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Argh!! If DS isn't dyslexic, why the **** can't he read???

(87 Posts)
MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 18:49:03

Background: DS (aged nearly 8, in Y3) has always struggled with literacy. Slow, halting reading; stumbling over words; not recognising basic words; reverses letters and numbers all the time; goes to pieces in any sort of test situation such as SATS. We had some private assessments done a year ago which showed that there was an issue with the ways sees/processes information (problems with visual processing). This is particularly evident when he has to do a written comprehension exercise: he just goes to pieces. Can't comprehend how to interpret what's on the page and answer questions about it. He can't read the questions on his own, ever. His spelling is atrocious. He is not, and never has been, remotely interested in trying to read anything by himself - e.g. when we are out and about he will not try to read road signs, shop signs etc, and if he is playing a computer game he won't even try to read the instructions (unless they are simple words such as "Enter," "Stop" etc). Whenever homework is mentioned he has a complete meltdown.

He is a bright boy (I know, everyone says this about their child, but his assessment proved it! and he is engaged with what he's learning, and has a good imagination, and excels at maths - he recently got over 120 on whatever those tests are that kids take every so often, but that's because the teacher was allowed to read the questions out. On the literacy tests, when he had to read the questions himself, he scored in the 90s).

In his Y2 SATs he only achieved level 1c for literacy - and even that surprised me, given how poor his reading is.

Until a month ago he attended a small private school which had zero SEN provision. We have finally got him into a fantastic state junior school and I've had a chat with the SENCO who is a marvellous man smile. He rang me today to say that they have completed their initial in-school assessments of DS and he scores ABOVE AVERAGE on everything. I was completely flabergasted. What this means is that DS does not even qualify for additional one-to-one reading in school, and yet HE CANNOT READ!! He really, really can't. His reading is so slow, halting and painstaking that it is painful to listen to. His eyesight isn't great but it is fine with glasses (he has been seen by the optician and eye specialist and there is no problem there). Whenever any of his friends come round to play they can read EVERYTHING - all the homework instructions, words on the computer screen, EVERYTHING - wherease DS struggles to read level 6 books in the Ginn 360 series. (Our DD, who is in Reception, is on level 4 - she's 3 years younger than him - I'm worried that this could become a problem for him).

So - why can't he read?! Is he just lazy? Does he just not understand WHY he needs to be able to read? What do I need to ask for? How to I get him the help he needs when he apparently doesn't qualify for it? The SENCO said that they will wait for the results of the Y3 SATS (which he's taking next week) and then see what to do after that, but as things currently stand DS does not qualify for any additional help with anything. I have insisted on getting referred to whichever NHS service it is that assesses children for learning disabilities (is that the right term? and sorry I don't know exactly who we've been referred to, I find it all very confusing) so we are waiting to hear back about an appointment, although apparently the waiting list is very long.

Argh!! Four frustrating years since DS started school and he still can't read or write properly. I just don't get it, and I don't know how to help him. I'm crying tears of frustration as I type this. Could the fact that we didn't find out about his poor eyesight (we'd missed the sight test in Reception due to moving house and moving schools) until Y2 be significant?

Please help - what do we do?

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 18:50:16

Sorry, he got a 1a in his Y2 SATS - i.e. one sub-level below Level 2. He has a June birthday if that makes any difference ...?

WetAugust Tue 22-May-12 18:54:14

he scores ABOVE AVERAGE on everything. I was completely flabergasted. What this means is that DS does not even qualify for additional one-to-one reading in school, and yet HE CANNOT READ!!

That's where you are very wrong indeed.

Some children require help even if they are top of the class in everything. Academic achievement doesn't rule out the fact that he may have SENs.


The school are lying about his reading ability. That's not as tupid as you think. You'll learn that, unbelievable as it may seem, schools do lie.

A good start would be to tell the SENCo that you want him assessed by the Educational Psychologist and if SENCO will not call him in you are perfectly entitled to conatct the Ed Pysch and self-refer.

TBH - you're too trusting and believing in school. This has gone on long enough. You need to take action

madwomanintheattic Tue 22-May-12 19:02:05

Did you ask directly about his reading assessment?

It would be a bit weird for him to be reading fluently at school when tested, but not at all at home?

What did the senco say about his reading assessment?

