Is it Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia or Right-Brain Learners? The answer changes everything
Jennifer’s mom tried for two years to get her child assessed for learning disabilities. Her daughter had been struggling since Kindergarten, but the school has said Jennifer was in Response to Intervention and to give them a chance. By the beginning of second grade mom had had it — when she read one of our postings on the RTI Trap.
After getting an IEP, Individualized Education Plan, mom was relaxed. She was not prepared for the 3rd Grade Retention challenge. Jennifer was held back in 3rd grade.
Mom then took Jennifer for a psycho-educational test, and the diagnosis was Dyslexia and ADHD. Jennifer then went through a year of a phonics-based dyslexia treatment – which improved Jennifer’s reading fluency, how well she read out loud, but Jennifer’s reading comprehension was 2 years below grade level.
Then the bottom fell out. With the new Common Core or Florida State Standards, reading comprehension levels dropped by 1.5 to 2 grade levels.
When we did a Reading Plus(R) assessment it showed that Jennifer’s reading comprehension level was now 3 years below grade level.
This is not unusual. Today, there are more smart students from excellent families that are 2, 3 and even 4 or 5 years below grade level. For the less fortunate students, the problems are even greater.
Mom asked us if her daughter had learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD or what was it.
Does your child remember details from places visited, even from years ago?
Does your child learn best when your child sees and experiences information?
Mom answered, absolutely, but what does it mean.
It tends to mean that Jennifer was a right-brain learner who probably had some combination of the following challenges:
– Difficulty understanding frequently used words – not understanding small words like what, but, if, and etc.
– Difficulty remembering words your child has seen and not mastered
– Difficulty paying attention to that which is boring
– Skipping words and lines when reading
– Self-esteem and self-advocacy challenges
Jennifer was the classic right-brain learner who had attention, eye-teaming and self-esteem challenges
Mom asked, “Does Jennifer have learning disabilities, dyslexia or is she a right-brain learner?
The answer was yes.
The challenge is that learning disabilities are often dealt with by schools, and too often the gains are not adequate to grow a year at a time and very rarely does it get the child back to grade level.
The dyslexia treatment that is recommended for most dyslexic children are great if focused the problem is phonics.
But if the problems are what most right-brain learners have challenges with (e.g. frequently used word vocabulary, word recognition, eye-teaming and attention challenges, and self-esteem issues, then you want to address these first and then address phonics – which is critical, but may not be the top priority
Mom wanted to know it is always possible for a student like Jennifer to get back to grade level. Always no, but often it is — but it will only happen if you invest in the right program and do the right follow-up
Mom added another question — it sounds like Success in Month Not Years takes the right investment, taking the right actions to do the follow-up well, and collaborating with teachers, schools and outside professionals
Dyslexia or right-brain learners — consider both
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