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Just need some bolstering: very dyslexic son

(28 Posts)
Bambismum Fri 17-Mar-17 13:57:58

Just had parents evening last night. I did what I always did - allowed myself to go in with some tinge of optimism. But then I started to leaf through his books and just felt that familiar churning anxiety. Followed by a session with his teacher in which he told us how very far behind he is, as is, basically, obvious by looking at his work. He's 8, in Year 4, and probably has the writing that you'd expect of a Year 1, very scrawly, incomprehensible, spelling a jumble, and no capitals/full stops etc. Not much progress.

The trouble is, we feel like we've thrown as much as we can at it for nearly 2 years now. He goes to see a private dyslexia tutor once a week, which has been bumped up to twice this term. My husband does lots of maths with him at night, and I do spellings/reading etc. which adds up to about an hour an evening which is all we/he can take. We really, really hoped all this would help him progress, but it doesn't look like it. I came home and felt so sick I couldn't eat.

I don't know quite why I'm posting here. I think I'm looking for a fresh perspective, I suppose. I feel we've got tired and bogged down and things aren't working. He is a lovely, lovely boy, and this is getting in the way of me enjoying and appreciating that.

Thank you.

TalkingofMichaelAngel0 Fri 17-Mar-17 13:59:31

How are they dealing woth the dyslexia at school? What are their support strategies.

Bambismum Fri 17-Mar-17 14:16:01

They take him out in small groups for extra handwriting and spelling a couple of times a week. Twice a week they do touch type (although this involves a lot of mucking about and he doesn't seem to have learned anything on this). He sits at the front.

Nothing seems to make a big deal of difference, which I suppose was always my hope and it's kind of painful to accept that nothing may make a big difference. But maybe that's where we're at. He is a bright, personable, but dreamy child.

fatbottomgirl67 Fri 17-Mar-17 14:18:18

Have the school done an assessment and does he have an I e p in place ? My son was in exactly this place and we struggled to get the help at first but the school did eventually give him 1 to 1 with a dyslexic specialist. He suddenly started to read at age 8 and that stopped being a problem. However spelling and handwriting continue to be an issue. The biggest thing we could do for him was try to keep his self esteem in tact which has never been easy. Try to find something he is good at and enjoys be it cricket, cubs , or whatever. He will notice that he can't keep pace with the others but reasure him that he's just as bright but his brain works in a different way. Mine's now year 8 and has all but given up writing in favour of a lap top. School have really encouraged this as he can use it for gcse's instead if a scribe. Keep pushing the school and hope you get some help

Bambismum Fri 17-Mar-17 14:24:45

We had an educational psychologist private dyslexia assessment at the start of Year 3. I've asked for an IEP but they say he does not qualify as he is not severe enough. It is a decent state school, well run generally, but TBH they are not very good about SEN and this is acknowledged by all the parents with affected kids. We've kind of given up pushing for more.

Thank you so much Fatbottom (!). I feel better already just hearing someone further along and it's not all bad. Does your son feel okay where he is at, and is he able to "keep up" using his laptop?

My big fear is secondary at this point. I just want to get him to the point where he can cope with the amount of written work, but that point seems very far off right now.

wobblywonderwoman Fri 17-Mar-17 14:27:06

Could you look into other schools op?

HumphreyCobblers Fri 17-Mar-17 14:30:15

I would push the typing at home, concentrate on that over the summer perhaps? It would help.

The school should be giving him an IEP. Not bad enough??! He has a diagnosis. That should be enough.

The school should be making sure he never has to copy from the board, giving him help with instructions if he has working memory issues, extra time/writing frames etc to support him rather than leaving him to flounder - do they do anything?

I am training to be a specialist teacher, so not an expert, but the school do sound as if they are letting your son down. He should have an IEP (or whatever they have in England now, the terminology has changed and I am in Wales).

I also sympathise, I know that 'sick' feeling of worry as my son has SN.

Badders123 Fri 17-Mar-17 14:46:59

I would suggest tackling the root cause of his dyslexia -
Goggle retained reflex therapy and the tinsley house support thread here on mn
Good luck
And don't despair, it's not too late
My eldest was in year 4 when we stared the above and he is doing really well now in year 9 👍

Msqueen33 Fri 17-Mar-17 14:56:04

I have two kids with autism so not dyslexia. But my mum has a friend with three boys all of whom had dyslexia the eldest very very severe and they've been success. One a qualified electrician, the other a chef and one is a building manager. So there is hope.

