Homeschooling Children with Dyslexia

Do you need information about homeschooling children with dyslexia?

In the following article, my friend Christi shares the story of how she helped her dyslexic child thrive, and discusses testing and treatment options for dyslexia in the homeschool.

My heart sank as I read,"the advntshurs uv Buz Lityeer". I wasn't disappointed that my six-year-old son couldn't spell. I was disappointed that, like some cryptic code requiring a secret decoder ring, I had to hold the paper up to a mirror in order to read it. That secret decoder ring revealed what I had already known in my heart to be true; just like my husband, it was quite likely that my little boy struggled with dyslexia.

Symptoms of Dyslexia

In the early elementary years it can be quite difficult for a parent to distinguish normal development from symptoms of a problem. Any child may scramble some letters or use some creative spelling, but dyslexic children may also:

  • Complain about the words floating around on the page,
  • Mispronounce certain words because of auditory processing issues,
  • Be particularly uncoordinated and clumsy, and
  • Exhibit sensory integration issues.

However, parents need to recognize that dyslexia does not equal unintelligent. In fact, dyslexics tend to have higher than average IQs. That can add to the frustration of parents who are homeschooling children with dyslexia. How can a child with a genius level IQ be struggling to read?

Dyslexia Testing in the Homeschool

If you are homeschooling children with dyslexia, seek professional testing. We officially began the process of having our son diagnosed at the end of his second grade year. Prior to then, it's simply too common for a child to invert, scramble or even write letters in mirror image. In fact, many places will not test until a child is seven years old.

Some homeschoolers contact their local public school systems to inquire about testing or seek referrals from a pediatrician. I took my son to our pediatric ophthalmologist and he referred us to a college of optometry that performs dyslexia testing.

Just as there is not one simple place to go to have your child tested, there is not one simple test. My son underwent a battery of fairly intense tests over the course of weeks. The tests examined reading, writing and auditory skills. Because dyslexia comes in varying degrees, it is important to know exactly where your child's struggles lay.

I was told that my son had the most severe case of dyslexia they had ever seen, and that it was doubtful that he would ever read. Yes, I was actually told that.

Treatment Options for Homeschooling
Children with Dyslexia

I eventually found a DVD program through Texas Scottish Rite Hospital that offered real hope. I plunked down a couple of thousand dollars for their Dyslexia Training Program, and we began a process that covered a span of two years. The DVDs show a classroom setting of other children with dyslexia. It was not spellbinding entertainment, but I am profoundly grateful that the mind-numbing process began to work.

Several other programs that we found to be of value for homeschooling children with dyslexia are:

  • P.A.C.E. (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement), which I've come to think of as physical rehabilitation for the brain,
  • Orton-Gillingham, a multi-sensory reading instruction program, and
  • Lindamood-Bell, a critically-acclaimed program for teaching language and literacy skills.

My advice is to do your research, steer away from anything that hasn't been time-tested, and be prepared to pay for quality.

Do not get discouraged if you hear that a program will take years. It is better to commit to a comprehensive program that will take years than it is to waste valuable time jumping from one quick fix to another. Time is of the essence and dyslexia is not something a child will outgrow.

As for my family. My younger son also suffers from dyslexia, as well as double vision. While doctors stop short of saying that dyslexia is genetic, there is often a familial connection.

I'm delighted to say that both of my sons can read, though in all honesty, they are abysmal spellers. It brings me great joy that my son who used to mispronounce words and fall off of chairs now holds a world record for the most balls juggled on a pogo stick.

It has been a long journey. And I have learned that Buzz Lightyear is not the only one who has adventures.

More Help for Homeschooling
Children with Learning Challenges

If you want to learn more about diagnosis and treatment options for children who face learning challenges visit my page on Homeschooling Children with Special Needs to find a transcript of my interview with C.J. Rezac, a nuerodevelopmental specialist at Little Giant Steps.

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