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6Acorns

How to explain delays to child

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So this is for my dd9 with dyslexia, language delays, and resulting anxiety. She has always been homeschooled. My tendency has been to just keep moving forward (albeit extremely slowly) and act like everything is as it should be. I have never verbalized (to her) that she is behind or struggling. This may be a mistake and in part a source of some of the anxiety. So HOW do I acknowledge her struggles, validate her issues, explain the delays, and encourage her? (Not on spectrum)

Thanks

Marcy on NC

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She may realize that she is behind, even without being in a class. I didn't know it, but a close friend of my dd's had asked her why she wasn't writing things well (she also has dysgraphia). The friend wasn't mean at all, just curious about something she noticed. The friend is almost two years older than dd, so I had thought that dd just assumed that friend was reading and writing better because she was older. And mostly that was true, but she had started to wonder. 

Anyway, when I told the kids about the dyslexia and dysgraphia, I explained it as a difference in how brains work. We have a handful of friends with dyslexia, so we talked about how their brains work with reading the same way as so-and-so. Before, we didn't know, so what we've been using to learn to read wasn't the best for how their brains work. But now that we know, we can use something better. Everyone has things that are easier and harder to learn; it will still be hard, but using the correct tool will make it easier.

Edited by Jentrovert
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Again no expert, but we just went through this so I can tell you how we approached it. For my dd7 with dyslexia, we were just really honest leading up to the evaluation. First I told her "Reading is hard, isn't it?" and of course she said "yes," so I told her it was harder than it should be and Mommy needed to change something in her teaching, because I wasn't doing something right if it was so hard and causing tears. So we were going to go talk to some people who were going to spend some time with her asking a bunch of questions, and that would help them know how to help Mommy to help her read. She was fine with that- I mean, it was a four hour test so we definitely had to explain why she was going through that and not her brother to. We made a huge deal out of what a great job she did sitting through that long test and not complaining and we had her favorite candy bar waiting afterward. She was happy to be done, but it's almost like it was a special thing for her in a way. I don't think she'll dread it when we go back in 3 or 4 years. 

Once the dyslexia dx came through, I don't remember my exact words but it was really close to this-  "You have something called dyslexia that can make it a little harder for you to learn to read than other kids. It's just the way people's brains are different, just like eye colors are different, or some people have to wear glasses. Everyone has different things they are strong in and have to work harder in. We aren't all the same, right? You know how some of the girls at ballet have a harder time learning dances than you do? Well everyone has some things that are harder for them than others, and that's just life, but Mom's going to help you now that we know how to do it and you'll be able to read before you know it. It's just going to take hard work for both of us."  And she was like "okay!" 

Then initially I did set up a reward system for every thing we completed- each lesson gave "Justice $$" in our case (for clothes) and when she'd finished that first  level of FiS, we bought her clothes from Justice with the money she earned for each lesson. I've weaned off of that now, but I still do print the certificates and things from Barton and hang them on the refrigerator. 

We're super open to people that she has dyslexia. She was realizing that she couldn't read like her brother and her peers could- it really was a big deal for her Church dance group where they read a devotional together. So being open about what dyslexia is and she has it, with her teacher and peers I think let her breathe a sigh of relief that no one thought it was just that she was dumb. 

ETA- and yes, with what Jentrovert is saying- we had family members who I knew were going to raise eyebrows and say something like "Oh well so-and-so's daughter is only 5 and she can read," and I wanted to cut that off at the get go. So we made the choice to just announce it to everyone in our family and educate them on what dyslexia is, because many people in my parent's generation have no idea honestly. My Mom watched the entire Barton series and has been extremely supportive, which was a huge deal because previously she has not always been super keen on homeschooling. But now any relative who dare make a comparison between my dd and another kid on when she is doing what as far as reading and writing knows that this Mama Bear is going to be out for blood. As dd gets older, she can decide to tell who she wants to, but I felt it worth the privacy disclosure when she was 6 turning 7 was worth it to end the comparison game. 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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So, she doesn't know she has dyslexia? Or she knows, but doesn't know she is behind?

If she doesn't know about the dyslexia I'd tell her ASAP. Because she knows this is hard, and if not given a reason she will just think she isn't smart. I explained it that just like some people have eyes that don't focus right, so they need glasses, some people have an issue where their brain doesn't "focus right" on sounds, so it is harder for them to learn to read. But that it has nothing to do with how smart they are, just like needed glasses doesn't. That they just are using a different part of their brain to try to read, and that part isn't as efficient at it, so they have to work harder. 

