I had made the following comments on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution “Get Schooled” blog on September 1, 2015, regarding dyslexia.  I had been a high school Student Support Teach (SST) Chair and a reading specialist.  Link to this “Get Schooled” thread: http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/08/28/is-georgia-failing-to-test-early-and-often-enough-for-learning-disabilities/?showcomments=true

“One concrete, true example, for you, for reflection.  A student was about to drop out of school at age 17 in the 11th grade.  This student’s psychological test results (administered by the school system upon the SST request) indicated that this student had a severe visual memory problem recalling Dolch Sight Words in written form on 2nd and 3rd grade level.  This was a specific learning disability which caused this student not to be able to read. This student had average intelligence, overall.  This student would never be able to change the phenomena in his brain function that caused the specific visual memory problem.  Dyslexia, in its purest form, simply means “cannot read.”  (See the GDOE link provided by “Ifollowtherulessoshldyou,” under the subheading for “Specific Learning Disabilities,” and then under “dyslexia,”which states this same “definition” in its purest form for dyslexia. Link here: https://www.gadoe.org/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Special-Education-Services/Pages/Specific-Learning-Disability.aspx  ) This student was labeled as having a “Specific Learning Disability” and was able to work with Special Education teachers to help compensate for this lifelong disability.  This student graduated from high school at age 20 with a Special Education High School Diploma.  This student did not drop out of school.  That stands on his/her record to this day.  This student is married with 2 (or more) children and was working in a hospital, the last I had heard.

What was important to diagnose, or to assess, with this student was the particular brain function going on in this student’s brain which interfered with being able to read which was severe visual memory impairment with words.  The term “dyslexia” would have been too vague to have addressed this visual memory impairment with compensatory instructional strategies effectively.”


Another poster’s response to my comments, above:

Mary, I don’t need a “true example” of what a child with dyslexia goes through because I live it with my son EVERY day.  Your words are nice, but they helped my son not at all in Gwinnett County.  Whatever the “cause” of a child’s dyslexia, if it is never diagnosed and no interventions are given, they WILL FAIL to reach their true potential.  If children receive no screening, no intervention, no accommodations, they cannot succeed.  And if teachers don’t know what dyslexia symptoms look like, they will not notice it.  My son had ALL the non-reading warning signs of dyslexia, but is highly intelligent (98th percentile on his CogAT).  This allowed him to read up to a point.  In second grade, he was reading two grade levels above his grade.  In third grade, he read one grade level ahead.  In fourth grade, he was reading at grade level.  In other words, he hit a brick wall by third grade and made no progress in reading skills.  His teachers recognized all his “non-reading” dyslexia symptoms as problems – dysgraphia (although we weren’t allowed to call it that since labels are ‘bad’), inability to memorize math facts, inability to memorize spelling words, typos SO bad that even spell check doesn’t pull up the correct words most times, dropping small words like “the, to, it, for, etc” when reading and writing, difficulty memorizing dates for history, forgetting left and right, difficulty tying shoes even in fourth grade, struggling to read aloud which showed in non automatic reading with unknown words randomly guessed at – but never recognized that they were all caused by his dyslexia.  He was given accomodations to help with his issues, but NO intervention because dyslexia wasn’t even on their radar.  He wasn’t diagnosed until we left Gwinnett public schools and enrolled my son in a state funded charter school.  His teacher in fifth grade recognized the warning signs the first week of school.  He is now getting tutoring with an orton-gillingham modeled reading program and his reading has improved dramatically since then.  When I went back to our local public school to see what kind of interventions would be provided for his dyslexia, I was informed NONE.  See, they aren’t required to provide intervention, only accommodation.

My response to that other poster’s comments:

“I agree with your post.  What you have given are concrete specifics regarding your son’s developmental history and you should continue to share it for it needs all of the publicity that his story can engender.  The point of my post was to look at specific – not vague – generalities such as ‘can’t read,’ and you have tackled that.  I am on your side. May I suggest that you provide a link or two for this reading audience regarding the ‘orton-gillingham method,’ which you have found to be successful with your son’s difficulty?

I spent my entire 35 years in public education (through 2006) doing ‘everything in my power to make sure that no . . .children have to suffer. . . in a school model that is designed to let them fall through the cracks.’  We are on the same side.

Keep your hope and courage high.  Have you consulted medical brain specialists, such as neurologists and neurosurgeons, also?”

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