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What is wrong with my daughter?

(53 Posts)
Etah Sat 28-Jun-14 11:29:33

She is 7 and is considered dyslexic, not sure if the school is doing enough but she is getting better at reading...unless well below her peers. Her teacher keeps complaining she is not reading the book in her book bag but it is too difficult for her. She reads at home but mostly pictures book for young children. Spelling is still a struggle.

I sat down to do some maths with ther this morning and she can not work out:

_ + 1 = 3

4 + _ = 4

and other similar problems.

This was on a computer website recommended by the school.
Usually she does staff like this for homework, I have to seat beside her with beads or numicon, she struggles but works out the answers eventually.
Today she couldn't do it easily all by herself not even using her fingers.

Don't get me started on times tables.

It is so frustrating and I know I must handle it better. I want to give her a good childhood with lots of extra curricular activities and interesting things to do and lots of play time but now I am starting to think I am doing it all wrong and should give up swimming, ballet, drama, playground, park and just stay at home teaching her.

The only way I can pay any kind of tutoring is if I cut any of the activities above which I struggle very much, save and go without myself to provide for her.

I am glad I am not working in August, so instead of spending the days out having fun I will mostly concentrate on working with her at home. She will still have few days holidays with GPs though.

Also I need to go and talk to teacher and SENCO again, don't I? Always when I do (not a lot though, but I had to push for a dyslexia assessment) I feel like I am being U and it is my fault I don't do enough at home, and I am one of "those" parents...don't I know she will "click" eventually?

I can't believe she will start Y3 like this!

What do you think?
Am I over reacting?

Mitzi50 Sat 28-Jun-14 12:53:48

Etah for her reading try "Toe by Toe"
which is easy for a non-professional to use and provide suitable support.

For her maths, if you have access to numicom, I would echo neolara's suggestion to ask the school to photocopy the handbooks and work through the exercises. You might also want to look at something like this

Don't despair like KiaOraOAotearoa my daughter is severely dyslexic but is also an academic high achiever. She has developed strategies to cope with her dyslexia, has a great work ethic and her dyslexia has helped her to "think outside the box".

With regard to outside activities, you may want to consider dropping something in favour of music lessons of some description as there is a lot of research to suggest that this can be beneficial to young dyslexic learners as it helps them "focus on auditory and motor timing skills and highlights the rhythms of language". However don't get hung up on doing grades as this can present another set of additional challenges that your daughter could probably do without.

I would provide extra support at home but wouldn't do more than 20 mins a day as you could easily switch your daughter off learning if you put too much pressure on her. Also try to make sure that you read a book to her every day as reading is about so much more than just decoding the words on the page. Hopefully you will be able to help her develop a love of reading and books.

didiimaginethis Sat 28-Jun-14 12:56:27

Or use your numicon shapes and big card shapes of =, +, - etc. I love numicon, think it is absolutely brilliant and use it as much as I can with my maths group.

throckenholt Sat 28-Jun-14 13:15:50

for me not seeing __ + 1=3 is just unimaginable...

that is the problem - for you it is so ingrained is impossible to imagine it not making sense. For your daughter it is the equivalent to you being given it in chinese characters. It just doesn't mean anything yet.

You need to work at two things - one the basic manipulation of ideas - how many more of this do we need, how many have I got left if I take away (or eat) this many, how many do we need if we have 3 each etc.

And also along side that - writing down things like 3 can represent 3 cats, 3 pens, 3 sweets, or 3 anything and write down the sums - say you have 3 sweets and I give you 3 more - how many have you got now, ok so say there are 3 dogs in the park and someone brings in 3 more - how many dogs, 3 plates on the tables - 6 people - how many more plates do we need ? And each time write them down as numbers.

Gradually she will realise that the abstract numbers can be used to quantify anything and they always follow the same rules.

Anything that makes is make sense for her is fine - and make it fun, and little and often - don't push too far too fast - you are really trying to build her confidence.