Then we talked about a lot of smart, famous people who are dyslexic. And we talked a lot about her strengths, and how everyone has things that are hard for them. Daddy is very inflexible and can't stretch or do yoga like she can. Her little brother has a very hard time with handwriting. Her big brother has ASD so understanding social things and acting in certain ways is hard for him. Mommy had poor coordination and  on and on. We all are different, which is good! That way we can help each other. 

And we do make sure to tell family, friends, etc and she is proactive in doing it too. 

Edited to add: And we also told her that the testing showed she was very advanced in her vocabulary - gave her something specific she was good at to balance out the specific thing that was hard for her. And we talked about how she is learning such an incredible work ethic by having to plow through this, and will be so much better at life in general because she is such a hard worker. 

Edited by Ktgrok
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I came back to reiterate a bit of what Katie touched on.

"Play to their strengths," is one of the best pieces of advice I've gotten so far with this whole dyslexia thing. It's very easy for us as Moms (me at least) to want to hone in and want to throw the entire focus onto their weakness, and invest all of your time and energy there to fix it. That's normal, because we worry, right? No one wants to see their child struggle or fall "behind." But, I think it's easy to fall so much into that that it makes it tougher and more stressful for the kid and then starts to dominate the teaching relationship. I did that with my oldest with math (with help from her school), and it ended up causing so much anxiety for her and I regret it terribly.

So my biggest piece of advice, no matter what program you use, is to focus on what they are good at and emphasize that even more than you work on the reading. Let her have the wins, if at all possible to where there are more wins than losses, if that makes sense. I'm not a trophy for everything and everyone sort of person, but I do think that when kids have struggles like these that can seriously impact self-esteem long term, they need to be picked up and propped up, and not falsely, but in a real way they can be proud of.  So much hinges on reading, and the kids realize that sooner or later; so while you remediate, find something she is good at and don't over-formalize it, I'm not saying that- but support it. Cheer it. Brag about it. Shamelessly, LOL. If it's her generosity, or her cheerfulness, or a physical skill or if she's a walking fact book on Dinosaurs or something. Make that a huge thing you cherish and emphasize- build up that area of the esteem.

So much in our society hinges on academics, I think that's part of why dyslexia can be so absolutely devastating- kids realize that sooner or later, because honestly, so much of how non-family adults relate to kids have to do with school, progress, grades or what have you. "What grade are you in?" "What do you like to read?" "How's school?" "What do you think you want to be when you grow up?" . I honestly cried reading some of the stories of adults who grew up dyslexic and how they were treated by schools and parents. Anyway, my chief goal is to make sure my daughter never feels second rate to anyone, be it her siblings, her friends, whatever just because of her reading difficulties, so I am maybe over the top on this propping up strengths, but I figure better that than my natural tendency to  focus on the weakness. 

My dd7 is the only kid in the house that is really interested in cooking. The others are probably just going to starve when they grow up LOL, but she adores helping me cook. And she wants to "do it herself," so I bought a toaster oven that can bake as well (actually better!) than my built in ovens, because it's easy to operate, it's on the counter, and she can do it herself. I got kids' cookbooks that rely more on pictures than anything, so while she may need me to tell her a couple of things, she can figure out most of the rest. And then when she makes us eggs, or makes us cookies, or makes most of dinner with mom just assisting, or whatever, she actually has that special win- that she did it. Herself. She didn't need help. No, she can't really read a book yet,  but she can cook, and her older siblings can't/don't. So if you could find something- be it cooking, sports, music, art- whatever, search for it and build, build, build. 

I don't know if you are familiar with the writing program, IEW, but they are a writing program we've used and they have a podcast. (Coincidentally IEW is what Barton recommends for writing program, but i just happened to use them for a previous kid, am a fan, so was already listening to the podcast for years before I knew that.) Anyway, the founder, Andrew Pudewa, has a son who is profoundly dyslexic. He's featured on two episodes of that podcast, and I found them overwhelmingly helpful, as they are from the perspective of the actual Dyslexic- not just everyone telling you how to deal with a Dyslexic child/student. I thought I'd link here in case anyone else would find them helpful. It's two parts- I've listened to it several times, but he is who overwhelmingly convinced me to play to my dd's strengths and let everything else come second. 

https://iew.com/help-support/podcast/episode-197-while-andrews-away-living-dyslexia—-interview-chris-pudewa-part-1

https://iew.com/help-support/podcast/episode-198-while-andrews-away-living-dyslexia—-interview-chris-pudewa-part-2

(If you look on your podcast app you can search for The Arts of Language podcast with the IEW logo, and should be able to pull up these episode numbers, since that's maybe easier than listening on your computer! 