Msqueen33 Fri 17-Mar-17 14:56:40

I should also add I think the worst part for any kid with additional needs is the school system. It's a one size is suppose to fit all and it really doesn't.

mummabearfoyrbabybears Fri 17-Mar-17 16:17:21

My daughter is severely dyslexic. It manifests itself as poor language orally and written and extremely poor reading skills. It also affects her short term memory. When she was younger especially she could not follow a long list of instructions and a non-specific instruction (such as 'get ready for school') left her baffled. We combatted that with 'go and take your PJs off and bring mummy your school clothes' then when she's done that I'd ask her item by item to put them on then she'd be give another two specific instruction. Even as a teenager now she doesn't cope with change well or meeting new people. Painfully shy and needs routine. It does sound like your lad may be over loaded with things. Maybe try taking a step back, making everything more routine and a clear break between things. Does he have a specific colour paper he finds easier to write on and Perspex over lays? Does he also have a hobby that he is good at. Something that is easy for him. That's so important if he's spending so much time at school, then with his dad and then with private tutors doing something he really struggles with then he needs some respite from that. My daughter has a horse. It's pure therapy for her and, when she was younger went from reception age reading level to yr 4 reading level in roughly 6 months because of the confidence boost it gave her. She was finally good at something.

EwanWhosearmy Fri 17-Mar-17 16:23:22

We were in your position last year. Went to parents evening; all work on the wall and we could see that DD's writing looked like that of a much younger child.

Just been to parents evening for Y5. DD started the year on 3E for maths, reading and writing. She has gone up 1 point for reading, 6 for writing, and 2 for maths. Teacher feels she'll be only a little behind by EOY (5D).

Perhaps with our sort of DC they just click later on? (TBH I'd ditch the maths and spellings at home too. School and a tutor is enough)

fatbottomgirl67 Fri 17-Mar-17 18:06:45

I was really worried for him starting secondary school. He was streamed straight away from his sats results and cat tests. Biggest fear was him been stuck in classes with kids who didn't want to learn and that rubbing off on him but he's climbed up a set in all subjects and is getting some support from the Sen .
He has done a touch typing course. He did one at primary with little success but has just done another one and has progressed well. He seems to keep up well in lessons. The science dept have been great and email him all the lessons ahead of time. Really useful as he can read through later if he's unsure of anything. Push as much as you can for school support. He will need extra time in his sats when he get to year 6. Our primary also wrote a report for the Sen at secondary so support was on going. Can't stress enough about the self esteem thing. Ds burst into tears last year when dd1 got her GCSE results. Just said he was so stupid head never pass anything. ( she got10 a* which to him seems totally unattainable ) we just have to try to keep him believing he can do it which is not always easy

toomuchtvandsocialmedia Fri 17-Mar-17 18:15:34

I would check that your Dyslexia tutor has an up to date Practising Certificate - knowledge about dyslexia has moved on significantly in recent years and I would want to be certain that evidenced based methods are being used. Have you also had DS tested for visual stress? It can co-occurs with dyslexia and can make reading print very difficult.

This is a useful document to help you understand the SEND Code of Practice 2014 and what support your DspS should receive in school.

childmaintenanceserviceinquiry Fri 17-Mar-17 18:26:21

too - do you have any more information about the evidenced based methods?

gunnergirl Fri 17-Mar-17 18:34:50

has ur son been given the colour overlays my son age 9 yr 5 is dyslexic and has had some great help from his school I can't believe myself his now reading fluently and since his been given special handwriting pens his literacy has improved I know it's disheartening but believe me when I say it will click one day and then he will come on in leaps and bounds patience is the key

Bambismum Fri 17-Mar-17 18:55:37

Thank you everyone very sincerely. I just feel so much better to have you listen and reply, even though I don't know you I feel your kindness. Really.

I think I do need to stop just "pilling on" stuff. As you say, he is struggling and just more work isn't really fair. I think I probably have to be more strategic about allowing him to enjoy life (he does a bit by the way! everything that isn't work is pure joy for him). It's so hard to know though which of such a bewildering range of interventions is the one to focus on.

Chillywhippet Fri 17-Mar-17 20:19:45

Bambismum it is a horrible feeling isn't it? I cried all the way through a documentary about dyslexia by the Eastenders actor Kara Tointon. She visited a specialist, independent school and it was s different to my kid's experiences.
4DC here all dyslexic.
Good advice from PP above re not copying from board and also not being asked to read aloud in school.
We found that after a certain amount of support at home any further effort was either a waste of time/money or counterproductive until and unless they were ready. We just tried to spot developmental moves forward and move with it.

Remember that school will be more tiring for him due to the extra effort he has to make with processing etc so he will need a break from it.

You are obviously very caring parents but however hard you try you cannot make him not dyslexic. It isn't a case of him catching up. He will be literate but he is going to take a slower and different route.

