Dyslexia, not progressing with 9yo, where from here?

(17 Posts)
allotmentshirker Fri 08-May-20 08:20:28

Hi, I'm wondering whether anyone has a similar story to me and worked out a good ending, or just has sane advice. I'm in the lucky position of having dyslexic DS in a brilliant primary school which makes a real effort to accommodate and accept children with special needs. Problem is, he is way way behind, as in at the bottom of his inner city primary class. This is despite the fact that his nursery spotted a problem and so I was early in thinking "dyslexia" and giving him tons and tons of extra help learning to read. He finally got diagnosed about year ago and we have not had any specialist help, but frankly I can't see where we could fit it in time wise from his PoV.

We have had fantastic online homeschooling videos from his teachers during the current lockdown, and this has revealed to me that even with expert lesson planning and my help he takes up to 8 hours to complete a school day which a normal kid would finish in 3 or 4 maximum (I've got him to complete the more important tasks that at school he always leaves unfinished, but we've had to miss out on the arts part of the curriculum). The stuff that stretches pupils is, logically, left to the end of the lesson, so he never gets to the fun stuff. His writing is virtually illegible, half of his words are still spelt with reversals and omissions if the spelling is decipherable at all, and his concentration in a normal lesson, no matter how wonderfully delivered, dies after a few minutes. He makes tons of silly mistakes and, like all dyslexics, seems as though he's failing to focus rather than simply unable to do it, and the less well-trained teachers sometimes betray their annoyance with him. I had hoped his dyslexia would start to become less evident by now but, though his DD and I do all the dyslexia stuff like Nessy, toe by toe, Nessy touch typing and loads of spelling, maths and everything help with him, this is where we're at.

He has an IQ in the top 1-3% (they get tested on their cognitive abilities as part of the dyslexia test), and this has always been apparent by the way he talks and analyses information. His brain whizzes along like Eddie Izzard's and he is extremely funny and adult. One day he will do well if his confidence and drive stay intact. But I feel we are going to have no option but to send him to one of the local secondaries that are just trying their best to keep kids out of gangs round here/drill kids into submission. That would kill any interest he might have in learning, because dyslexics just can't do the rote learning thing, or cope with the hour or two-hour long lessons that seem to be standard. (I think he might also have mild ADHD or ADD but that's another story). He needs a smaller class where he's monitored and his teaching is differentiated.

When we have parent teacher meetings and I ask whether he's capable of doing an 11+ so I can get him into a nice secondary with smaller class sizes and the possibility of studying things he adores like DT and engineering I'm always told how wonderfully bright, verbally advanced and imaginative he is by his lovely intelligent smiley teacher. But the fact is that his work doesn't compare with that of any normal 9yo (dyslexics can't get their work into written form at all easily) and soon I'm going to have to make hard decisions. I don't think he's capable of doing anything like the Ebacc (compulsory at the local state secondary, but hugely difficult for children with SEN because taking a foreign language is compulsory) but we won't know for sure till he's older. I can't remove the possibility from him of being taught in a way that means he can get some qualifications - though this would be a massive financial commitment. He is our only child though. Sometimes I just think we need to find a special school for dyslexics, but none of them seem to cater for children who love science like him; they seem to be all about art and sport, and we would have to move to the country! We're not that rich. Also, so many dyslexic kids manage to turn things around at secondary and suddenly do really well; but at the moment our DS is too babyish to have worked out that he should be doing 11+ papers in his free time (joke) and spends most of his time playing with lego, pokemon or super zings, or reading the Beano. Anyone with similar story or help?