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 28-Jun-14 13:16:00

Agree with reading to her. I believe in literature, not " literacy", meaning; once the love of great stories is instilled, a child wants to read. Ignore the reading books the school gives her if they are not interesting to her. Find stories she loves, or fact books. Anything that feeds a love of books and reading works. My brother is dyslexic, and learned to read with hi fi catalogues! As far as maths, I have a child in yr 3 who struggles with abstract maths. We use blocks for homework, and songs/ rythmic chanting for times tables. Its not uncommon to find maths in the abstract hard. I do. the worst thing to do is get stressed over it, and approach maths like " work" I know, it used to frustrate me how getting ds to do maths homework was a struggle, and he would shut down, and get blank. Now we approach it like a game. I try to incorporate maths into everday life- shopping, weighing, working out how many more costa Rica players he needs to make s full team etc. Please don't let this worry ruin your summer. Ignore the school books. Go off and do fun stuff. Learning happens when you.are busy doing other things sometimes.

MeMyselfAnd1 Sat 28-Jun-14 13:26:51

My worries about DS's Dyslexia were dismissed by his "outstanding" school for years, which is particularly rubbish as it is the early years when intervention would have been more effective and by the time he was diagnosed many of his problems had become far too resistant to change.

At the end, I decided to pay the full assessment by an educational psychologist myself, it didn't come cheap at £500 at a time we were struggling to keep our heads above the water, but I'm sure it was money well spent as the report came with a lot of advice on how to help him and some simple suggestions that could be easily implemented in the classroom.

But even with a 20 pages long report (and a handy 2 page summary), the school was very reluctant, they decided he couldn't have dyslexia because he was not flipping his letters, but they told me he was lazy, aloof and generally disinterested, that he was not particularly academic and I needed to accept that.

He was often not allowed to go out during playtime because he had not finished his work quickly or because it was not tidy enough. At that time I was doing at least an hour a day in extra tutorials with him and I could see he was trying very hard but the school seemed to think he wasn't. In time he become very frustrated and his behaviour deteriorated, he was bullied and I even heard a teacher say to him "you are a horrible child that nobody wants to play with!" (textual words).

Eventually I decided that I couldn't "fix" my child to make him fit the school and moved him to another one. The other school was more receptive, followed some of the suggestions in the report and, after a year, DS was placed in the gifted and talented group.

He is still incredibly forgetful and easily distracted (and I know that will be with him for life), but he is working at a much higher level, enjoying school and feeling much better about himself. So... What I want to say is that sometimes it's about finding the right way to teach your child rather than trying to force them into the average ways.

An extensive report will provide you with some ideas and references on how to help your child, but will also provide an indication of other issues that may need some attention or acceptance (not everything can be sorted, I'm afraid).

throckenholt Sat 28-Jun-14 13:35:06

FWIW - my DS had similar problems at a similar age (very slow to read) and really didn't get maths and was on the 3 times table for a couple of years.

With a lot of work and a varied approach he finally cracked. Turns out (at almost 13) he is really good at maths (and good at reading although spelling is more of a challenge).

IMO it is all about building confidence - they so easily get the idea that they are rubbish because others around them seem to get it more easily - It is a huge lesson in life that what is important is that you understand it - it doesn't matter what the others are doing - it is what you can do that matters most to you and as long as you are doing a bit more than you could do before then you are doing well. Some things you will find harder, others easier, the harder ones will just need a bit more practice to get comfortable with.

sisterofmercy Sat 28-Jun-14 14:26:55

Your child may just be taking her time to catch up with the others or she may be dyscalculic. She doesn't even need to be dyslexic to have this problem. I am slightly dyscalculic but am fine with words. This means that I understand most number theory when expressed in English but am not good with things like distances, times tables, mental maths, reading digits in the right order etc. Dyscalculia is the poor relation to dyslexia in that people don't seem to give it as much weight or treatment. It can be overcome and I passed my maths GCSE on the second attempt. I may be more reliant on a calculator (and I am pretty good at using Excel because the calculations are almost like words) than most and my boss has to check my finance forms extra carefully.

I do well enough and so will your daughter whatever the reason for her current difficulties.