We tried to focus on self esteem and education in the broader sense. Of course you need to read and write but a good education is so much broader than that.

We did the following:

Enjoyed books together - lots of bedtime and rainy day reading out loud (me reading), lots of audiobooks,

Visual stuff - art and craft at home, children's theatre, musicals, dance

Cooking together

Museums/galleries - great activities for kids. There are often trails and worksheets but we put no pressure on to write or read

Find something they are good at - e.g. music, kids choir, brass band, folk group (no need to read music), mine play strings in orchestra and have a very good ear which gets them through

Sport - team sports are great if they like them but I'd not martial arts, kick boxing, trampolining, parcor/free running, kayaking club with a parent

Talk about whatever they a interested in, watch stuff together, talk about whatever comes up in current affairs etc

Let them read anything - survival guides, encyclopaedia of butterflies, Beano, non fiction,

We gave up on times tables. A friend has dyslexic children and they spend every summer trying to learn them. They still don't know them.

Our kids are at uni, doing an apprenticeship, doing GCSE's etc. We have found that the "nicer" the primary school the fewer strategies they had to help. One school gave the same spellings as his bright friends because they didn't want to make him feel different. The same teacher said, "it's funny that his vocabulary and general knowledge are really good but reading and spelling are poor." The head teacher looked embarrassed and said, "um that is dyslexia."

My DSs current school has a special needs unit and a much higher free school meals rate than his last one and they take a well behaved, enthusiastic boy with weak spelling and times tables in their stride.

Sorry that is so long grin

Chillywhippet Fri 17-Mar-17 20:23:13

Sorry I have just read my list of suggestions back and I'm sure you do most it not all of them with him already so I'm not trying to tell you how to be a parent but rather to enjoy stuff for the joy of learning or just doing it

toomuchtvandsocialmedia Fri 17-Mar-17 20:51:50

chilli some of your post suggests that dyslexic pupils should be given less academically taxing work - this really is not the case. I work with teenagers with dyslexia within a school. Many of these teenagers have high cognitive ability and, with appropriate teaching and support, go on to get fantastic exam results including some who go on to Oxbridge.

The problem is that in many schools, pupils do not get early intervention and the intervention they do receive is poor. Teacher training does not include how to support children with dyslexia effectively in the classroom and there is confusion and misinformation about the underlying problems that children with dyslexia have. Giving a coloured overlay to a child who has a phonological deficit and poor working memory will not help that child; however, it could make a huge difference to a child with visual stress.

Chillywhippet Fri 17-Mar-17 21:29:40

toomuch oh dear, not my intention at all. I just think an obsession with spelling for example can detract from providing a stimulating and challenging education in a wider sense. I think it's important that they are academically stretched.

I think it's important that kids are supported and helped to learn strategies to manage their very real difficulties so they can develop their real talents. As you know it has to be the right support, not just learning things by rote.

I agree that that support and knowledge in schools is variable. My kids have suffered from not being bad enough. It's been made worse by the way poor spelling in now more heavily penalised in exams (thanks Michael Gove) and exam boards are requiring higher levels of need and evidence for access arrangements.
Sorry OP a long way from an 8 year old

weasle Sun 19-Mar-17 19:59:53

I have a year 4 DS who is dyslexic. He has his formal educ psych assessment next week but I'll eat my hat if he's not diagnosed.
I feel just like you OP. Another weekend here of stress about homework and despairing that if he's struggling so much now, what does the future hold. My younger DS is outperforming him at school which certainly doesn't help.

He does lots of sport which he loves, but that leaves little time to get homework done as he's so slow doing it (as it's so hard for him). DH and I work long hours which leaves little time in the week to help, or even see him!

I always found school easy and have never failed an exam even post grad so I find it really hard to know how to help him. I've always been hopeless at spelling though, but have learnt tricks to help.

I was thinking of getting a dyslexic tutor but it doesn't sound like it's helping much OP?

toomuchtvandsocialmedia Sun 19-Mar-17 20:28:03

weasle a properly qualified tutor can make huge difference. As my PP says many of the pupils I work with get fantastic results at GCSE and A level because they have had early intervention which gave them strategies (and the confidence) to cope with and work around the difficulties they face.

Bambismum Sun 19-Mar-17 22:22:19

Weasle, all I can say is that sounds very familiar. I fear the secondary onslaught - we are hardly hanging on by our fingernails to the core skills in primary school. I would say his dyslexia tutor HAS helped him, yes. Would definitely encourage you to do that. But perhaps not performed miracles.

Bambismum Sun 19-Mar-17 22:24:53

Chillywhippet, not at all, I appreciate you taking time to come and advise. All good ideas and I like your perspective. Thank you.

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