Addressing the reading disability – a big task
True to my nature to learn everything I can about a problem I’m facing, I ordered books on dyslexia and devoured them. We got the first part of the Barton Solution program and started work. There was an almost immediate change. For instance, my son had not prior seen that words are made of different combinations of letters. To him, every word was unique and had to be learned or memorized as a unit. He would, for example, see bag and translate that to: starts with b, little letter, long letter. Then file it in the little Rolodex of memorized words in his mind.
That worked until we hit “beg.” When it wasn’t bag, he would start guessing, based on what the picture looked like or what the sentence clues were. Until we hit bog… then boy. His “reading” would sound like this. “We went to the bag…” “No, look at that letter. It’s an o.” “Oh, beg.” “No, hon, look it’s an o…” “Oh, boy…” It was incredibly frustrating! Talk about falling on God’s patience because mine was shot. That’s about all I did!
Reading disability – learning it’s not a guessing game.
I remember that first night after I figured out it was dyslexia. I was laying in bed with him praying with him and putting him to sleep. I said, “So, reading’s kind of hard, huh?” He said, “Yeah” in the most defeated voice I’d ever heard. (I had always known if we let this thing get too big of a hold, it would affect what he thought of himself. That night, I knew it already had.) I said, “So the other kids at school, they can read?” He said, “Yeah, they brag a lot.” “Brag a lot? What do you mean?” He said, “They say, ‘I can read this. I can read that.'” My heart was nearly breaking for how sad he sounded. I said, “And you can’t?” He said, “No.”
I laid there for a few moments and then I said, “So when you read, do you guess a lot?” He looked at me really puzzled and said, “Mom, that’s all reading is is a lot of guessing.”
That was a “take a breath and realize you were doing all you knew to do” moment, but wow. It was the first time I really “got” how much he was struggling! And yet, he hadn’t given up. My respect for that little boy and all who suffer in silence with this increased exponentially in that moment. I had read with him for over 50 hours at that point, and I had no idea he was literally trying to guess at nearly every word!
After the first few Barton lessons, he finally grasped the concept that each letter made a sound and you put them altogether to make a word. What a breakthrough! One night in bed, we were reading comic strips. He had to find three words that he knew. He found the number 3. I said, “3 is not a word.” He said, “Th r ee. Yes, it is!” I was so happy, I could have cried!
So we bounced along, working through the Barton System until we got back into school for second grade. The homework amount was unbelievable, and we had to ditch most of our reading work just to get the homework done each night. Thankfully, he wasn’t having trouble with math (except word problems), but spelling was a mountain almost too high to climb that first semester. After a LOT of work, we got the first six weeks report card home. He’d gotten an 83 in Language Arts. He was in tutoring for reading. We’d taken him out of Spanish because he just couldn’t handle that too, and his learning was sporadic at best. Each Friday of the spelling tests, it might go good, and it might be a disaster. You just could never tell because he was still guessing at so much.
Then came the turn-around that would change everything…
by Staci Stallings
Parenting a child with a reading disability continues on Part 3 tomorrow.
If you’d like to ask Staci a question, do so in the comment field below.