IfNotNowThenWhen - what you say is interesting. A family member has dyslexia and she absolutely loves reading because she fell in love with stories at an early age. I think the same can be applied to maths. If the process is made enjoyable it gives the child the motivation to carry on if it is difficult.

northlondoncat Sat 28-Jun-14 15:08:45

Most schools like a report so that they can tell you to get a Dyslexia tutor !

You could save yourself £700 and get a dyslexia tutor who should be able to help.

I would let her have fun this summer and try not to spend too long on work.

Swanhildapirouetting Sat 28-Jun-14 20:57:52

I wouldn't stop the days out having fun. I would just try and factor in some maths and English whilst you are out. For example, ask her how much stuff costs and what the change is (number work) Get her to buy things from the shop and see the figures in action. Read signs in museums, and billboards. Directions and maps.

I would speak the SENCO now, as they are generally very busy when the new Reception intake starts, or at least that is my experience of Secondary SENCOs.

Swanhildapirouetting Sat 28-Jun-14 21:07:39

I tried to go straight to the tutor without assessment and what was interesting is that for years I had dismissed the idea of synthetic phonics, as my other children had very much learnt through the real book method. The dyslexia/spld tutor made my child go straight back to phonics, and phonemes blends and digraphs etc, She said that my son had possibly not picked this up in Reception, and we needed to go back to basic principles for decoding.

Jolly Phonics do a good series on synthetic phonics especially the spelling "primer". Might that help you as a guide? I think that for some children the schools skip to the next stage without having reinforced the first step. I have to say that I (an English graduate) had no idea how to turn words into phonemes or blends or digraphs, I just decoded them by magical powers...confused

BrucieTheShark Sat 28-Jun-14 21:18:12

I would change schools, I really would.

Failing that I would become the biggest thorn in their side they could ever have dreamed of until they started giving her some extra support.

'Outstanding' schools like this make my blood boil. And they are not hard to find sadly.

BrucieTheShark Sat 28-Jun-14 21:20:01

Headsprout is apparently great for reading, but no sure if your DD would be too advanced.

Etah Sun 29-Jun-14 09:42:52

Thank you for the support and reassurance.

Her dyslexia report is only 3 pages long, very basic. I don't really think school took it seripusly.
When they finished their exams a couple of weeks ago, I asked to see it or talk to someone about it as Dd was really happy with the results ( her and other kids did the exam separately from the class so I am not sure if they had help or more time to complete ) so the TA said something along the lines : yes, she did very well considering her being her....WTF? I think they have low expectations from her at school and at the same time put ridiculous difficult books for her in the book bag. At the moment she has one small chapter book which is fine, she can read it but get lost in the process so comprehension isn't great. But also she has The Snow Queen.

We read a lot of books together and discuss them. She has a few factual books too. However she rarely pick up the books and spend time reading without me suggesting it.

She has a leap frog thing with some educational games.

Re: music. The only instrument she is intetested is trumpet and sax. We sometimes go to watch orquestras and she is waiting anxiously to start lessons in Y3. If she really gets into it I can source some extra lessons out of school.
She has a proper guitar for children and a fife but isn't interested.

She is on a waiting list for another school but went two positions down and is 4th now.

We have been 'working' some practical maths while out and about yesterday and she did well. I think she has a problem with seeing the numbers.

She is asking to stop ballet. It is a shame because she is really good at it. But she wants gymnastics instead. And singing. hmm.

I will talk to teacher and SENCO and ask where she shoul be, what is lacking in her learning in order for her to be ready for Y3 and start from it. I think they are a bit defensive but I am very shy and self concious of my English accent so this could be clauding my judgement. I will just write staff on a note pad, take a big breath and go.

PastSellByDate Sun 29-Jun-14 11:02:16

Not a teacher/ just a Mum but I thought I would say a few things:

Nothing is wrong with your daughter - she's just wired differently to most 'normals'.

