Guest Post by Dr. Eugenia Krimmel Dr. Krimmel is a mother of a son who was diagnosed with both dyslexia and ADHD. Dr. Krimmel has also taught in classrooms for over 23 years.
“Doctor, is it dyslexia? ADHD?” You know as a parent that your child is struggling with reading and you want to know how to help. At the well-baby checkup at age 3, then age 4, then age 7, you ask the same questions to your pediatrician. If your situation was like mine, year after year the doctor would say, “Maybe. It may just be his [my youngest son’s] rate of learning; his own unique cognitive development."
I understand doctors cannot know everything about the brain and learning abilities that exist, but year after year the same response? Well, as many parents who have a gut feeling, we searched for answers. We finally did find one psychologist who could give us a more definitive diagnosis of ADHD and dyslexia after extensive testing. Great, now we know. Then I asked, “What programs are out there to help him learn to read with these gifts and abilities?” (Personally I do not feel ADHD and dyslexia are “disorders”, but rather different abilities that my husband and I do not have. Our son’s energy and keen imagination contribute to his wonderful talents; these do not diminish his abilities).
I just so happens I am an adjunct college professor and was working for our local university as we went through this process. When I mentioned my son’s struggles to one of the early childhood professors who specialized in literacy teaching, she immediately recommended the Orton-Gillingham approach. This professor led us to articles and books on the subject. Then we found a tutor who used the approach. I saw the Reading Horizons program demonstration at an education conference and recognized the Orton-Gillingham approach in the program. I have since recommended it to my son’s school. This is exactly the type of program that would have helped him earlier in his schooling.
Searching for answers? While doctors specialize in the diagnosis phase of getting your child help, university and college professors can inform you of the “remedies”. They are often more in touch with the programs that are effective for teaching and learning reading, writing and arithmetic. Professors’ jobs include teaching, scholarship and service. Many run clinics, academic camps, or provide consulting services. Look for your local university or college to start your search for answers.
Just an aside – my son’s reading was unlocked by the Orton-Gillingham Approach. His state standardized tests results for reading and math went from Below Basic in 3rd grade to Advanced after one year of tutoring in addition to continued special education in school. I do not know if this is a typical result, but I was glad to be sitting down when I saw his reading scores because I was pleasantly surprised –more like happily shocked!