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Help with dyslexia, when is it time to make life easier...


Paz
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My dd is 15 and has dyslexia. She was tested by and educational psychologist but he does not test for dyslexia so she was not diagnosed. She has made great strides, reads well above grade level, etc. Her biggest difficulty is spelling and writing. She writes great paragraphs but school writing is laborious for her. She has to think really hard to make sure the letters are in the right order, not reversed and such. Is it time to get word recognition software so she can dictate her written work on the computer or will she improve on the written work as she does it more and more? I'm looking for opinions and experiences. At this point, I'm not sure what the best option is. She wants to go to college and I think she can handle it unless spelling is very important. In that case, she's in trouble. From all my research, it is very hard to diagnose dyslexia and since she has made a lot of progress she probably isn't severe enough to be diagnosed anyway.

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I don't know about the first part of your question. But in college, all our papers were required to be typed. Sometimes you did have to write out answers to exams - essay or short answer. If you have a disability (like dyslexia) you could ask for accomodations (most colleges are very good about this) - I'm not sure what the accomodation would be - maybe typing out the answers? Maybe narrating answers to a t.a. who then wrote down the answer? The specific accomodation probably depends on the college. Most word processors will highlight in red misspelled words and then will give some alternatives that it "thinks" is correct. That's helpful if it is an occasional word but if it were every single word you probably would need a different kind of software (maybe something like "Naturally Speaking" where you speak into a mike and the computer types it for you?)

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I have a classmate who approached me at the beginning of the semester and asked if I would take notes for her. Indiana State University has a learning center where kids with learning disabilities can get assistance and serve as a go-between for kids at test time and for papers and such. They are paying me (just minimum wage for 3 hours a week, mind you) to write my class notes on special carbon notebook paper. She gets the original and I get the yellow copy, and we both have legible notes! At test time she turns in a special request to her teachers and someone will read aloud the questions for her and she can either answer them orally or write them down herself.

 

I also have a fellow psychology major who has cerebral palsy and is doing school from her wheelchair--she took all her statistics tests orally. Quite a job, but they did it. Also, there is another boy here who has someone to help him from class to class in his walker, and another helper who fingerspells for him EVERYTHING the professors say in class.

 

My school is great about accomodating all kinds of learning as well as physical disabilities--I'm sure it's not the only one.

 

She can do it!

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My dd is 15 and has dyslexia. She was tested by and educational psychologist but he does not test for dyslexia so she was not diagnosed. She has made great strides, reads well above grade level, etc. Her biggest difficulty is spelling and writing. She writes great paragraphs but school writing is laborious for her. She has to think really hard to make sure the letters are in the right order, not reversed and such. Is it time to get word recognition software so she can dictate her written work on the computer or will she improve on the written work as she does it more and more? I'm looking for opinions and experiences. At this point, I'm not sure what the best option is. She wants to go to college and I think she can handle it unless spelling is very important. In that case, she's in trouble. From all my research, it is very hard to diagnose dyslexia and since she has made a lot of progress she probably isn't severe enough to be diagnosed anyway.

 

Little Soccer Dude (8y/o) has dyslexia. It was dx'd with standard school testing. He has participated in a Scottish Rite program through our school district. There have been VAST improvements made. We continue the program at home. The biggest issue is to ensure that the child knows the phonetic rules, instead of spelling by memory. Every college should be aware of dyslexia and have suggestions to help work around DC's challenges. Had I chosen, DS would've had an IEP for his dyslexia. I swear everyone and his brother knows about it now :P

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What you are describing sounds very similar to my dd, who is 17yo and a remediated dyslexic. At age 14, she was diagnosed with dysgraphia. Dyslexia and dysgraphia are now considered medical diagnoses. (The diagnosis became important because dd wanted to attend public high school with 9th grade.)