 

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There's a series of books we used

                                            All Dogs Have ADHD                                     

                                            All Birds Have Anxiety                                     

                                            All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome                                     

Your library may have them, so you could just get them all and read them all. They're very cute, and she might recognize things about other people. Ds had these lightbulbs go off, like oh that's why my sister does... And because they're all cute, there's no reason to limit, just read all the ones you can find in the series. They're pictures of animals with lines underneath.

The trouble is, given her mix, she's not likely to identify with any one label. The DLD is NOT part of the dyslexia, so she might not identify with anything you find on them. Sure look for stuff. In the picture book                                             Lentil (Picture Puffin Books)                                       the character uses his harmonica because he can't sing. With my ds, our take on that was that he has apraxia and a language disability. Who knows, but that's how my ds with apraxia is. Singing is the hardest thing. So to find a picture book where the character has that issue and then say hey do you identify with it can be really helpful.

The other thing I do is use youtube. Again, I'm just searching across labels, because in our house no one pure label is going to apply and be something he identifies with. So it's easy to find videos on youtube where they interview people with dyslexia and you can find lists of actors, famous people, business people with dyslexia. As I come across lists and videos like that, I always call him to watch them. I'll say reading was hard for these people, but they were smart and found ways to make it work. Always that spin of using your tools, you can be successful when you work hard, etc.

6 hours ago, 6Acorns said:

My tendency has been to just keep moving forward (albeit extremely slowly) and act like everything is as it should be.

This has been the right thing to do. In her world, she is normal. So treating her as normal and working with her, meeting her right where she is, was the right thing to do.

Did you say you're also getting some evals? If you haven't had psych evals, you might want to be slow to tell her labels, just saying. You could be assuming things that aren't correct or aren't completely correct. And given the complexity of her mix (and what sounds like some overall developmental delays or bloom time) there may be more to the picture. She might not identify with someone who is straight dyslexic, but she might be greatly relieved to know her processing speed is affected, which is something you'd learn in psych evals. For my dd, low processing speed is a constant, constant bane. That and her language shutting down when she's tired, sigh. And there are no fancy labels for it, nothing to identify with and say oh this is my tribe and this is why it happens, no videos going rah rah it will be ok anyway. It just sucks. And in that case accurate information from psych evals was the kindest thing.

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2 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I came back to reiterate a bit of what Katie touched on.

"Play to their strengths," is one of the best pieces of advice I've gotten so far with this whole dyslexia thing. It's very easy for us as Moms (me at least) to want to hone in and want to throw the entire focus onto their weakness, and invest all of your time and energy there to fix it. That's normal, because we worry, right? No one wants to see their child struggle or fall "behind." But, I think it's easy to fall so much into that that it makes it tougher and more stressful for the kid and then starts to dominate the teaching relationship. I did that with my oldest with math (with help from her school), and it ended up causing so much anxiety for her and I regret it terribly.

So my biggest piece of advice, no matter what program you use, is to focus on what they are good at and emphasize that even more than you work on the reading. Let her have the wins, if at all possible to where there are more wins than losses, if that makes sense. I'm not a trophy for everything and everyone sort of person, but I do think that when kids have struggles like these that can seriously impact self-esteem long term, they need to be picked up and propped up, and not falsely, but in a real way they can be proud of.  So much hinges on reading, and the kids realize that sooner or later; so while you remediate, find something she is good at and don't over-formalize it, I'm not saying that- but support it. Cheer it. Brag about it. Shamelessly, LOL. If it's her generosity, or her cheerfulness, or a physical skill or if she's a walking fact book on Dinosaurs or something. Make that a huge thing you cherish and emphasize- build up that area of the esteem.

So much in our society hinges on academics, I think that's part of why dyslexia can be so absolutely devastating- kids realize that sooner or later, because honestly, so much of how non-family adults relate to kids have to do with school, progress, grades or what have you. "What grade are you in?" "What do you like to read?" "How's school?" "What do you think you want to be when you grow up?" . I honestly cried reading some of the stories of adults who grew up dyslexic and how they were treated by schools and parents. Anyway, my chief goal is to make sure my daughter never feels second rate to anyone, be it her siblings, her friends, whatever just because of her reading difficulties, so I am maybe over the top on this propping up strengths, but I figure better that than my natural tendency to  focus on the weakness. 

