based tutoring twice a week in addition to the individual instruction at school. When we get his vision results in, it will probably involve vision therapy weekly (this will have to occur during the school day).

I haven’t even met with our district yet…that is this week. I gave them a copy of his psychological. I have a meeting with the guidance counselor. After they receive his testing results, they have thirty days by state law to respond. his teacher has been great. Our son’s diagnosis was overlooked primarily because his classroom behavior is excellent. He is also sneaky. He is very adept at getting people to read for him, and he has a fantastic memory and an extensive vocabulary. I hope he now feels that he doesn’t have to compensate so much.

I reached out to a childhood friend who is an education attorney in our area. I wanted to see what I was supposed to provide versus what the district is obligated to do. She suggested he will need a technology evaluation because I plan to ask for adaptive programs in the classroom. For example, he can use the learning ally program so he can have auditory copies of all his books. I will purchase a C-Pen for his use (it’s a small handheld scanner that translates text into audio so he can “hear” written text. This won’t prevent him from learning to read but will make it less frustrating for him to complete his work. Because he has difficulty with written expression, we will ask for a “talk to text” program like Dragon Speak. One of the best books I have read about adaptive technology is Ben Foss’s Dyslexia Empowerment Plan.

I’ve got to be honest; this process has been exhausting. I feel less stressed now that OG tutoring is in place but that is an hour in the evening twice a week, and it requires nightly multisensory work in addition to the school homework. I’m nervous about negotiating with our district. Some days, I feel as though we’ve made a great deal of progress and we certainly have an instituted an outstanding treatment plan and other times it feels like a crushing weight of additional responsibilities. It is especially hard to balance this with the needs of four other children. However, in just a few short weeks my son has increased his confidence and seems more relaxed. When it gets hard and overwhelming, I try to focus on his progress. I’m thankful for all the experts we’ve met along the way, and we’ve been blessed with excellent insurance. So much had unfolded just when we needed it. The right doors have opened without a battle, and I take comfort in that.

I apologize for the lack of posting this month, but I’m hoping to get adjusted to this unsteady ground and back into a regular rhythm.


cal and kurk

our handsome men…one with new glasses


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2 Comments on "What to Do When Your Child Has a Learning Difference"

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Melonie K.

It sounds so exhausting, but like he’s already showing improvement. Good for you! I bet he feels so very loved and supported – wrapped up in all your loving help.

Love those glasses!!!

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