Focused boy learning his lessons

Millie Hull, certified clinician, Online Reading Tutor

Does my child have dyslexia? Many parents come face to face with this question, just as I did. Looking back now, the signs were all there. I had those “mom-gut” feelings that something was wrong when my baby started Kindergarten and things weren’t falling into place. He wrote his name backward and couldn’t decide which hand to use for writing. His teachers said he would “grow out of it” and to “give it time.” So I did.

As he progressed from grade to grade, more warning signs popped up, and my “mom gut” was screaming, but the teachers kept reassuring me that it would be fine. Homework was an everyday nightmare that often ended in tears. By fourth grade, there were more warning signs that I could no longer overlook. My sweet, bright, energetic boy was using phrases like “too stupid,” “not smart” and “dummy” to describe himself. He was withdrawing socially, and the homework nightmare continued.

One day, a friend asked me, “Does your son have dyslexia?” How did I not see it before? It seemed so obvious now. I began researching dyslexia and finally began to understand what my son was going through.

I was disheartened to learn schools don’t test for dyslexia, only for specific learning disorders. I knew my son needed more intervention than the school could give him. So, after taking him for private testing and confirming that he did have dyslexia, I was still at a loss as to how to help him. More research led me to learn about multi-sensory learning and the Orton Gillingham method. We tried some home tutoring programs, then found Online Reading Tutor, which is an Orton Gillingham-based program specifically designed for dyslexic readers. It has changed my son’s life for the better. He has made incredible progress, advancing three grade levels in reading, and, more importantly, it has improved his confidence. Instead of negative self-talk, we talk about how dyslexia makes him unique. Through this experience, I have become passionate about helping other families who struggle with dyslexia. There is help for kids who struggle with dyslexia. Knowing the signs is an important first step.

Here are a few warning signs of dyslexia:

  • Letter or number reversals continuing past first grade
  • Slow, choppy, inaccurate reading, guesses based on shape or context, skips or misreads prepositions (at, of)
  • Inability to sound out unknown words
  • Terrible spelling
  • Can’t remember sight words (they, were, does) or homonyms (their, they’re and there)
  • Difficulty telling time on analog clocks
  • Difficulty memorizing multiplication tables