I have to say though - I might be inclined to check what tests he has been given. The 120 score and the 90 score are both absolutely fine, if it's the test where 100 is the average... And a 90 would not entitle him to any extra help because he doesn't need it. A nearly 8yo boy avoiding homework isn't so unusual either...

I would definitely dig around a lot more to see what tests he has taken and his actual scores.

zzzzz Tue 22-May-12 19:03:22

Has he been assessed for coloured lenses or tried coloured overlays?
I assume you read with him every night, does he focus on the words or is concentration a problem?
Does he "listen" to what he is reading?
Does he find any books interesting? (for example if you read to him does he like it or lose interest)
He sounds like a really bright little lad, so if he does have an educational difficulty he will probably with the correct support do extremely well.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 22-May-12 19:11:31

See a behavioural optometrist? I believe that normal opticians, ophthalmologists etc don't pick up some vision difficulties.

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 19:51:18

WetAugust (love your name!) - what I meant was that the SENCO told me that DS does not qualify for additional help.

What is so frustrating is that DS has been at 3 primary schools now (!) and they ALL say that he doesn't have a SEN .... the fact that he cannot read fluently doesn't seem to bother them!! Two state schools (both "outstanding") and one private.

If DS read the following sentence "The dog jumped over the box and then he sat down" out loud, he would read it like this:

"The dog jelly er j j er jumped over a no sorry I mean the box and then he saw no sat dog down" and it would take about 2 minutes.

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 19:52:03

I will keep pushing, will find out about educational psychologist and behavioural optometrist - how do you find one?

bizzey Tue 22-May-12 19:52:19

Ellen...what is a behavioral optometrist ???

OP sorry to hyjack but my ds seems to have similar problems

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 22-May-12 19:55:21

If you get hold of IndigoBell, she has a link to some BOs, but I believe she prefers a chap (not a BO) who works at Tinsley House. You would need to research it and find out about costs, though I believe some BOs work in the NHS, but it's a postcode lottery.

bizzey Tue 22-May-12 19:56:43

Thanks ellen

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 22-May-12 19:57:20

Link to British Association of Behavioural Optometrists.

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 20:06:23

I'm going to have a meeting with the SENCO 2 weeks after half-term so I will have a look at all DS' test scores etc then.

What I don't understand is that, if he really is average (or above average), how come the bar is set so bloody low?!

Yes, I do think the school may have glossed over a couple of things due to budget cuts etc. If DS is keeping up with all his classwork despite being unable to read properly, he must be a bright child and surely he deserves help?!

DH and I have just had a quick chat and have agreed to re-hire the literacy tutor that DS was seeing once a week before he moved schools a month ago. She does one-on-one reading with him and is a dyslexia specialist.

To answer other questions: no, we don't get DS to read to us any more. He hates it so much that it is counter-productive and unpleasant for everyone (I cannot begin to describe how much he hates it. He says the words move around the page - i.e. a classic symptom of dyslexia). We stopped a couple of months ago for this reason. Previously he read to us - or to his teacher - every single day. However, I read to him every night and he loves it. We're currently reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He adores being read to. (Most of his friends are reading the same books by themselves). His concentration is fantastic when I am reading to him, but if he has to read or do a piece of written work himself he gets up, wanders around, fidgets, distracts himself .....

He gets 2 pieces of homework plus one set of spellings each week and we do ensure that these get done. I am so sick of the battles. Believe me, we have tried every approach there is.

We have tried coloured overlays with our optician but it didn't seem to help. Our optician knows someone who will do a proper assessment (privately of course) which I suppose we shall have to investigate if the SATS don't flag anything up.

If DS performs true to past form he will completely fall apart in the SATS so at least the school will be able to see that there is a problem. Since starting at the new school a month ago he has consistently been getting 8 out of 10 for his spellings etc and doing really well, and I am starting to wonder if it is a confidence thing. Maybe he has more confidence now he's at a bigger school, and there is less focus on him, and so he is more relaxed and "blending in" more??

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 20:07:18

Sorry, x-posted.

Thanks everyone for your advice.

Ineedalife Tue 22-May-12 20:14:44

Both my Dd's have benefitted from coloured lenses in their glasses.

In y3 Dd2's reading was very hit and miss. She has trouble with tracking.

Dd3 has visual perception issues and ASD she loves her coloured lenses and is wearing them all the time at the moment, they are helping with her depth perception and she has almost stopped walking into things.

