Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


Our Journey Through Adoption, Homeschooling and Dyslexia
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Guest blog by Lesley Z.
IMG_0677My son started using Learning Ally the first week of May. I have been very concerned about his learning style since first grade. After reading The Gift of Dyslexia and The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, I realized I wanted him to be able to "ear" read (audiobooks) as much as possible while still offering him the tools to "eye" read (traditional reading) when necessary. He is going into 5th grade this fall and in the past four months he has read the complete version of The Hobbit and 16 Redwall books. His confidence is soaring, his vocabulary is increasing ("2 score is 40 years...") and he walks around our house with his earbuds in ALL the time. We are so excited for all the exposure to great literature Learning Ally will give him. I have been telling all my friends who have kids with reading difficulties about this website. Update: Since I first sent that testimony to Learning Ally at the beginning of the school year, our son has completed six more Redwall books, fifteen 39 Clues books, and four Jules Verne. His next series is either Mysterious Benedict Society or Beverly Cleary. I was just telling him today how much he would love Henry and Ribsy. We feel like we've opened up doors to a world he was literally closed off from. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he feels it. You can see the joy on his face as he converses with my husband about books he's reading. His vocabulary and sense of humor continue to grow by leaps and bounds.
"He is going into 5th grade this fall and in the past four months he has read the complete version of The Hobbit and 16 Redwall books. His confidence is soaring, his vocabulary is increasing '2 score is 40 years.' and he walks around our house with his earbuds in ALL the time."
Our story: Our son was adopted from China just under the age of four. He did so well learning the English language. I had no concerns at all until the middle of kindergarten when I noticed he was reversing letters and LA-406_LRnumbers. Still, I had no huge concerns. It was when repetitive exposure to many sight words (when, where, would, could, should) did not yield successful recognition that I began to realize something wasn't connecting. We have an opportunity to be involved in a longitudinal older adoption study at a nearby college. (We have two other adopted children from China. They are all within 9 months of age of each other, but came home at different chronological ages.) It was in this study we learned he has Executive Processing Disorder which is a form of Dyslexia.
"We feel like we've opened up doors to a world he was literally closed off from. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he feels it. You can see the joy on his face as he converses with my husband about books."
While reading Gift of Dyslexia and Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, I realized that our son may always struggle to "eye" read. I learned that 20% of people in the world struggle to symbol read. However, they have an uncanny ability to see things three dimensionally. I had always known our son could build intricate Lego towers with amazing symmetry. What I read in these two books made a lot of sense. We were able to get him an account at Learning Ally through the diagnosis from the psychologist doing the adoption study. I have a friend who adopted a seven year old from Haiti. She is working to get her son an account on Learning Ally too. I can not emphasize enough to her how "small" her son's world is at this time. Not being able to read puts a child at great risk. Reading allows children to expose themselves to worlds beyond their own world. Worlds of imagination, vocabulary, emotional thought processes, problem solving, and travel to far away lands that are taken for granted with symbol/eye readers.
"I can not emphasize enough to her how "small" her son's world is at this time. Not being able to read puts a child at great risk. Reading allows children to expose themselves to worlds beyond their own world."
Our son's sisters, also adopted from China, do not have dyslexia. They can read symbols and memorize spelling words. In fact one of his sisters who is also in fifth grade is spelling at an 11th grade level! We take a photo on the first day of school every year. The kids are encouraged to draw something on their "year in school" picture that they are interested in. Imagine my joy when he wrote and drew Redwall ! Did I mention that our son has a Blue belt in Tai Kwon Do? That is just three levels away from a Black belt. Our desire is for him to feel as successful in school subjects as he does when he completes a Tai Kwon Do test and receives an Iron Fist patch for 90th percentile accuracy.
"Way too often people ask me: 'Does he read along with his stories when he is listening to them?' I answer that, 'ear reading IS reading.' ( Thank you Ben Foss)"

Way too often people ask me: "Does he read along with his stories when he is listening to them?" I answer that, "Ear reading IS reading." ( Thank you Ben Foss, author of the Dyslexia Empowerment Plan.) He actually "reads" at a fifth grade reading level and his spelling is at grade level this year as well, but this has come with days and years of tedious one-on-one drill. I'm glad he can "eye" read when he needs to, but I'm overjoyed he is "ear" reading way beyond his grade level and ultimately being exposed to books that will create memories he will cherish for years.

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Leslie Z. is a mother in Michigan who is dedicated to homeschooling her kids. She joined Learning Ally via Homeschool Buyers Co-Op

Learning Ally is a national nonprofit that provides audiobooks and services to children like Leslie's son who have print disabilities. We are able to provide these services thanks to generous donors. If you would like to support our mission, or if you are interested in obtaining audiobooks for your child, visit LearningAlly.org.

 


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