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nukeswife

HELP!!! 16 year old daughter still can't spell

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I'm really feeling lost.  My daughter is 16 and although she's a lovely girl and very gifted artist she struggles with spelling all the time.  We've tried every program out there from Spelling Workout, to spelling power, to AAS, and everything else we could think of.  Nothing sticks.  

I'm adding a picture of something she wrote today, it's scary.  I've had her tested.  At age 10 II had her evaluated because she also wasn't reading, they found a binocular dysfunction and she went through a year of vision therapy which helped immensely.  She's now an avid reader, but the spelling still isn't coming together. 

I have no idea how this girl will make it in college with this issue, it's not a matter of "spellcheck will be her best friend" it's such a problem even spellcheck doesn't catch a lot of it. 

Any suggestions are welcome. 

 

post-141-0-63556300-1515463278_thumb.jpg

post-141-0-63556300-1515463278_thumb.jpg

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Who did the evaluation and what were they evaluating for? What tests were run? Was it only a vision evaluation? Was it through a developmental optometrist? Has she ever had an evaluation through a neuropsychologist or edu psychologist?

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Was she evaluated for dyslexia?  Late reading and lingering spelling issues are common signs.

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Who did the evaluation and what were they evaluating for? What tests were run? Was it only a vision evaluation? Was it through a developmental optometrist? Has she ever had an evaluation through a neuropsychologist or edu psychologist?

She had many of them through various avenues, yes the VT was through a developmental optometrist, yes she was tested by a neuropsychologist 

 

Looks much better than my 14yo son...... did they test for dysgraphia?

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk

 

Yes. 

Was she evaluated for dyslexia?  Late reading and lingering spelling issues are common signs.

 

Yes. We were told she is not dyslexic. 

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Not all evaluators use the term "dyslexia" since it is not really an official diagnosis.  Is there a possibility the diagnosis is in the results but not the term "dyslexia"?  I ask because that has happened on this board before.  Someone posted results of an evaluation because they were confused that their child did not have dyslexia but had a lot of the issues.  Turns out the evaluation basically WAS indicating dyslexia but did not use that term.  

 

When your child reads out loud, how well does she do?  Does she decode accurately and with fluency?  Does she skip words, guess based on the first letter or first sound?  When spelling a word if she reads the word out loud afterwords can she tell that the word is misspelled?  

 

Either way, I would like to encourage you regarding your daughter's options.  While good spelling can be immensely helpful, it is not the be all and end all of existence.  FWIW, my husband is a very poor speller (his handwriting is also really bad).  My dad was never very good at spelling.  My nephew has abysmal (as in literally illegible even to him) handwriting and spelling.  They all went on to college and have all done well in their respective careers.  These stories are anecdotal I know but I am hoping to help you see that there are ways around deficits like this.  While you seek answers and helps I would not be giving up hope of your child going on to college if that is what she wants and that path would help her achieve her goals.

 

Have you tried scaffolding her with speech to text software?  That might help her with output.  

 

Also, FWIW, Barton Reading and Spelling turned DD's abysmal spelling issues around really well.  Even though she had vision issues and still does, Barton helped her to be able to spell when no other program had.  It also taught her how to use a spellchecker when she was uncertain of letters within the word.  And helped her internalize strategies for figuring out the spelling of words she had never seen.   She went from barely spelling anything well to spelling the majority of her words correctly.  It is an expensive program to use but each level usually sells for nearly the original purchase price.  Also, if a student gets through a level extremely quickly it can be exchanged for the next level up at no additional cost (besides maybe shipping) so if your child were to blow through Level 1 you could exchange it for Level 2, for instance.  It may be overkill for your scenario but I thought I would mention it since it really did help DD's spelling in dramatic ways.

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I agree with using Barton.

Go ahead and give her the Barton pre-test.

Since she doesn't seem to have trouble with reading, you could focus on the activities with nonsense words, but you may find that there are gaps in her skills that she has been compensating for without realizing.

 

When we started Barton I found out that my DS who was 10yrs old at the time could not rhyme. That should have been a red flag when he was in kinder and 1st grade, but he had tought himself a way to come up with one rhyming word. When he was asked to give more than one he could not do it.

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And for when spell checkers don't know.... a verbally activated device will likely. "Hey Siri (Alexa, Galaxy, whatever), how do you spell Repeat?" will likely work just fine...

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk

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We used Megawords 1 to go through the basic spelling rules.  That cleared up a lot...the kid knew most of the choices, but not the rules as far as which  one to pick if he couldn't recall.

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Apples and Pears is another unique spelling program that is designed for dyslexia.  It is simple to use.