DH is severly dyslexic and MIL (now retired) was a dyslexia/ language therapist (trained through Barts Hospital) and has written text books on the subject. So first off I think you need to understand a few facts:

In MIL's experience dyslexia in girls is frequently the most severe (it has to be inherited from both mother's & father's side of the family - whereas boys can be dyslexic simply from father's side).

You may have to accept that some things will never come (DH cannot divide/ calculate percentages/ etc... - but he has trained his excel spreadsheet to do it for him - because he gets that the average is add up five scores and divide by 5 - he just can't do the maths himself).

You need to be aware that typically a dyslexic works 1/3 harder processing information/ decoding things than us 'normals' - and that makes for a very tired child at the end of the school day (according to MIL DH typically used to come home and instantly go for a nap).

Many dyslexics succeed in the arts/ sports - so I would strongly urge you to allow your daugher to continue to enjoy these outside opportunities - and it will also allow her the opportunity to succeed without struggle in some areas of her life - which is good for confidence. Have a look at this with your daughter:

MIL also firmly believes that puberty often makes a positive difference in dyslexics. We know that the adolescent brain is 'rewired' at this time - and often it is at puberty that 'breakthroughs' with reading/ maths can happen.

Henry Winkler (Probably best known as The Fonz from Happy Days) is a severe dyslexic and more recently he has used his success to raise awareness and write books to encourage/ support young dyslexics. The Hank Zipzer series is highly respected ( and apparently CBBC has made it into a children's show for the channel (

Etah - it sounds like your child is very visual - so use that for simple addition/ subtraction with numbers up to 20 this summer. Try and work out whether there are problems with seeing numbers (they dance) or with flipping numbers (can't distinguish between 2 and 5/ 6 and 9). If numbers/ words/ letters are dancing - that's a classic indicator for some form of visual processing issue (related to dyslexia but slightly different form) and coloured acetates/ lenses can make a huge difference. But be aware that dyslexia is a spectrum disorder (like dyspraxia and other learning disabilities) - so it doesn't present the same for everyone and the strategies to work with/ around your DC's dyslexia for your DC will be unique to them.

My advice is think of the time you have with your daughter this summer as something that can be divided up into smaller units. A portion of your time together should include reading (either her reading to you or you reading to her - maybe from books she'd like to read but can't yet - it will build vocabulary & ideas) and some maths work. As it seems simple calculation are the issue and as you say your child is visual have a look at the various number skills games from Woodland Junior school: - and I'd recommend things like bead numbers: - which really helps explain place value (units/ tens/ hundreds) and how 'base 10' numbering system works (how we write our numbers).

I know it's difficult to see your child struggle with something that other children seem to get with ease - I've been there with an absolutely normal child who at this point couldn't add/ subtract (have posted extensively on it here) - but also remember that you must have a brave face for your DC and reassure them that they'll go on to do well. Their dyslexia may be so severe that they may not ever work out maths or reading - but that doesn't necessarily preclude success.


Badvoc2 Sun 29-Jun-14 11:12:33

Things to look into;
Apples and pears by sound foundation - best resource for dyslexic kids out there IMO - games for training eyes to track and converge. 80% of kids with reading issues have convergence and tracking problems.
Both of these have helped my ds enormously.

LemonSquares Sun 29-Jun-14 11:32:27

If phonics is needed sound foundation is best bet.

If the problem is skipping words and lines - trouble tracking as is it is for my DD1 and also spelling issues then engaging eyes has proven useful - we saw it as a risk as it seemed a bit woo but researching ideas behind it and they seem fine and it seems to have helped DD1 a lot.

Maths - lots of online resources khan academy have basic maths course, ict games , we used maths factor they have summer school at the minute.

Algebra which that type of question is start of - though it covered in math factor basic add subtract lessons in arithmetic school - dragon box just found this that to someone on here and my DC love it.

There are lots of on-line spelling games - I'm going through at the minute trying to see if I can find one s they like that help them as well as doing apple and pears.

I'm dyslexia despite that I did well at school and university - it acting like a drag on my ablities so I've been very keen to help my DC the older two who were showing issues in reception.