OP’s posts: |
bPtPEAeLnXPug9E Sun 10-May-20 01:02:11

Hi, I can totally sympathise, you’ve more or less described our daughter, she’s now 15 (so yr 10 and will be sitting GCSEs next year (for better or worse!) we did in a round about way go for the private education route for her (though have guilt as have sent our son yr 7) who has no educational difficulties and is very bright to the local comprehensive to battle it out- he should do well anywhere right? )
Similar to you our dd after a bit of pushing got extra help at primary school (we sent her to a private tutor 1hr/ week also battled through the toe by toe etc, it’s really hard work and to her credit she toed the line, if not always being as grateful to the teachers as they would have liked (not sure what they expect when you try to get a child to do something they find impossible). Having got an extra 25% time and a reader for her SATs and because she’s bright (in a very similar way to how you describe your son, she can argue her point brilliantly - but not if asked to write it down) she scored around the expected 100 (a little above in maths) Despite getting 5 /20 on the spelling test smile . She wanted to go to secondary school with her friends and we’d heard good things about their special needs, so sent her to a large catholic secondary. However, she just got lost in the system (I maybe could have done more to push it) but after the 1st half term they put her down into a lower maths group and after a meeting with the head of yr and maths and having to re-explain her situation, it became clear she was never going to get the opportunity to move back up, we decided to pull her out and move her to a small private school which without saying it directly, specialises in kids with special needs, though there are also regular kids who all benefit from a more personal education too. There were only 7 in her year group when she joined, though now it’s got to gcse crunch time in yr 10 there are 24, but they’re spilt into 2 forms and the English and maths they’re split into 3 groups so she gets lot of help and it’s really paying off. We think it’s the right school for her, but you never do the alternate experiment so will never know. No idea what she’ll actually achieve grade wise next year, but she’s near top of the class in maths and science so that has given her a lot of confidence, rather than being in some lower middle set, in a big school and she’s happy, so worth the money. She does all her work on a laptop, so doesn’t have to write much any more, (spellchecker still doesn’t recognise dome of her spellings but at least it’s vaugly legible ) she’ll get a reader for all subjects and a scribe for alll but maths, for her GCSE’s so she has the best chance possible.
It sounds like you know your son really well and you are much further ahead with your understanding than I was n my daughter was 9 - think that was the point I went to the tutor and asked if she could start again in teaching her how to hold a pencil and write! Didn’t realise she was dyslexic till yr 4 as she’d just scraped by as a bit below average student- A really good yr 4 primary teacher recognised what we all thought that there was more in her. It was Only when I saw how much quicker my 2nd took up reading did I realise that everyone else wasn’t experiencing the same level of difficulty.
Do what you think is best for him, if you can find a small independent school that truly focuses on the chidren and not their rating or grades then great, if that happens to be the local comprehensive and theY listen to you and support you rather than quoting their system at you then great. He will find his own way, stick with the touch typing lessons and toe by toe while you still can, if he has a curios mind he’ll succeed life in the end despite modern education.

myself2020 Sun 10-May-20 07:21:12

My son is also very dyslexic (and dysgraphic). our small independent school is a lifesafer. its really sad, but with quiet SENDs needs, state schools just don’t have the resources and kids get lost (after 6 weeks the teacher hadn’t realised my son was in her school - too busy with the noisy and aggressive kids).

sashh Sun 10-May-20 08:15:57

Dyslexic 50+ year old here so I went through the sstem being called lazy.

OK it will probably always take your DS longer to complete reading and writing tasks but he will get faster.

Does he have coloured overlays? They were a game changer for me.

I would also suggest a Kindle (not the fire), not cheap but you can get all the classic books free from various places. You can set it up with a dyslexia friendly font and change the text size and layout so your ds isn't faced with a 'wall' of text.

I'd suggest getting him to learn to touch type, there are loads of free 'learn to type' apps.

Has he tried using a tablet with hand writing recognition?

One thing I will say is don't prioritise written work over art and practical subjects.

Being dyslexic is tyring, being able to make something, either from crafts or meccano or electronics is fabulous, it's somethign you can do, do well and achieve in.

Experiment with producing work in different formats eg he might struggle to write a page about subject X, but he might be able to do a power point and present the information to camera. A documentary on the wildlife in your garden / local park filmed on a phone may have all the content needed.

Make sure he is learning, let him explore the way he learns, what works for him and what doesn't. Get him to keep a diary of his dyslexia (not necessarily a written oine), it does vary, some days I just canot read, and I love reading, but I will read the same page 3 times and not retained anything.

There is a company that employs architects who are dyslexic, and only ones who are dyslexic, the company finds it cheaper to emply other people to write the reports but let the dyslexics do the actual designing bewcause the designs work.

I got an electronics kit at about your son's age, it was the best present I ever had and in montyhs I had built a radio, wired up an alarm for my bedroom (sound or light so I could read after hours) and various other projects.

Dyslexia is as much a gift as a difficulty, we excell in certain areas, but we are ready for new technology and often we are the ones designing it.

Have you been watching the Jamie Oliver cooking series? He cooked a fabulous cake for his daughter's birthday, but had misspelled the bunting. I believe he dictates his cookery books.

As for languages, I and a couple of other dyslexics, on my uni course picked up BSL easily. There is no written component, it has a logic to it that just makes sense to dyslexics and a GCSE is being developed.

Good luck to you and your ds.

BlueTuesday20 Sun 10-May-20 09:12:19

I am reading with interest as my child has difficulties with reading and writing, but like yours, is bright, articulate and really interested in huge variety of subjects at an advanced level. Documentaries on BBC iPlayer are great.