Would definitely agree with seeing a BO, if you are anywhere the midlands Aston university test people at a much lower cost, almost free if on benefits. Google Aston uni visual sciences.

Good lucksmile

zzzzz Tue 22-May-12 20:45:14

My ds2 has coloured lenses they have been brilliant. We took him to be privately assessed before Easter and he is finally making progress.

Your sons reading sounds very like his, and certainly the text swimming and jiggling can be helped enormously by coloured filters. The glasses cost £130 and the test £40, obviously you only get the glasses if you need them so realistically you are only committing to the test fee. Ds's jaw literally dropped when they hit the right colour, he suddenly sat up and said "how do you do that?" grin

I think if reading has become a torture you are right to give it a break. I have got round that one with ds1 (who has a language disorder that means many of the reading books are impossible for him to understand so he is just decoding) by writing him a note when he comes home from school n order for him to find his snack. So day one note said "look in the cupboard next to the fridge" (where I had hidden a slice of cake) day two instead of the cake there was another note saying "look on top of the piano" and so on grin

It might be interesting to assess his language ability too as sometimes that can impact literacy.

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 20:47:02

We're in Bournemouth! I will Google though smile

I'm going to get a load of ORT / Ginn 360 books tomorrow and make sure that DS reads to us several times each week. At his new school the children select their own reading books without supervision. He has come home with some instruction-type manual thingy and can only read about 1 word in 10..... that was the point at which we gave up!

We are going to make an appointment with the SENCO to go through the SATS results and all other test results i.e. actually look at everything, all the scores etc. I asked DS about his tests and he said that they were all done on a computer, which means the teachers probably have no idea how faltering / hesitant he is when he reads out loud. Gah!

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 20:48:44

That's interesting zzzzz re language ability.

Niceweather Tue 22-May-12 20:48:57

You could also try the Dyslexic Research Trust in Reading, they are a charity and supply tinted glasses for a donation.

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 20:51:00

Oh, and WetAugust - I see why you might think that but we are definitely not too trusting in the school! DH is a teacher and he knows all their tricks wink. We have moved DS to this school specifically because it is so good with SEN. He has only been there for 4 weeks and we are definitely pushing things forward.

zzzzz Tue 22-May-12 21:09:25

You can self refer to SALT, just phone your GP and ask for the number. You could also get hold of a book called "Language for thinking" (library or school as it is pricey) and run through the assessment in it. It is a bit like a verbal version of comprehension test, score it and see if you think that is part of the problem.

WetAugust Tue 22-May-12 21:37:50

Glad to hear you have some inside knowledge on the dirty tricks grin

Sorry - I wasn't being critical, it;s just that many posters think everything school tells them is gospel - until they start to wise up grin

They do dyslexia testing in Bath too.

Best wishes

Gillg57 Tue 22-May-12 21:59:02

Hi Mrs McEnroe,
Just to lighten the mood a little my son also had problems reading when in primary school. He was a little younger than yours when it first came to light. He did well in reception class and Year 1 but by year 2 he was struggling. He came up with his own excuse that he couldn't see the words properly. To cut a long story short after many tests a very clever optometrist spotted he was (forgive the pun) pulling the wool over our eyes and could see fine when it suited him. Then a very experienced teacher worked out that he had decided to take a short cut to reading early on and just remember complete words as they came up. This meant that by year 2 he had run out of memory and had forgotten how to piece new words together. Problem solved! The moral of the tale, and I accept this may not be the case with your young man, is that little boys can be very devious when they want smile

MrsMcEnroe Tue 22-May-12 22:15:31

Hi Gillg, your DS will go far! Mine is definitely not doing it on purpose though - he was waaaaay behind right from the start, could hardly sound out c-a-t at the end of Reception sad. He's definitely not putting it on.

IndigoBell Tue 22-May-12 22:27:55

What makes you think he doesn't have dyslexia?

He has dyslexia - by the defn of dyslexia (unable to learn to read and / or spell despite adequate tuition)

Dyslexia is caused by up to 5 underlying problems.

* vision
* auditory
* neuro-development
* dietary
* vitamin / mineral deficiencies.

It's taken us 2 years to work through all these problems with DD, and we're not finished yet - but we're finally starting to get close.

But it has taken about 3 different goes at each of those 5 things to get there.

I've written more about it here

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