 

What I did was call our HMO and tell them my dd needed a complete neuro-psychological evaluation. They told me I could self-refer and gave me the number of their in-network clinic, plus several out-network clinics. I called the in-network clinic and they gave me an initial appointment with an educational psychologist. At this appointment I explained dd's history and her difficulties with written expression. The ed-psych did not think insurance would cover the testing, so we agreed on a limited testing plan. He gave IQ and achievement tests (this is baseline for all testing) and then referred dd for additional testing by the neuro-psychologist in the clinic (M.D. with specialization in neurological development of children). The neuro-psych was able to rule out a number of possibilities such as fine motor anomalies and memory problems. The end result of this testing was that the two doctors wrote a report that diagnosed dysgraphia. Because dysgraphia is a medical diagnosis, our medical insurance covered all of the testing (about $1,500 although full-scale neuro-psych testing would have been closer to $3,000). If the doctors had not come up with a diagnosis, I'm sure we would have had to pay out-of-pocket for the testing.

 

With the dysgraphia diagnosis, I was able to go to our local public school. The school's testing did not show the dysgraphia was severe enough for an IEP, so we negotiated with the school for an RIEP based on the diagnostic reports. (RIEP stands for Regular Individualized Educational Plan.) The RIEP is not legally binding on the school, but specifies accommodations that teachers are encouraged to give my dd to compensate for her dysgraphia. These include not being marked down for spelling in work unless the test is actually on spelling, teacher provides course outline or notes, dd being able to copy classmate's notes, (dd cannot process auditory information while she is writing), etc. The RIEP is passed out to all of my dd's teachers at every new term. So far all of the teachers have been very cooperative and have been generous with their accommodations.

 

I don't have time to post more now, but I will follow this thread later. Feel free to ask questions.

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It looks like I need her diagnosed to get help but I'm concerned about how I can do that. I spoke with a friend from our school district who works with all the ESE students and their IEP plans. None of them have the dyslexia diagnosis. When I called a year ago to have her tested, I spoke with the person in charge of testing. She told me 1) they didn't test for dyslexia and 2) You are a homeschooler. You are always at home so I guess you can come in anytime. That totally turned me off so we did not get tested then.

 

The second person I saw was a well respected and well recommended educational psychologist. He was not part of the school system. I told him my concerns. Dh and I spoke in depth with him. I paid lots of $$ and was told she is above average, no LD's. I did not understand why they did not have her write, read, or spell anything but they said they don't do that.

 

I don't really know where to go or how to get her tested. I think she writes well enough that dysgraphia will not be a diagnosis. What do you suggest?

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<<She was tested by an educational psychologist but he does not test for dyslexia so she was not diagnosed. >>

 

I would move heaven and earth to get the correct dx for her. More later.

 

<< Is it time to get word recognition software so she can dictate her written work on the computer or will she improve on the written work as she does it more and more? I'm looking for opinions and experiences. >>

 

We have not needed speech recognition software for ds#1, but I'm betting we will for Ds#2, who is much more severely dyslexic. It is extremely important that your dd learn to type fluently. That will help in 90% of the cases, and she'll need her own laptop. Ds says almost everyone brings their laptops to class in his CC college these days, except in his math classes, and we're *not* in an affluent area. From what you've shared, I'd start with the intensive typing work, then consider the SR software if she still needs more help. Save your money on the laptop until she needs one, because the technology is constantly changing.

 

<<From all my research, it is very hard to diagnose dyslexia and since she has made a lot of progress she probably isn't severe enough to be diagnosed anyway. >> I'd disagree on this, based on personal experience. The educational diagnostician we used and the language therapist who also tests both indicated that there are very specific tests and patterns of results on those tests that indicate learning disabilities. Ds #1 was dxed with 3 DSM-numbered disabilities, including dyslexia-- partially remediated. IOW, if the results are so many percentage points lower on this, this, and this score subset, when compared with his score on the aptitude and intelligence testing, it is clearly a case of an LD. Not hard at all. From the detail you shared, I'd also be looking hard at the possibility of a dx of dysgraphia.

 

In my (pardon me) very adamant opinion...it is a critical path that you get this dxed ASAP, complete with DSM #s and a list of accommodations that she should be granted. Then put those accomodations in place and get them working for her. Document before and after results, grades, classroom (!) observations, etc. If she has any outside classes, start a paper trail there as well. When she goes to take the SAT or ACT, or placement tests like the Accuplacer at CC, she will need that documentation. The College Board requires that you have the accomodations in use for a minimum of 4 academic months. Longer is better. It takes about a year from applying for College Board accommodations til they are processed for her first test, which will be the PSAT, so time is of the essence! When it comes to dealing with the College Board, there is much hoop-jumping, but the accommodations they grant, while usually stingey, will help her do well. The CCs we have dealt with have been very helpful, much nicer to work with--they want a kid to succeed. But they also need a formal assessment to grant accommodations.

