Kids like Aleczander need multi-sensory instruction utilizing Orton-Gillingham time tested methods in order to learn to read and write. In addition to being enrolled in a third grade classroom at a private school, Aleczander was able to attend an after school dyslexia program at the Scottish Rite Learning Center. In January of this school year, he was forced to exit the program due to the fact that his speech continues to be unintelligible to most listeners in connected speech. The good news is that Aleczander really was able to benefit from the dyslexia program and that he is starting with a new speech therapist tomorrow. Our hope is that after intensive therapy for his apraxia, he can re-enroll at Scottish Rite next fall. Please keep your fingers crossed!
Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.003 defines dyslexia in this way:
(1) Dyslexia means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity.
(2) Related disorders includes disorders similar to or related to dyslexia such as developmental auditory imperception, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.
As a toddler, Aleczander’s language, fine and gross motor skills were delayed so, acting upon advice from Aleczander’s doctor, his parents sought and received special education interventions for him through the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (Odessa ISD) and through Early Childhood Intervention Services (Permian Basin Rehab Center).
From the Texas educational code, we read about these major warning signs of dyslexia; At the Preschool level, children with dyslexia may:
- talk later than most children
- have difficulty with rhyming, have difficulty pronouncing words (i.e., busgetti for spaghetti, mawn lower for lawn mower)
- have poor auditory memory for nursery rhymes and chants
- be slow to add new vocabulary words
- be unable to recall the right word
- have trouble learning numbers, days of the week, colors, shapes, and how to spell and
write his or her name.
After Aleczander and his family moved to San Antonio, parents attempted to enroll Aleczander in programs similar to the Permian Basin ones. Sadly, despite his previous assessments and record of special education services, Aleczander was denied admittance to PreKindergarten and wasn’t assessed for any special education services at all until he was six years old. Although Aleczander no longer attends a public school, he did attend his local elementary school during Kindergarten and First Grade school years. Although Aleczander displayed the characteristics of dyslexia as delineated in Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.003 (see below), public educators and specialists didn’t ever realize that he met disability criteria as a student with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and apraxia.
Children in Kindergarten through Third Grade will likely:
- fail to understand that words come apart; for example, that snowman can be pulled apart into snow and man and/or that the word man can be broken down still further and sounded out as /m/ /ă/ /n/
- have difficulty learning the letter names and their corresponding sounds
- have difficulty decoding single words (reading single words in isolation)
- have difficulty spelling phonetically
- read dysfluently (choppy and labored)
- rely on pictures, context or memory to recognize a word.
During Aleczander’s 2nd grade year, he was no longer attending public school when his parents had him evaluated by a pediatric neurologist. Dr. Jerry Tomasovic provided this information to his parents: “Aleczander has congenital developmental dyspraxia. Public school teachers and therapists who tell you that he will learn to read and write like other children without speech, physical, occupational and academic therapy aren’t misinformed or mistaken, they are lying to you. The severe stuttering that he developed during the previous six months isn’t indicative of epilepsy or a brain tumor, it’s caused by stress.”
Fast forward to today’s video. This is what multi-sensory instruction looks like. Aleczander’s teacher and classmates understand (as no one at the public system ever was able to do) that Aleczander has a learning disability that makes it hard (but not impossible) for him to learn to read and write. Watch as Aleczander uses what looks like a fly swatter to slap one-syllable “Popper Words.” These high frequency words have to be memorized by children with dyslexia as most cannot be sounded out phonetically. See Aleczander’s excitement grow as he continues to benefit from his teacher’s enthusiasm, the support of his classmates, and the utilization of the multi-sensory teaching techniques that are also used in the after school dyslexia program.