My dd7 is the only kid in the house that is really interested in cooking. The others are probably just going to starve when they grow up LOL, but she adores helping me cook. And she wants to "do it herself," so I bought a toaster oven that can bake as well (actually better!) than my built in ovens, because it's easy to operate, it's on the counter, and she can do it herself. I got kids' cookbooks that rely more on pictures than anything, so while she may need me to tell her a couple of things, she can figure out most of the rest. And then when she makes us eggs, or makes us cookies, or makes most of dinner with mom just assisting, or whatever, she actually has that special win- that she did it. Herself. She didn't need help. No, she can't really read a book yet,  but she can cook, and her older siblings can't/don't. So if you could find something- be it cooking, sports, music, art- whatever, search for it and build, build, build. 

I don't know if you are familiar with the writing program, IEW, but they are a writing program we've used and they have a podcast. (Coincidentally IEW is what Barton recommends for writing program, but i just happened to use them for a previous kid, am a fan, so was already listening to the podcast for years before I knew that.) Anyway, the founder, Andrew Pudewa, has a son who is profoundly dyslexic. He's featured on two episodes of that podcast, and I found them overwhelmingly helpful, as they are from the perspective of the actual Dyslexic- not just everyone telling you how to deal with a Dyslexic child/student. I thought I'd link here in case anyone else would find them helpful. It's two parts- I've listened to it several times, but he is who overwhelmingly convinced me to play to my dd's strengths and let everything else come second. 

https://iew.com/help-support/podcast/episode-197-while-andrews-away-living-dyslexia—-interview-chris-pudewa-part-1

https://iew.com/help-support/podcast/episode-198-while-andrews-away-living-dyslexia—-interview-chris-pudewa-part-2

(If you look on your podcast app you can search for The Arts of Language podcast with the IEW logo, and should be able to pull up these episode numbers, since that's maybe easier than listening on your computer! 

 

Yes to all of this!!!! 

And oddly, my DD has started to love cooking as well! And now, at 9 with a lot of work under her belt, she can read recipes on her own! She made our thanksgiving desserts all on her own - I just handed her the recipes and clarified a few things for her. 

And this probably goes without saying, but when NOT working on reading/spelling I was always happy to read the directions to her in her school work, read the math word problems to her, scribe for her, etc so that the dyslexia didn't impact EVERY subject. And we will be doing a lot of documentary heavy schooling rather than reading textbooks, etc. 

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3 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

toaster oven that can bake as well (actually better!) than my built in ovens, because it's easy to operate, it's on the counter, and she can do it herself. I got kids' cookbooks that rely more on pictures than anything

I would love specific brand of oven and names of cookbooks. This sounds a lot like my girl ❤️

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5 minutes ago, 6Acorns said:

I would love specific brand of oven and names of cookbooks. This sounds a lot like my girl ❤️

They use half the energy of an oven, too!  The only thing is if you go a few months without cleaning it out, the food at the bottom can catch on fire!!  You are supposed to turn off and unplug if this happens.  (More prone to happen in a toaster oven if people make toast without a solid tray.) The newer ones are easier to clean out, most have a slide out tray on the bottom.

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42 minutes ago, 6Acorns said:

I would love specific brand of oven and names of cookbooks. This sounds a lot like my girl ❤️

I have a Breville Pro Air- here is a whole thread about it with others bragging on their Brevilles when I was trying to decide which one. We've been super happy with it. I bought a copper chef mat I cut and put on the pull out tray on the bottom. I just pull it out and dust it off into the bin every so often and that way it keeps the inside nice and clean. 

I like the America's Test Kitchen kids books. 

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5 hours ago, 6Acorns said:

cookbooks.

https://www.proedinc.com/Products/20855/cooking-to-learn-combo-all-3-books.aspx  This has been brilliant for my ds. The food is just right, and it comes with multiple versions of the instructions (pictures, words). It also gives you narrative language and LA activities to go with it, to improve her ability to *talk* about what she did. Even if you use something else, those are good skills to be bringing into her cooking time. (recap what ingredients and tools were used, say what she did, say what the steps were, etc.) We print the recipes and put them in page protectors in a binder, so my ds has his own cookbook of things he can make independently. He's very proud of what he can do with this!

I like my Breville a lot, but my ds is sort of spotty on it. He uses it, sure, and he has his own little tons, etc. But really anything like that flares up his anxiety. For cooking independently, the no oven, no stove, easier recipes in Cooking to Learn were fabulous. They also taught him to use a stove, and he can do that now. It's easier for him than using the toaster oven.  He uses the toaster oven, but it's just a thing where small isn't necessarily easier. He doesn't necessarily remember what temperature, for instance. And it has a lot of different settings (bake, convection, toast, etc.). He just has more trouble using it independently. The stove, it's either on or off, lol.

Edited by PeterPan
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