Reading disability?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by wakeupcall, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Tonight we went to open house at difficult child's intermediate school. To make a long story short....he has a target reading teacher (six in the class, basically teaching them to take the state reading test and pass the stupid thing) and she asked him if he had trouble reading in cursive (he DOES!). She asked him if the letters seem to "move". He said YES! Is there a term for this? Is this a known reading disability? It's the first I've heard of it. She also said that he sometimes switches letters in a word, like BULE for BLUE. Now what does that mean? Open House was no place to be getting into it, but why hasn't someone said something before if this is true? Do these problems have a name?

    What is next with this child????
  2. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Sounds like it may be related to visual motor skills or maybe dyslexia (reading disability), but that's just a guess.

    There are several threads in the Sp Ed Archives related to reading problems. There's also a thread pertaining to perceptual skills and how they impact learning that you may want to read. A thorough evaluation is in order in my opinion.
  3. jannie

    jannie trying to survive....

    I know he's in sixth grade, but do you know his approximate reading level? first? second? third?

    I ask because there is usually a connection between reading and writing--Could he read the words written on the board if they were in print? Does he write in cursive? There are many kids that can't read cursive--and it's so frustrating when teachers write in cursive.

    Is he able to comprehend grade level material when it's read aloud to him?
  4. Jessica mom of 2

    Jessica mom of 2 New Member

    my difficult child 1 does the same thing. She did it last night, she was suppose to write "spot, but she wrote stop" and didn't even realize it until I asked her to look at what she was writing and what was on her homework sheet. I am glad you brought this point up because I am now wondering if it is tied in with another diagnosis. She has severe ADHD, and possible auditory processing disorder. I am sorry I can't be of any help.

    Good Question!
  5. missusoverall

    missusoverall New Member

    Our difficult child was diagnosed with dyslexia at 7 and these symptoms are classic for him. It affects his writing more now - especially because he rushes everything and never reads his work through to check (he hasn't got a minute :D. He did really well learning to read - he had orange lenses in prescription frames which stopped the words 'moving' on the page, he had access to a computer in class and we used lots of reading techniques with him that really helped! In England there are computer programmes called 'Word Shark' and 'Number Shark' that are really good. His numbers can be in the wrong order too - so it affects his maths too. There's loads of stuff out there, I hope his teachers help you more

  6. blb

    blb New Member

  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I remember my nephew had this back in the mid-70s. I was in teacher training at the time and talk of dyslexia was very new. My nephew's idiot teacher was insisting he DID know his letters because he got them right half the time. He would continually switch "b" and "d", "p" and "q" and would get letters out of place SOMETIMES. As I explained to my sister - a kid who gets letters revered ALL the time clearly can distinguish between them, he just gets confused as to which is which. But a kid who gets it right sometimes and wrong sometimes fairly consistently - needs to be investigated for a failure to recognise the difference.

    Remember this was back in the 70s, the theory at the time concerning my nephew was that his brain had not determined which half was dominant (his 'handedness" was also uncertain, he would switch from one hand to the other). My sister got him in to a specialist clinic and they suggested ongoing assessments as well as determining which hand he favoured more and really working to help him develop a preference - he may seem ambidextrous, they told us, but his brain simply hasn't settled to make a decision and we have to force it.
    A few years later a doctor in Sydney (Paul Hutchins - pediatrician) joined up with an optometrist (I think she was) called Helen Irlen, and found that a lot of people with a diagnosis of dyslexia (especially of the letters seem to swirl on the page) will benefit from wearing glasses with tinted lenses - the colour of the tint will vary from person to person. My sister got coloured glasses for her son - his were dark grey, which was an indication of how bad his problem was. The theory behind the coloured lenses - by screening out some frequencies of light, you are reducing the input to the brain. Monochrome is easier for the brain to process without any added confusing information, these people do find (in a lot of cases) that they can read better.
    For my nephew, it didn't fix his dyslexia, it just made it easier for him to manage. And the dark grey - he had to cut down on his visual input A LOT.

    I don't know what the current status of the Irlen glasses is, but reports were that a lot of people were helped. And it wasn't a money-making scam, either - people were going to optometrists and simply trying out various coloured lenses to see which ones made reading easier, and then getting the glasses made up. No royalties to anyone, no exorbitant fees. I don't know if this is still considered a viable management option but it would be worth finding out.

    I was coaching a couple of kids recently (siblings) and they both seemed to have similar reversal problems which they had been told was dyslexia. I think there are probably a number of different things which are described as dyslexia. But for these kids I developed an exercise to try to deal with one particular issue - eye tracking.
    When we read (a person with no problems) our eyes do NOT steadily slide across the page. Instead, the eye is static and looks at a group of words in a line without moving, then quickly skips along to another static position and takes in the next few words. These skips or jumps are called saccades. During the movement of a saccade, our eyes do not register any information - it is as if we are blind for that split second. We do not see the blur of movement, we only see the still page.
    But I surmise - a kid who is getting letters in a word jumbled, or words in a line jumbled - that child is not saccading properly, in a series of left to right movements. This can be tested - where I used to work, my professor used to teach the medical students exactly this phenomenon and it was me he wired up to test his equipment, which is why I know about it. It is a simple test, similar equipment to an EEG only it is recording the movement of the little muscles around the eye.
    We should saccade in regular intervals from left to right. If our eyes instead skip randomly over the page, what our brains receive in terms of the written word will be a jumble. It should be possible to TRAIN the brain and the eye to track left to right, but to do this we need to give the eye something to work with, that moves left to right.

