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Help - I'm drowning!


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Joined: May 10, 2010
Posts: 3
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Posted May 10, 2010 at 12:47:47 AM
Subject: Help - I'm drowning!

My 8 year old son has recently been diagnosed with Dyslexia.Unfortunately, Australia does very little towards assiting those with Dyslexia & I am trying to figure out what I should do? I am a little annoyed that our school is seeking information on what to do with him, from me! - I am seeking some direction from them & although they are willing, they know nothing about Dyslexia & suddenly I am the expert! - which I'm not but, I am learning more & more each day. Anyway, I just want some opinions regarding whetehr a school that focuses on individual, self paced learning will work or if I'd be creating even more problems by removing him from the familiarity of his exisiting school.

?????

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geodob2
Joined Jun 12, 2009
Posts: 41

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Posted:May 10, 2010 7:01:06 AM

Hi PennyB, good to see someone else from Oz here.
Getting the diagnosis is the first stage, the next stage involves you becoming an expert on Dyslexia.
Which comes as a shock, but it does give you some control.
As you become an expert, you will find that Dyslexia is a label for a range of different underlying difficulties. Where each of them need a different type of support.
So you will need to identify and get a good understanding of what your son's particular difficulties are, and what sort of support can be provided.
Which you will need to explain to each new teacher, each year.
Though you also need to understand it, so that you can provide support for your son at home and also understand the daily problems that he has.
As for 'self paced learning', I would be concerned that this could be used to avoid providing any support? Where Dyslexia isn't resolved by simply giving a student extra time to catch up.
But an important thing about Dyslexia, is that it needs to be looked at as a Learning Difference.

Did you get a written report with the diagnosis, as that's what you need to start with understanding?

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Mandi
Joined May 05, 2008
Posts: 424

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Posted:May 11, 2010 7:59:36 AM

Ok, take a deep breath for a second. Dyslexia is a very serious matter of which there are 3 atleast primary sorts. I will touch on what i would try to do if i were you in a moment. But first, i want to tell you a little about me. Because, i am dyslexic. I am also an adult now. But once upon a time i was your son's age. And back then, they really had alot fewer options and choices and methods of dealing. It totally messed my parents up and the result is they totally messed me up. But the reason i want to tell you about me a little is because, i am alright. And it can and will work itself out one way or another, and all you can really do is support him while it does, and try to teach him to compensate while he does things in the way he has to do them to become a functional literate member of society.

So, about me, I am almost 30. I am preparing to have a child of my own soon i am hoping. Married to a PHD in theoretical physics. He is from Finland. Which means as his parents speak really no english as a dyslexic, i also speak Finnish... And Swedish... And some Korean, and a little spanish, my dutch is pretty decent as is my German at the moment i am living in Vienna Austria.... I also speak Irish gaelic, and actually a couple other languages also including polish. I could write all this in any one of those languages but it would be a pointless demonstration. My point is, dyslexia affects language especially written language related issues. Yet, i can read and write in a number of languages and i couldn't read and write my own first name because my dyslexia was so severe when i was your son's age. I was 10 before i could do that.

Dyslexics, are some of the most highly intelligent people. Their brains function a little differently so they may have to start with the building blocks rather than from the point go. Think about it as a race track for a moment.... First dyslexics have to draw in the lines and build the stands, Then we put up the starting line and finnish line, then we run the race. We have to wire our own brains to deal with written language. That is just the way we are. But once we do that, we are as able as anyone else most of the time. Often we are far more intelligent and once we are able to express ourselves in writing we do very well.

When i write this i have to write phonetically. Which means i might as well spell it fonetically. This is common with dyslexics. Many of us have to sound out words this way as we read and as we write our whole lives. We get very good at it and very fast with alot of practice. The result is though, often we do need a little extra time on tests and stuff as we don't read as fast as other people nor do we write as fast as we have to go through it sound by sound rather than memorizing the words visually which is what is commonly taught in schools today.

You have not said weather your son has any particular dyslexia related issues. So i don't know what i can say to you as actual specific guidance. But you got some good guidance earlier.

What is important to do, is to find out what kind of dyslexia your son has and then look for what systems and different emmm... stuff exists to help your son to learn whatever it is he needs to learn that has caused you to even feel the need to have him diagnosed.

When i was 10 i learned to read and write my first name. When i was 12 i was offered admittance to a special program in my school district for the 50 brightest kids in the city. Offered only to those 50 kids each year and the 50 from the previous years as well. I tell you this because i know you are scared. But being scared is the worst thing you can do for your child. The more scared you are of his issues the more scared of himself he will be. You set the example. You can do a much better job than my parents did. You already are, getting good advice and trying to become an expert yourself rather than simply trusting blindly what anyone and everyone who knows some small amount about this tells you. You keep looking for methods to help him you will find them because they are out there.