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Yes. We were told she is not dyslexic. 

 

I would assume she is anyway and proceed accordingly.

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My younger ds (14) was/is similar.  2 years ago we started 'typing dictation.'  I would dictate the book to him and he would type it out.  This is not SWB dictation, this was/is spelling dictation.  I correct spelling word for word, and I purposely mispronounce the words to augment the correct spelling. This technique is called "think to spell" in SWR.  We don't do a lot of rules, because he knows them, but cannot apply them.  The problem is a lack of automation.  He can spell cat, but at age 12 would have to sound it out, and this would happen with every.single.word, and if it was irregular or there were multiple acceptable representations for a sound, he could not get it right.  

 

So at age 12, we started with Cat in the Hat, to make sure he could master the top 100 words.  We kept with it for about two months.  So 30 minutes a day and about 200 words at that point. Next book, was Frog and Toad I think. We slowly built up with books he liked and now he is using Eragon.  Each book is slightly harder in spelling, plus each book uses different words.  He currently mis-spells about 10-20% of the words in Eragon, and can now encode at about 15-20 words a minute.  I say 'encode' because if he is typing while looking at the text he can type at 40 words a minute.  The problem is not typing, it is the encoding, the spelling.

 

DS was identified as Dysgraphic, but scored at the top 80th percentile for spelling. (haha) The test was for spelling regular, made-up words.  Basically a test of if he knew the rules, but that is not the problem.  Spelling for him is just not automated. He had to sound out every single word which was crazy slow and he would forget what he was going to say, and at least 50% of the words would be spelled wrong.  What he needed was just *more* practice spelling. So now in addition to his compositions for WWS once a week, he does an additional 200-400 words a day through dictation.  We have come very far, and he is very motivated to continue.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Thanks all for you input, when reading out loud she does fine with pronunciation for the most part, typical issues with longer words that you'd expect her to have trouble with because they aren't commonly used.  All the small words that she has trouble with in spelling she can read with no problems. 

 

The concern I have for college is  where she may have to do an in class essay as a test/exam.  My son is going to the school she is currently planning to and his English 1010 final was an in class essay.  Something like that could tank her grade. 

After looking over Barton and AAS again, we decided to try AAS.  They now have an app, which was her biggest push back with that program.  We're going to make spelling and writing a bigger focus than we had been.  It may mean she reads less literature but sometimes sacrifices have to be made. 

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I really think AAS would help...you could start with level 2.   It's not childish in the way it teaches and it teaches the spelling rules systematically.   A lot of people internalize these rules without having to have them taught explicitly, but not all kids, and frankly, going through it with my son I'm learning things (OH, that's why they spell it like that kind of moments). 

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for that age what might help the most is using AAS and challenging her to write a paragraph using those words each week. Spelling ladders really help some kids. Keep reviewing previous words from weeks before that will help push it to longterm memory.  One thing you could do is just start at the beginning and see what happens. Once it starts to click you can figure out why and how to keep it going. 

 

I read an article that spelling actually uses different parts of the brain than reading.  I can't find that article but this daily mail article talks about how different areas of the brain respond to spelling with strokes. I found it fascinating but it might be of interest to someone here. It seems to talk about longterm vs short term memory. anyway here's the link. 

https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/02/01/stroke-brain-damage-spelling/

 

Edited by exercise_guru
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So at age 12, we started with Cat in the Hat, to make sure he could master the top 100 words.  We kept with it for about two months.  So 30 minutes a day and about 200 words at that point. Next book, was Frog and Toad I think. We slowly built up with books he liked and now he is using Eragon.  Each book is slightly harder in spelling, plus each book uses different words.  He currently mis-spells about 10-20% of the words in Eragon, and can now encode at about 15-20 words a minute.  I say 'encode' because if he is typing while looking at the text he can type at 40 words a minute.  The problem is not typing, it is the encoding, the spelling.

 

DS was identified as Dysgraphic, but scored at the top 80th percentile for spelling. (haha) The test was for spelling regular, made-up words.  Basically a test of if he knew the rules, but that is not the problem.  Spelling for him is just not automated. He had to sound out every single word which was crazy slow and he would forget what he was going to say, and at least 50% of the words would be spelled wrong.  What he needed was just *more* practice spelling. So now in addition to his compositions for WWS once a week, he does an additional 200-400 words a day through dictation.  We have come very far, and he is very motivated to continue.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Ruth, what did you do when he spelled a word wrong?  Did he practice it somehow?  Did you keep repeating the book until he had mastered all the words?  I love this idea and crave more details!

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I would have her quickly work through my 10 lesson Syllables spell success program and then my free online spelling lessons before starting AAS. Here are the links.