    So I went out and found some eyeballs. These are great little toys - they look like a simple round ball, designed to look like an eyeball. But in reality, they are two balls in one. The outer ball is clear, the inner ball is the eyeball - white, with a pupil and iris painted on the top - and it is weighted, so the 'eye' is always facing upward. The inner ball floats in some sort of clear fluid (probably water) inside the clear outer ball, so as you roll this ball, the outer clear plastic rolls but the weighted inner ball always faces up. it looks like the eyeball is SLIDING from one side to the other. Kids love it because it looks gruesome. I also found one with a globe of the world on the inner ball - less spectacular, but also interesting.

    So, here I was with a collection of eyeballs. I gave one to each of my students and told them to roll the eyeball from left to right across the desk. They roll with the left hand and catch the ball with the right. They then pass the ball from right hand to left hand, UNDER the table, then roll the ball again. All this time (apart from under the desk) they are to maintain eye contact with the eyeball.
    This would be a way to help retrain the brain to track properly. It's inexpensive - the ball costs about $2 in Aussie money. And the more the exercise is done, the better the result should be. But it should be repeated through the day, say for about five minutes every few hours.

    This is an exercise specific to those whose problem is complicated by poor eye tracking or incomplete brain dominance. But be aware - I am rusty on this topic, there may be an exert out there with more up-to-date information. What I suggest is something you can try at home which will certainly do no harm, Get an expert's assessment and see what they say.

    But this certainly is not uncommon.

  8. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    As usual, Marg, you are soooo full of wonderful information. I've been quizzing difficult child unbeknown to him with some of the other "symptoms" I have found with dyslexia. Some of them he certainly does NOT have (knows right from left, can tie shoes, etc.), but some of them he does. You know how they say you don't have to have ALL the symptoms.....!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I WILL look into the "tracking" and see if that could be part of the problem. Oddly enough, last evening he wanted to read his homework of 20 min. every night....with his sunglasses on!!!!!!
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sometimes our kids have all the wisdom, instinctively.

    As for knowing right from left and being able to tie his shoes - think about it. When we are learning this, we use cues. "My watch is on the left." We can SEE the difference between left and right whenever there is a lack of symmetry.

    I remember learning left from right. I used to set the table and we all had our own regular place at the table. Some people had preferences for certain pieces of cutlery ("That's MY spoon!") and so I learned to place various items in exactly the right place to accommodate this (and I wonder where the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) came from!)
    My place at the dinner table was with my back to the wall, on the right hand end, next to my father at the head of the table. This was so he could discipline me as I was the youngest. I did not like having to sit there because he was very strict. But I learned - the knife goes on my father's side. I must use my knife and not try to just use my fork. The spoon goes on the right hand side next to my father. I must use my spoon in my right hand, not my left.
    I wasn't learning left from right without those cues. Later I could work it out, but always when I DID work it out later, in my mind's eye I was once more setting the dinner table.

    My dyslexic nephew would always put his sandals on wrong way round; left on right foot and vice versa. This was NOT him making a mistake, or he would have got it right some of the time. No, he was making a deliberate choice to get it wrong. So we watched - and saw this toddler sitting on the floor as toddlers do, knees splayed to each side, so the inside of his ankle on each foot faced up. And so he chose to put his sandals on so the buckle also faced up - he could reach it more easily to do it up that way, with the buckles on the inside.

    Your son wanting to read with his sunglasses on - very interesting. Does he say if it helps? I would experiment if you can with different colours, see if there is a coloured lens which he finds makes reading easier.

    Something that might help with random reversal of letters - it worked for me when I was learning, although I'm not dyslexic. I just remember back a lot earlier than most people!
    I was having trouble distinguishing between "b" and "d". The word "bed" was my salvation - when you look at the word, it LOOKS like a bed viewed from side on. The two upright sticks are the bedposts. The round shapes of the letters in between are the lumpy mattress (and maybe a pillow at each end?). So whenever I was writing another word and having trouble, I visualised "bed" in my mind, and worked from there. I was four years old and in Kindergarten.

    There are other words which you can do this with as well. My nephew was trained like this - I think my sister had a book as well, but the clinic she took him to got her onto this program of visualising the letters as pictures. An important part of their teaching was to make sure the child draws the letter in the correct order of steps - the letter "g" for example - you begin at the top and draw the round bit first, clockwise - that's the girl's head. Then without pen leaving paper you bring the stroke down and curl it under - that's the girl's hair, so long she can sit on it. And "g" is for "girl".

    Often dyslexic kids are very imaginative and highly visual, so this technique works really well. Something else that can work is a small home-made word book which he can keep in his pocket. You make it by folding a sheet of paper in half, turn and fold again. And again a couple more times. Staple down one side, tape over the staples then cut the 'pages' free. You write a word on a page AND draw a picture of what the word represents. You do with with any word which is maybe a bit tricky, or one the child asks for. And the kid can keep it in his pocket. If it gets chewed or goes through the wash - no matter. It's easy to make another.

    Comic books are good. You can get them in a wide age range - we have some comics for teens in our house.

    There is a lot you can do, without having to pay someone a fortune.