Thursday, March 3, 2011

Requesting opinions

So I know that requesting opinions can be dangerous, we may not agree on how I'm dealing with this thing in my life, we may not agree that what I'm thinking is a problem is a problem. That said, I sent an email out to a list serve I'm on and I realized I have a fountain of information in my friends that I use to dip into all the time when my boy was a baby and don't go to as much as he has gotten older. So with that in mind here is the email I sent out this morning and if you have some thoughts or ideas on it (or if you just want to say hi and let me know you are reading) please do.

With Love,

Hi Everyone,

I'm mostly a lurker, we have been at home for 2 years with DS 8 and the little worry at the back of my mind has become a screaming 1,000 lb gorilla at the front of my mind regarding his reading difficulties. 

I've decided to try the Barton Reading and Spelling system to help him and we are now trying to decide if getting him tested and an official diagnosis of dyslexia. When I look at the symptoms listed of dyslexia he has 90% of them and all of the spelling. He does not seem to be dysgraphic, but is very reluctant to write unless I first write the script for him and he has a letter guide in front of him to form the letters. Let me give you some of our thoughts on the reasons to and not to test and let me know if there is something we are missing, another road that may help.

Reasons to test:

He could get accommodations on the Standardized tests we have to give him every other year starting next year for our State (CO)
Same for if/when he wants to take the ACT/SAT for college acceptance.
If we put him back in school we will have a starting point to talk about what he needs without so many hoops to jump through.
It will give me information on his strengths and weaknesses that I might be able to use to help him learn

Reasons not to test:

I can just start using the Barton system without having any info and it sounds like it will work.
We don't know that we will send him back to public school so why would he need to face this now.
College is a long way off (I keep telling myself that let's ignore the fact that I still think of him as 5)
He may not want to go to college and have no need to take the ACT/SAT (yes that rips my heart to write but it could be true)

Reasons I'm afraid to wait to test:

What happens if we decide to just work with what we have and down the road we feel like he will need the official dx to help with something and when we test at that point he doesn't show as severe and so can get no accommodations on things like the ACT/SAT.

So that is most of it, I'm sure there is more rattling around my head but after 2 cups of coffee this is what I can think of.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The worry, the stress, the Guilt!

I have now spoken to 3 of the 4 Certified Dyslexia Testing Specialists from the list I received from Susan Barton.

The first was a lovely, understanding, woman. In other words she did not call me an idiot who just hadn't read to her child enough and didn't know how to teach. (I have no issues with self doubt, no really, well maybe a little)

She asked me a series of questions about the boy, we talked about where his IQ test put him, where he is in math and where he is in reading. Huge disparity. She asked about gross motor skills, she asked if he was on the spectrum, can he tie his shoes, does he know our address. Gross motor skills great, not on spectrum as far as we know, he can tie his shoes (it took awhile but he is great at it now), he does not know our address, but knows my mobile number.

The second tester called, she asked many fewer questions, wanted to know why I was worried about it, luckily the conversation with the first tester really pulled my thoughts on it together so I was able to, fairly, clearly explain what I was seeing in the Boy. She kind of explained the difference between an IEP and a 504 and that we would likely get a 504 for accommodations rather than a full IEP. She then spent a good bit of time telling me which charter schools in my area are the most receptive to and responsive to the needs of dyslexic kids. COVA being one, they have the Barton System that they will loan out to parents to use. The other being one of the charters in our district, but I have a complicated relationship with all of them (in my head). It really felt like she was pushing for us to put him back in public school. Her report was priced as a report only to parents for 1 price and if we wanted a report for the schools for another $100. The thing is even if we don't put him back in school I am going to need something worded that we can use to get accommodations for standardized tests. All that to say I did not leave talking to her with warm fuzzies and I'm pretty sure we won't be using her.

Third tester called a bit later and left a message, was able to get back with her quickly. She was also lovely. She let me know when she does the intake interview some of the things she will check on are things from early childhood and birth to make sure there was nothing that might interfere with a clean dyslexia dx. She talked to me about the benefits of testing now and not testing now. She feels that using the Barton System we could help the Boy right now and he is at a good age to start it, we don't need the testing to start that. What the testing will give us is the ability to get him accommodations on any standardized testing and as a CO homeschooler, that is something we will have to do every other year starting next year. Plus when/if he takes the ACT/SAT for college he will get accommodations on that as well. If we wait to test him until after we get him tutored the results may not show the severity and we may not be able to get the accommodations he really will still need.

I'm kicking myself, I was wondering about this when we started COVA a year and a half ago. I had the conversation with the teacher then. I feel like I didn't advocate enough at that point. He is crazy smart and it gets hidden in this fight with the written word. he is so curious about different things but he can't get it for himself right now he has to use me and I'm ending up being a gatekeeper to his knowledge. I slow him down I can't read to him everything he wants to learn, he can't stand one of the most prominent astrophysicists out there making videos so most of the video lectures I find he won't watch. Ugh.

I look at the reading symptoms and he has every single one of them, same with the spelling. I had not gone back to the list for a year and a half because I thought maybe he wasn't ready yet, maybe he was being 'stubborn' maybe I was giving him too much leeway.

All that be as it may, we're doing something now. I will figure out how to get him tested, I will get to work learning the Barton System. I will see if I can become a Barton Tutor and maybe make up the cost of the system. We'll see, there are answers, there will  be help, he will be able to open the world up to his very curious mind with books soon.