At his age i am guessing the issue is reading difficulty and the school just wants to let him take untimed tests and such? At this stage in the game, that is not what he needs. He may need some kind of system or method of learning such as the one i used when i was around his age. And it won't work over night. It will take time and effort and it will be tedious and terrible, flat out, it sux for dyslexics to learn to read. But, what he needs is such a system first, also he likely needs alot of 1 on 1 support while he is learning using such a system. I used Orton Gullingham... Guillingham? I will have some spelling issues for the rest of my life, but if people know i think phonetically reading what i am trying to say is usually quite easy even when i make a mistake. Later on in his school carreer, after the race's foundations have been built in his brain using such a method, and he has done some catching up, all that will be necesary is extra time to read and write stuff and on tests. It's not that we need longer to think up our answers to the test questions. Dyslexics are quite imaginative and tend to be highly creative people. But we need more time to decode the question itself and then to "encode" our answer into the proper format that is required.

I hope all this is some how useful to you and that knowing that many dyslexics grow up to live highly functional happy lives full of love and competence, not only did i marry a PHD but i went to college for archaeology myself. At the moment, my focus is largely on egyptology and i also have a sick passion for evolution. Dyslexic people are plenty able once they have the tools to get around the societal construct of written language and your son, can and will have a full happy life also... He is still young. So don't feel quite so bogged down, dyslexia is hardly the 5th horse of the apocalypse.... Truly... There were only for of those and as Dyslexia isn't the fifth nor is it any one of the 4.... Things will turn out alright with a little extra effort on your part to get him some of the help to build the foundation that he needs and patience while he does it and loads and loads of difficult hours of pain staking labor from him. But, it is all worth it in the end. Being able to read and write.... You can't imagine how closed and small your world is if you can't, if you have never really met with an issue like dyslexia personally that just shuts down.... your whole world. Making it tiny and little rather than huge and endless.... So best of luck to you and in time i hope his world is huge, as mine is, as a dyslexic person, and just as a person. It will all work out alright int he end.

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PennyB
Joined May 10, 2010
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Posted:May 12, 2010 12:55:26 AM

Thank you for your reply.............I understand that it is going to be quite some journey! It helps to know & hear stories from those who understand what we are going through. I really wish that someone could just give me the magic answers to what should I be doing! - ah if only I had a crystal ball!

As part of my journey with my son, I am now beginning to realize that we need to be talking about this more in Australia. I am wanting to start up a support network of parents & those with dyslexia, so please - anyone anywhere in Australia ( or anywhere else) contact me and let me know your story and what your thoughts are - you are helping me learn!

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DRHD
Joined Apr 29, 2008
Posts: 135

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Posted:May 13, 2010 1:55:29 PM

Pennyb.

Your posting was very interesting and even more so that you reside in Austrailia. The application of special education protections and identification criteria are vastly different than would be in the United States. The applications of IDEA are not applicable to your child or to you and you have a complete different chain of command and/or protocul afforded to you as an Australian citizen. But what are you to do and where do you begin this journey?

The system of special education in your country is quite different in substance than what you would find in the United States. Our individual States define their own rules and regulations that govern special education and this would be the csse in your country. Your Territories will govern reules and regulations. Australia as a contry has passed laws that govern equity and rehabilitation but are not quite as specific to children with disabilities as are here in the US. My advice to you is to seek counsel from your local university school of education and/or to discusss your concerns with the Headmaster or leadership head of your child's school. If there is an equivalent Territory Department of Education I would even seek information from that source. All things being equal, you need to understand the chain of command in these matters from your Territory and country and begin your journey from there.

The emphasis for educational provisions for children with special needs in Australia is largely focused on "inclusion" along with all other children in a school setting. This has both positive and negative outcomes. So begin with the local university and get their opinions. The universities in Australia are very research based and should be able to help you.

Finally, a word of caution about advice you might obtain in this forum. The advice may not be applicable to your needs in Australia.
DRHD

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PennyB
Joined May 10, 2010
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Posted:May 14, 2010 2:10:39 AM

Thanks - I appreciate your feedback. You are quite right about Australia's focus on inclusion. Our school has been wonderful in that they are willing to make changes but, are not proactive in recommending the changes....it is coming from me & what I am learning. Our teachers just aren't equiped with the knowledge they need with regatrds to Dyslexia & other LD's

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geodob2
Joined Jun 12, 2009
Posts: 41

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Posted:May 14, 2010 3:02:05 AM

Do you know about SPELD which you might find helpful.
Here's a link to the NSW branch, but they have a branch in each state:
http://www.speldnsw.org.au/

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