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Schools Deny Dyslexia

Don't Deny and DelayWe hear from parent after parent that the school is failing their child. Unfortunately, schools deny dyslexia and delay children from getting the right help. There are many flaws in the bureaucracy of school systems that make it difficult if not impossible to identify a child with dyslexia and then provide them with the right intervention. Author Holly Korbey from KQED recently wrote about this difficulty in her article “Who Helps Kids With Dyslexia Gain Reading Fluency?”. The article highlights dyslexia expert, educational psychologist, and our friend Martha Youman, Ph.D.

Martha began as an elementary school teacher and quickly realized that despite her master’s in teaching she was completely uneducated to identify her struggling students as dyslexic. Since then, Martha has continued on to become a dyslexia expert and school psychologist to help identify and support those children with learning disabilities. picture of martha youman phdUnfortunately, that isn’t enough, Martha admits “… there are multiple bureaucratic barriers standing in the way of students getting help” (Korbey, 2015). Even if a parent is able to get their child an IEP after months if not years of passing through red tape, it may not be effective. Martha says “…..whether or not IEPs actually help depends upon the individual school’s resources, because teachers and paraprofessionals need to be trained on what exercises to do to help students diagnosed with dyslexia, and the best results come from individual instruction. She admitted that in many cases, IEPs don’t really work and many families must rely on private tutors” (Korbey, 2015). Dyslexia intervention in schools often means a child is taken out of class and given “extra help” in groups of 5-10. Yet individualized 1:1 help is absolutely necessary to teach a dyslexic child how to approach reading in a way that their brain is wired to learn.

Laurie Cutting, professor of special education and faculty director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic says “approximately 1-2 percent of kids will always struggle, but that leaves 48 percent — nearly all of that second half of the classroom — who would be greatly helped with direct instruction correctly administered”(Korbey, 2015). Cutting’s clinic uses the same Orton-Gillingham-based therapy that Lexercise provides; however, we have the advantage of helping any family no matter where they live. She goes on to explain the problem: “’You have a finite amount of money and a bunch of kids. The kids who are going to get the services are most likely the ones who are the most severe or have the most advocates… It’s sort of a fundamental fact of life. It’s too bad that we are not able to capture kids early enough to do some remediation so that they don’t have as many word-level problems. It’s too bad that teachers many times aren’t trained in a way that allows those kids to work through their weaknesses, to sound out their words. Because that would benefit all of the kids”(Korbey, 2015).

Teletherapy illustration-child with clinicianWho will help your child? We will. If you are concerned that your child may be dyslexic you can screen them for free here. Don’t wait for the school to provide inadequate help. Don’t let the school deny and delay your child the help that they need. Lexercise will match you with a specialized therapist who will help your child improve their reading to grade level in a matter of months!

Will Your Child’s Reading Affect Their Prosperity?

kids hands showing coinsAnnie E. Casey’s Kids Count annual report was released last week. Among other things, the report looks at reading proficiency in fourth graders. This report found “an alarming 66 percent of fourth-graders in public school were reading below the proficient level in 2013”, with wide variation in public school students’ reading proficiency from state to state.

Americans are swamped with data about education, health, and well-being, so it is easy to ignore. Why should parents care that two-thirds of 4th-grade public school students in the USA don’t read proficiently? Does this really mean anything for their child’s future? It could be because proficient reading is a very big part of the ticket to adult prosperity.

Research released in 2012 by the Brookings Institution suggests a connection between prosperity and reading. Children whose “benchmarks for success”, including reading skills, are “off track” in elementary school have a much lower chance of earning at least middle-class income by the time they reach middle age. put it this way: “Fourth grade is considered a crucial benchmark for reading because by that age kids are mostly done with formal reading instruction and have moved on to using their reading skills to master other subjects. But if two-thirds of American kids are lacking in such skills, they are unlikely ever to catch up.”

The Brookings Institution suggests there is a role for both public and private responsibilities in helping children reach middle-class prosperity. Parents are used to thinking of reading as the school’s job. But, given the situation described above, parents may want to exercise some “private responsibility” if their child continues to struggle with reading.

According to Planet Money, families in the USA spend about 5% of their income on entertainment and 1.5% on education. Flipping those priorities for just a few months to fund a semester of structured literacy intervention could make all the difference in a child’s chances of prosperity.