However despite them going to a good school I've found the SENCO at the school bloody useless. The eldest in yr4 has started to have help this year - despite every teacher she had bar reception asking her to be assessed and they help they've given seems very poor and it takes her out of lessons putting her behind. I'm really not sure it helps or is worth it at all.

I hope you have better luck but I would look at ways to help her at home as well.

ILoveCoreyHaim Sun 29-Jun-14 12:11:01

I really think my dd would have been better of in the satisfactory school with a better SEN dept where there were loads of kids who were diagnosed than the outstanding school who seemed to play down her issues. I rang the head of the other achool to explain what was going on and she immediately said it didn't sound right and actually rung our school as she knew the new head. New head had no idea of the struggles i had been having with the SEN dept. I discussed moving her from the very small outstanding school to the very big satisfactory with both heads and they both said it might be a shock to her system but new head ensured she was looking into things. Thats when the huge shake up took place, learning aids and books bought and outside help. Sometimes outstanding schools are not the best schools

Badvoc2 Sun 29-Jun-14 12:13:36

I moved my ds from an outstanding school to a satisfactory one in year 2.
Since then the outstanding school is requires improvement and the satisfactory one is now good!
Means nothing of course.
Go to the school, look around, go with your gut instinct.

bronya Sun 29-Jun-14 13:28:39

Is she better with larger print and widely spaced lines when reading? Does reading give her a headache and does she procrastinate rather than do it, look at the pictures a lot, guess words and have to be prompted to sound out? Does she confuse t and l, c and e when sounding out? If any of the above are true, it could be a visual problem. Many dyslexics have a visual issue where they see a halo around words, they blur, move or jump around. This can be almost eliminated by changing the background upon which the text is written. You can do this with printed material by putting a coloured overlay on it, and for writing by using coloured paper. The cheapest way to see if there is possibly something there, is to type some words on a computer screen, then play with changing the background colour.

I know some dyslexics who have this same problem with ANYTHING black on white, including numbers. One girl said the numbers move, reversing themselves or inserting themselves on the line above or below.

It might not be this at all, but it's easy to see if there is perhaps a visual issue and then you can rule it out if there isn't!!

LIZS Sun 29-Jun-14 13:50:49

Also worth buying a pack of multi-coloured clear plastic document wallets and seeing if she finds a particular colour works better with a normal white page. Crude but if it seems to help it would be worth seeing a specialist optician/optometrist.

LemonSquares Sun 29-Jun-14 14:45:14

Coloured overlays - DD1 school gave her these but when I did research into its more normally associated with Irlen Syndrome which is one of those conditions that often is diagnosed alongside dyslexia but dyslexia doesn't have to be there.

I also found that most research into their use was small scale and often found little more than a placebo effect - though it's possible I missed some more recent research I suppose. Not to be knocked but not treating the underlying issue.

My main symptoms, I was properly diagnosed with educational psychologist via a battery of tests, of eyesight issues were inability to do things like where's Wally, word searches and very poor spelling even into adulthood though it has massively improved since early 20’s.

DD1 showed the exact same pattern. DD1 had added issue of a phenomenal visual memory, like me, combined with mixed reading approach from school leading to her learning whole words rather than apply phonics always. I experienced no halo effect or words swimming or moving round and DD1 didn't report any either.

The apple and pears spelling books have word searches and pick letters out and DD1 really struggled with these while DS who we don't think has the eye issues sailed thought them. Such exercises apparently have skills needed when spelling correctly.

The engaging eyes seem to have helped with these skills with DD1- as well as with reading speed which has massively increased.

I've also been told that it is very common for under 7s to confuse letters - though past 7 DD1 wasn't doing that - without having dyslexia. When she read to us - we could see poor tracking so did better with a ruler or an overlay with a black line like a ruler - the black line helping not the colour of overlay.

DS seems have none of the sight issue but has inherited by delay in auditor processing, can’t always hear sounds in words, poor short term memory and the need for a lot of practise of core skills - phonics, maths before they become automatic. DD1 has none of these issues though they both have spelling problems.