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/syllablesspellsu.html

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Spelling/spellinglessonsl.html

Edited by ElizabethB

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Ruth, what did you do when he spelled a word wrong?  Did he practice it somehow?  Did you keep repeating the book until he had mastered all the words?  I love this idea and crave more details!

 

No isolated practice or drill or testing has ever worked for this child. He needed to practice spelling in context because that is when he *uses* spelling. He needed to practice it in the exact way he would use it.  We continue with a book until he is spelling about 19 out of 20 of the words right, or if he is just ready for a different book.  The most he can misspell and still tolerate the book for dictation is about 1 in 7, so I have to chose carefully. We always use books that he loves.

 

How I do it:

 

When he spells a simple word wrong - I just correct it in the moment. He spells 'teath', I say "its ee". He is good enough with his phonemic knowledge and with the spelling rules, that he knows what I'm correcting. He doesn't add an ee at the end or something, he gets it and corrects it right then.

 

When he spells a multisyllable word wrong - I exaggerate the pronunciation and syllables. We use "think to spell", so the other day when he could not spell orange.  I said "it's OR - Ange"  The Ange I said with a long A sound not the short e that is a proper pronunciation. (or for a word like muscle, I'll say "mus Kle" with a hard k sound.) There are no rules for how to do this, I just make it up on the fly so that the spelling of the word matches a rule he knows. But then that word needs to be exaggerated in exactly the same way ever after or the technique won't work.

 

If he is mucking up how to add the ending, I'll remind him of the rule. When to double a letter or drop a letter etc.

 

When I expect that there is no way he can get it, I tell him how to spell it before he types it out. So right as he goes to spell it, I spell a syllable and he writes it.  This is becoming rarer though.  Now the words that he doesn't have a hope of spelling are those that don't really follow any rule like "usual".  I just have him practice memorizing it on the spot. "u. s. u. a. l"  Spell it out loud 4 times.  He won't remember it the next time, or the next time after that.  But he has it now, a year later.  I do not track words he misspells. We just keep going day after day with whatever the passage gives us.

 

30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, 40 weeks a year.  Been doing this for 1.5ish years and he loves it because he sees progress. I'm always positive, and compliment him on the fact that he is willing to put in the effort to fix this problem.  "Yes, most other people don't have to do this, but you drew the short straw.  But you have *chosen* to make an effort, and that is awesome." We also discuss that we expect to continue this until he is 17 or 18.  He's not fussed. 

 

The key here is that *his* dysgraphia is about a lack of automation.  He knows the rules. He has proper pronunciation. He has good phonemic skills. He reads well. He composes well.  It is just that *encoding* sound into text is not *automated*. This technique has made a massive difference to his ability to write down what he wants to say, and has really increased his confidence that there is a way to fix this problem and that he can do it.

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, 40 weeks a year.  Been doing this for 1.5ish years and he loves it because he sees progress. I'm always positive, and compliment him on the fact that he is willing to put in the effort to fix this problem.  "Yes, most other people don't have to do this, but you drew the short straw.  But you have *chosen* to make an effort, and that is awesome." We also discuss that we expect to continue this until he is 17 or 18.  He's not fussed. 

 

Thank you so much for all the details!!  And how awesome that your son is willing to work hard on this.  My dyslexic son is so disheartened by his difficulty spelling (and finding nothing that seems to really help).  I wonder if he would be open to trying something like this.  

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Glad to give the details.  It seems to be a different approach than many have used, but we have never ever had any success with *any* program I have tried, and I have tried basically all of them.

 

  For this spelling-dictation approach, the key has been to do books he loves. I wanted to get some nonfiction in to broaden the words he knows, but he is just not interested.  So he is really good at spelling words like 'dungeon' and 'princess'.   :tongue_smilie: But I figure that a good attitude is more important than getting to every word that he will need. If he keeps a good attitude, eventually I figure he will want to get at harder more non-fiction type words.  We will get there.  I am confident.

 

Slow and steady.  We know we are on a five year path.

Edited by lewelma
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Ruth, I just read your posts to my son, and I think you've sold him on this - at least he's willing to give it a shot!  Yay!  He is 16 with a busy schedule, so not sure he can do 30 min. daily, but we'll see.  My 10 year old dyslexic daughter also wants to try, but her typing needs to improve a bit first.  Thanks again!

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My 10 year old dyslexic daughter also wants to try, but her typing needs to improve a bit first. 

 

You can easily do it with handwriting.  My ds cannot physically write, which is why we did it with typing. We abandoned handwriting at age 12 with a top speed of 5 words a minute.

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