I'm sorry I don't have any answers, as looking for some myself. I really admire the depth you are going to sort his problems. I also agree with the poster above who is dyslexic who says don't leave out the fun stuff. My child can barely manage to draw stick figures. Any kind of art helps develop fine motor skills and muscles needed for writing (also swimming and upper body strength and exercise as shoulders also important in writing), and I am sure is an important in helping brain development. Art at school is far too prescriptive too - they all produce the same piece ' in the style of'. They need to have time to express themselves freely. Mine will no longer do that which makes me incredibly sad - due to peer and teacher pressure about what is 'good'.

Hope you find some answers.

cathcath2 Tue 12-May-20 10:52:14

Allow him to dictate some of his writing - scribe for him or use word. He may well be allowed a scribe for exams and you want him to experience being able to get all his thoughts down on paper anyway. Allow him to do things he loves - you want him to keep a love of learning. There are lots of people with dyslexia that are marvellously successful - show him examples. As he gets older, he needs to understand that his dyslexia is going to make some things harder but it doesn't mean he can't succeed in life.

allotmentshirker Wed 13-May-20 07:31:07

Thankyou everyone for all your encouraging responses. My conclusion from this is that I am going to try to get my son into an independent school even if that means leaving town proper because everywhere round here is 11+ entry and pretty academic even if they say they have good SEND provision. I wonder how you found your amazing small school, poster with the unspellable name. It sounds like exactly what I would be trying to get to, may not be anywhere I am. Might need to check much farther afield, though difficult with my mum living alone.

I am scribing for DS already where the task allows, although that requires courage because I am yet to meet anyone apart from his SENCO who doesn't see that as a copout rather than the correct way to learn via "chunking" and is the main reason our school days have gone on from 9 till 5pm sometimes. His touch typing will take time, and maybe we need to cut some of the 3+ hours he takes to do his daily English lessons in lockdown to make room for the touch typing, reading and Nessy again.

Sashh, I hope you were able to find recognition for your talents and that you ended up working somewhere that doesn't prioritise literacy skills too much, even though you must have improved massively. DS's dad is dyslexic and wouldn't have read my post because of its length. My son does love architecture and I would love to find such a company one day, but maybe he would benefit from an engineering kit too. In the future foundation courses are apparently a good alternative route into architecture and other jobs my DS would probably enjoy.

If anyone has any further tips please carry this on because I think I may not be the only parent in this situation and it is ongoing for a lot of parents who won't yet have visited the Special Needs chat forums. I do find there are tons of thoughtless teachers out there offering demoralisation big time because dyslexic kids get viewed as attention-seeking lazybones who probably have pushy mums by some teachers, and it can be a lot to deal with for the parent as well as the kid (my DS picks up on every raised eyebrow/sigh/tut from his teachers)! I am prone to being bullied into giving up as much as my child, who doesn't want to stand out and so doesn't use his coloured overlays or his Talking Tin at school even though they would up his game enormously.

OP’s posts: |
ShouldWeChangeTheBulb Sat 23-May-20 13:19:38

Don’t really have any advice but I could have written your post. I keep saying to the teachers that my DD isn’t keeping up but they dismiss me. She has a diagnosis but the school don’t give her any additional support. I’ve always know writing is difficult for her but this period of home schooling has shown me just how much slower her learning and processing is and how difficult it is for her to retain vocabulary etc.
My DD also has a very high IQ but struggles with elements of maths and possibly has dyspraxia and has some mild social communication traits too. She is Y4 and I’m thinking small nurturing private before the SATS madness sets in.

Youngatheart76 Mon 25-May-20 08:43:03

I'm a teacher and have worked with many children like your son.
I also went to both Oxbridge unis, one for a science undergrad degree and one for teacher training and there were people like this at both so don't worry about him being disadvantaged if he is capable.
My biggest piece of advice is get him to learn to type fluently. There are devices called NEOs which are just keypads and a small screen, designed for kids like this. They're nothing fancy but often a game changer. Its like a computer apart from nothing to distract you from writing. You plug it into a computer and hit send and it will appear on word.
Also encourage him to read as much as possible. Following his interests of course, not pushing him if he's not into it.
A bit of handwriting practice is useful but handwriting and spelling becomes less and less important very quickly as he goes through school. As he specialises his subjects at both GCSE but particularly a level, his abilities will count much more than his disabilities.
Good luck.

GreenWillowTree Mon 25-May-20 08:53:56

Can he use a computer in to do his work. It sounds like so much of his brain is being taken up with spelling and hand writing that he struggles to complete the tasks. Could he use the iPad as the predictive text function helps me enormously. I write way more because I don’t have to spell everything.
He sounds very determined as he must be absolutely exhausted, completing all that work.