Times tables - percy parker cd along with something like mathfactor times tables (part of arithmetic school or bough separately) which gives lots and lots of practise have helped my older two with times tables.

I've found that I need to work out exactly where they are struggling then do research to find out how to help them in that area. Doing a little frequently is surprisingly effective long term.

Etah Sun 29-Jun-14 22:16:15

I am glad I posted. So much good advice and tips. I will start a journal so I can keep track of what we are working with and what I need to do, which websites to go to and etc...

I have considered Maths Factor but wasn't unsure about spending the money and letting her use my precious computer...however, my sister will give me back my spare computer so DD can use it for activities online. My samsung tablet is horrible for this kind of websites, not sure why.

pastsellbydate your post is really interesting but DD doesn't fit whit your MIL's findings. I don't know if she is severely dyslexic, her dad is dyslexic, not sure which degree as he never was formally assessed or got specialised help and I have never had problems with literacy. In fact literacy in my mother tongue, always was my favourite and strongest subject in my home country and in English. I have problems with pronunciation as you expect for an adult learning a second language after their 30s but I consider myself ok at reading and writing and comprehension..not so good at maths though, so I probably would benefit from having MathsFactor tutorials alongside DD.

Also DD is almost never ever 'tired' I pick her up from school she is asking what is next. Hence her doing so many other activities. And we usually have very busy weekends...her energy is very high. Dh sometimes wonder if she has some kind of hyperactivity disorder going on, however, teachers never mentioned problems with her on the carpet, or sitting at the table. In fact she can sit through drama plays and endured 3 hours of ballet (with two short breaks in the middle) the other day. BUT when she was much younger she would never seat to have a story read to her. But she loves it now.

She had some coloured over layers in her book bag but I didn't notice any difference. I think the teachers didn't notice either, because the over layer is not coming home anymore.

So, she doesn't mention the words or numbers 'dancing' but she stills struggle with 'b' and 'd'. Sometimes '6' and '9'. And never confuses '2' and '5' but has been working hard to do the '5' the right way. She is also doing an inverted 'j'.

I tested her today and she does know the alphabet. yey!

I don't know if it is relevant but she almost never puts her shoes in the correct feet. The first attempt is almost always wrong and she doesn't even notice if we don't point out...
She does know left and right though...
And she can't pick up how to do shoes laces but has a good command of fine motor skills.

She is so sporty and athletic that dyspraxia never occurred to me, but she does fall of chairs out of the blue sometimes and has lots of accidents, but I don't know if it is much more than any other child tbh.

ILoveCoreyHaim Mon 30-Jun-14 09:01:13

Op have a look at auditory processing disorder as well
If i remember correctly there are 2 types one which makes them hyper. Im convinced this is what my dd has but the non hyper one. Does she have to be prompted to do things?

ILoveCoreyHaim Mon 30-Jun-14 09:03:57

My dd is the same. She would get to school and have no knickers on. She would have shoes on the wrong feet, she would have to be told to do things 'xxx get off the bus' when the doors open. Its hard as she hasnt been diagnosed but from what i have read i really think this is what my dd has.

bronya Mon 30-Jun-14 09:15:46

LemonSquares - the research basically consisted of giving struggling readers an overlay to see if they could read faster/more accurately. The problem is, that learning to read is a progression - giving someone an overlay won't suddenly mean that they know more sounds, know their irregular words and can read fluently. All it does is make the print clearer, like giving someone ordinary glasses! You then need to put the reading tuition in place. I know several people in real life (incl my dad) for whom a coloured background/overlay makes a real difference. One is my friend's daughter - having the overlay doesn't mean she can read harder books ('cos it's not magic!!) but it does mean she can read smaller print, read with less fatigue, enjoy her books and read words with the sounds she knows, with more confidence. She recently got the associated glasses and it was fascinating to see how they affect her handwriting and spelling - apparently the letters used to jump around as she wrote them, which was why she'd have the correct letters for the spelling, but not always in the right places. Now the words she knows how to spell, have the letters in the right order and again, less eye strain so she can write more.

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