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To Test or Not to Test

When I found out my son had dyslexia, I had no clue what to do and I couldn’t find very much information about it. Everyone I asked had no idea about dyslexia including my sons pediatrician. But I continued to dig for information. One of the questions I had was how do I go about getting him tested to find out for sure that it’s dyslexia. Now ten years later, I have found many resources that test for dyslexia and I would like to share them with you too.

First the least expensive way is to buy the app Neurolearning. I have talked about this app before on my blog and you can find out more detailed information about it at neurolearning.com. I wish this app would have been around years ago but is fairly new. Currently it costs $50 for 3 different tests. Once your child has finished the test, you will be given a 20 page report about their strengths and weaknesses. It takes about 45 minutes and it tests from age 7 – adults.

Another way to get testing done is through a nonprofit center. I had my son tested early on through a nonprofit center. It cost between $200-$300 and the testing lasted all day. It did not give me an official diagnosis of dyslexia but it did give me a list of strengths and weaknesses which was very helpful. I did ask the tester if she though he was dyslexic and she said she though he was.

You can have testing done through a speech language pathologist. At the time, I did not know any SLPs near me. Most SLPs can not give an official diagnosis of dyslexia but there are a few that can. So if you go this route you will want to ask directly if they can. Sometimes insurance will pay a portion of dyslexia testing and many SLPs do work with insurance so you would need to ask about that too.

You can also have testing done through a Barton Tester. I personally do not do testing even though I am a Certified Barton Tutor. Unfortunately I do not have the time available that it takes to do the testing because it can be a very long process.

I usually recommend this option the most. Some universities do testing like Eastern Michigan University. Their students do the testing but are overseen by their professors. The cost can be minimal ($200 for Eastern) and you get at least a 20 page print off of the evaluations that they do. The testing can take several days and they can tests for dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. The bonus is they also can give an official diagnosis unlike some of the other options. The disadvantage of going this route is that there can be a very long waiting list. Also know that not all universities know how to test for these learning disabilities. I took my son to a local university that was closer to us and they had no idea what they were doing. I finally found out at the end that they didn’t even use the correct tests that are used for testing for dyslexia.

For more information on testing you can visit https://www.dys-add.com/getHelp.html#anchorTestingWhich.

Audiobooks Part 2

There are many ways for kids to listen to audiobooks. Last time I talked about how to set up your iPhone or iPad to read a book to you.

Another way to listen to audiobooks is to join Learning Ally or Bookshare. In order to get books from Learning Ally and/or Bookshare, you will need to fill out paperwork that states your child has a print disability. Learning Ally does have human readers that read the book whereas Bookshare has a digital voice.

There are several others programs that you can try for audiobooks like Hoopla, Audible, Overdrive, Libby, and Epic. I personally love Hoopla and it’s free through my local library. I have used Audible and Overdrive too. Audible does have a monthly membership fee but Overdrive is free through my local library.

As you can see there are many different options for Audiobooks. It really depends on if you want to pay a membership fee and what kind of books you enjoy (human or digital voice).

Audiobooks- Is it cheating? Part 1

Many people think that audiobooks are a way to cheat if a child is not reading or not on grade level for reading. But in fact it is not. This article states the research behind what happens in the brain when listening to audiobooks. https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/audiobooks-or-reading-to-our-brains-it-doesnt-matter?fbclid=IwAR1ULtfTrsa_DmeKwKjohUSZIb6oNa0bI9C-gPx6gveg86JXzbu8miUctQE

Audiobooks are so very important for a dyslexic child. They help build vocabulary, comprehension and engages the child’s imagination.

There are many different ways you can get audiobooks. First you can set up your Apple device to read what is on your screen including books, PDFs, and websites. Under Settings, click on Accessibility, and then Spoken Content. Turn on Speak Selection and Speak Screen. Now when you highlight a selection of words a menu with appear to copy, paste, etc. One of the items that will appear is Speak. If you click on Speak, the highlighted content will be read to you. If you want the whole page read to you, brush your 2 fingers down the front of your screen and a menu will pop up which allows you to pause, fast forward, rewind, and speed up or slow down the voice. It will automatically start reading the page too.

New Assessment App

Last year I was able to beta test an app that Dr. Brock Eide developed for screening for dyslexia. You can now purchase it for iOS. For $50 you will get 3 assessments to use which is very handy especially if you have several children that struggle. It tests several different areas and provides you with a 20 page printout after the assessment is finished. It’s very easy to use and takes around 45 minutes or so to take. The assessment is only available to be used with ages 7 – adult. If you would like to learning more go to neurolearning.com.

Certification

Many people ask why certification matters. They think they can save money tutoring with someone that is not certified. But that thought is wrong. Many times you spend so much more time and money with a tutor that has no oversight. Certified tutors not only spend hours training with the program developer but must follow certain rules and guidelines to maintain their certification. Unfortunately non certified tutors do not.

FIVE THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A TUTOR:

When your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, or he has extra difficulty with reading and spelling, even without a diagnosis, there are key things to look for in a tutor, when you are seeking help.

1. Look for an Orton-Gillingham-based intervention. If your child has received a diagnosis of dyslexia, or she has signs of dyslexia, it is vital that you select a tutor who is highly trained, certified in and uses research-based, Orton-Gillingham influenced intervention.There are a number of highly respected and effective Orton-Gillingham based approaches and programs. If a tutor or service does not use an Orton Gillingham based approach, do not consider them, if your child has been diagnosed or you strongly suspect dyslexia.

2. Look for Tutor Certification. The prospective tutor who will work with your child should be highly trained and most importantly, certified in an Orton-Gillingham based approach or system. Different programs or organizations will have different methods of certifying providers, but when a tutor is certified in the method that he is working in, that is key for providing effective intervention. Always ask a tutor if she is certified. If so, what programs or by what organization and what process was required to earn the certification.

3. Look for Experience. It’s also wise to ask how much training a tutor has had. If a prospective tutor has just a few weeks or months of actual training, no on-going supervision by the trainer and less than two years experience specifically using an Orton-Gillingham approach, be cautious. Some newer tutors may offer a discounted rate to tutor your child and to gain experience, which can be an option if finances are tight.

4. One-on-One Tutoring is best. One-on-one tutoring for a minimum of two, 1-hour sessions a week is consistently the benchmark recommendation for dyslexia intervention in a private setting. Group tutoring is most often done in school classroom settings, where it is easier to create effective groupings. If groups are considered, the group size should not exceed recommendations of specific programs. Grouping requires skilled decision making, because in order to effectively teach each child, the group can only move as fast as the child who needs the most practice. If there are absences, a child will miss instruction, or the tutor will have to postpone or review material. If a child can move faster, her progress may be stalled by slower/absent group members, or a child who needs more practice may be “left behind.”

5. Reading intervention vs. homework help: know the difference. If your child is learning something in school, it is great when a tutor can also touch upon and reinforce the same reading or spelling concept. However, most Orton-Gillingham based interventions already have a general scope and sequence that will also ensure basic sight words, spelling rules, phonics concepts, morphology, etc. will be covered in a very explicit, systematic way. If too much time is devoted to helping with specific spelling lists or other homework, it can quickly diminish time for actual reading intervention and progress.