 

Finally, it can be daunting...just take it one step at a time, you'll get there! I'm sure I can speak for Claire, also, when I say that we will be glad to cheer for you, encourage you, and help you with any information we can.

 

Blessings on the journey to you and your dd!

 

Valerie

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Actually, I wouldn't ask the school district for help on this one.

 

I took my son to ISU, where they have a psychology clinic, and they gave him standardized and IQ testing. They found what they thought to be disorder of written expression, and if I wanted they would do the additional testing to find out exactly, but at the time I declined. They have a sliding pay scale based on income, and he had four hours of testing for $50.

 

The people testing at the psych clinic are mostly doctoral students who are very closely supervised by doctors. Usually the school district sends kids there who are thought to have ADD, ADHD, some other disability, or if the teachers think the kids would benefit from family or play therapy.

 

I would look at the colleges in your area and see what you could find.

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Schools cannot diagnose dyslexia or dysgraphia because these are medical diagnoses. (Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic entry for dyslexia.) Schools are educational facilities. They cannot make medical diagnoses. In schools, difficulty with reading is termed "specific reading disability" instead of dyslexia, and difficulty with writing is termed "specific writing disability" instead of dysgraphia.

 

We were able to take the medical diagnosis of dysgraphia to the school to negotiate accommodations.

 

Whether or not you are homeschooler, most schools at high school level will not provide services for problems with written expression. Schools in general will work on remediating reading, writing, speech/language issues such as articulation, and occupational therapy issues involving gross and fine motor at the elementary school level. For middle and high school levels, most of what is provided are accommodations or special education classes geared to a slower pace of learning. They figure older students are poor candidates for remediation.

 

For a diagnosis, you really need a neuro-psychologist. It's too bad your ed-psych did not work in a clinic with a neuro-psych, as I bet then he would have been better informed about dyslexia and dysgraphia. The type of testing you are describing is what ed-psychs do -- IQ testing and achievement testing. They do this to determine if there is a sufficient discrepancy to diagnose a learning disability. Most likely the tests used by your ed-psych were not the best ones. When I showed our report to someone, I was told that the tests done by our ed-psych were the "cadillac" of test options.

 

If you like, I can pull out our report and tell you which tests were done by our ed-psych.

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"The educational diagnostician we used and the language therapist who also tests both indicated that there are very specific tests and patterns of results on those tests that indicate learning disabilities."

 

Valerie, what type of educational diagnostician did you use? How do I get started finding one and how do I know what question to ask to avoid my last experience of paying big bucks only to find out that they don't look for any written or dyslexia type problems? And this was at a big learning center in our area that has a school for LD students attached to it. Aparently, they test and diagnose for just about everything else.

 

I appreciate everyone's encouragement and advice. My dd is so sweet, motivated, and driven. This disability has given her amazing strengths, as well. I want to do what is right for her to help her reach her goals.

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Claire,

 

Thank you for this information. I will look into finding a neuro-psychologist in my area. We do have a wide variety of resources available here so I do feel more positive in finding some help now that I know more specifically what I'm looking for. I also posted on the special needs board.

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what type of educational diagnostician you asked. She is a Certified Educational Diagnostician. She has a MS or MA in something, and many years experience as an Academic Language Therapist, the credential for remediating dyslexia. You could google Certified Educational Diagnostician and see if you get a better explanation.

 

She was a personal referral from a relative who teaches at one of the "Lexus" private Cx schools in the area, and she came recommended as having the most comprehensive, helpful writeups. When it came to applying for the CollegeBoard accommodations, everything I needed was right there in the report, like clockwork, so that really helped. I'd have hated to pay the big bucks and then ended up with a marginal report.

 

The second lady I mentioned is also an ALT and has a masters in counseling. She too is credentialed to do testing, and she actually helped us with some additional testing to nail down a dysgraphia dx that the first lady had not really made obvious.

 

I'd see what you can find locally if you google CED from above. http://www.ncedb.org/

 

Also get recommendations from privte schools in the area, or check for a referral from an ALT in your area.

 

www.alta.com

 

HTH

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