Tigerty Mon 25-May-20 09:28:53

He’s losing focus after a few minutes as he’s learning hard and that’s how much his brain can take in in one go. Give him a few minutes break, I do something physical to give his brain a chance to process what he’s learnt. Then back again for another few minutes of learning. When I do this my learning feels continuous. If you make him keep going after he loses focus he will either lose the original learning or not take in the extra learning.

Was it just his working memory that scored low not his processing ability? If his processing ability is very high (you mentioned his IQ) then he has stealth dyslexia and he’ll find that sometimes he’ll be able to learn better when he’s tired as this slows his processing ability down so his working memory has a better chance to get things out of his head. I found this while writing academic essays but it may help in future when he has to write English essays.

I had my DS learn spellings while bouncing on a trampoline. Linking spellings to one of the senses helped. Mnemonics help too.

It’s likely that he won’t be able to estimate how much time has passed and also when he’s under pressure he’ll get his left and right mixed up. Find strategies for these too.

Tigerty Mon 25-May-20 09:34:37

I found the Studying with Dyslexia by Janet Godwin extremely helpful. It’s a little palgrave Macmillan book (literally as it’s pocket sized). Now it’s aimed at university studying so not for your 9 year old to read yet but there are some good strategies in there that you may be able to use with him. So one for you to read to learn what could help him.

Mistressiggi Tue 26-May-20 00:58:57

Don't assume he can't do a MFL is one thing I would say - he doesn't need to become fluent just enough to pass. I've heard Spanish is an easier one for dyslexic people to pick up, if you get a choice.
During lock down DS has discovered a lot of the work sent home can be listened to by Immersive reader. He's a book to read (and hates the thought) so we are taking advantage of audible having some free children's audio books just now. But best of all is the dictation option on Word. He can fly through a piece of English work - does still need to be checked though as it can pick you up wrongly.

Mistressiggi Tue 26-May-20 01:00:09

I thought I was going to commit Harakiri doing Toe by Toe.

LittleFoxKit Tue 26-May-20 08:26:26

@allotmentshirker would you consider/be able to afford a private school that specialises in dyslexia?
I went to a absolutely fabulous one, were in my class of 16, even the most severly dyslexic pupils completed gcses with very acceptable grades (mixtures of A*s-Ds, depending on natural intellect), with lots of out door activities and extra curricular. Teachers were all specially trained in teaching dyslexia and learning disabilities and automatically taught in a dyslexia friendly way. Great art and DT department and focus on what the kids write good at and enjoyed rather the regimented expectations.

Have a look at

St David's College in Llandudno

I am dyslexic, dyspraxia, ADHD and Autistic, and got Straight As and A*s thanks to St David's, which was a huge deal after being told by all my previous teachers I would fail miserably. They cater for year 6-13. I left at year 11 as we didnt realise how much I had benefitted from being there and actually failed my A levels due to lack of approrpiate support in state school but if I'd stayed there I would have probably continued to achieve just as well. They also do scholarships and bursaries

Aemos Sat 28-Nov-20 08:20:24

Hi, I know this is an old thread but I wanted to put in my two cents. My son is also nine and also at a state primary and looking at the rather bleak prospect (for him) of a state secondary. He’s bright enough to go to a grammar. Until recently there would have been absolutely no chance of that happening, but he started one to one tutoring a year ago with a tutor I found through PATOSS and that’s made a huge difference. I’ve s stopped that now, partly because of cost (&60 a week), but also because I wasn’t sure it was the best approach long term. I recently read a book called ‘Why Children Can’t Read’ by Dianne McGuinness’ which is so interesting and basically makes the case that you need to teach reading in a purely logical way, similar to the way the poster described learning BSL. I’ve been using her book ‘Sound Steps to Reading’ with my son and his younger brother. Any synthetic phonics programme would be similar, though I think not quite as good.

I also did an online programme with him called Fast ForWord, which addresses underlying difficulties with working memory, auditory processing, processing speed.

I’m not sure my son will get into a grammar (we’re investigating the move to the country instead), but he’s actually keeping up in class for the first time ever. He’s summer born so I also asked if he could repeat Year 4 and that’s helping a lot, but there’s a real change in his abilities.

MaryWake Sun 03-Jan-21 15:41:18

Hi, I am too! The best advice I can give is develop other areas as they help to improve the challenges and also work from a laptop, then the spelling etc is done for you, you can also copy and paste work into a logical order. Playing musical instruments and playing with balance games massively improves things. I would recommend private music lessons, a decent laptop and concentrate on what they can do and so the fun stuff first, hope that helps. I would also have a private tutor once a week to, this will give good quality one to one time to work through homework. There are no quick fixes......

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