Signs of Dyslexia and our Journey


Hi I’m Karma and I have Dyslexia!  I was not diagnosed until I was in high school and, at that time, the treatment I received was a color tinted piece of plastic to put over my reading material.  As a result, I had to figure out ways to read, learn and otherwise get through my schooling.  Fast forward 20 years, I now have 3 wonderfully made children of my own and learned the hard way that Dyslexia is genetic; Pierce our second child has been diagnosis with Dyslexia.

I want to share my journey with having a child that is dyslexic in the 21st century and let you know what I have learned about the diagnosis and the treatments available.  While I am NO expert on dyslexia, I have lived with the condition and have watched my son struggle with learning,  I hope this inspires you, or someone you know, to take an active role in getting help for a child you know.  My son Pierce is 11 years old and in the 5th grade.  We did not just wake up one day and realize he had dyslexia, it was a several year journey, with many  frustrations along the way.  Just like most moms, I am super busy and had to have faith. Getting mad or frustrated doesn’t help anyone, so instead, I have faith and keep looking for answers to help my child.

It took several years of “signs,” lots of frustration, and not knowing where to go or what to do.  Pierce is very smart boy, speaks intelligently with a big vocabulary and has carried on adult conversations since he was very young.  We are in a great public school system, yet they didn’t recognize it until I made several requests to do testing.  One thing I will say is that if you see signs of dyslexia or learning disability in your kiddo, push for testing SOONER THAN LATER!

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In Kindergarden Pierce was extremely frustrated with reading and would get anxiety when it was time to “read for 15 min to a parent.” Of course at this point he was still printing his A, B, C’s but we did notice his handwriting was messy and  he did not like to write at all.   By 1st grade the reading anxiety got worse and his handwriting was not legible.  In fact, it looked more like his little brothers writing from pre-k.  Finally in 2nd grade with continued frustrations with reading, handwriting, of understanding what was really at the root, we requested our first “testing.”

Signs of dyslexia: {SEE:  20 Things to know about a Person With Dyslexia.}

  • Dyslexia can affect spoken language, written language and language comprehension.

  • Dyslexics have trouble breaking down unfamiliar words into letter-sound segments. As a result, reading is slow and filled with errors.

  • Dyslexics require extra time and effort to process language information.

  • Dyslexics often need to be taught to look at words linearly, left-to-right.

  • Dyslexics have difficulty in learning (and remembering) the names of letters.

  • Dyslexics often fail to understand that words come apart; for example, that “batboy” can be pulled apart into “bat” and “boy” and, later on, that the word “bat” can be broken down still further and sounded out as ‘b’ ‘aaa’ ‘t’

  • Dyslexics often have a difficult time learning to associate letters with sounds, such as being unable to connect the letter b with the /b/ sound.

  • Dyslexics will sometimes make reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters; for example, the word “big” is read as “goat.”

  • Dyslexics often struggle to read small “sight” words such as “that,” “an,” “in.”

  • Dyslexics often substitute words with the same meaning for words in the text they can’t pronounce, such as “car” for “automobile.”

  • Dyslexics often omit parts of words when reading.

  • Dyslexics often have difficulty remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, and random lists.

  • Dyslexics often have an extreme difficulty learning a foreign language.


Thank the Lord!  They finally diagnosed Pierce with dyslexia {end of 2nd grade} and started him in the school program.  In school they pull him from class 4 days a week, 30 minutes per day to help him work through the “kits”.  In our regularEenglish language, we understand the “ck, st and sh” type of spelling rules but for dyslexic children, spelling and mixing up of letters is a brain thing… not a “smart or not smart” thing.  This occurred all of 3rd & 4th grade.

Fast forward to 4th grade, our biggest year with finding a solution.  In December we were referred to an amazing Neuropsychology Dr who performed an extensive evaluation to better help us understand Pierces deficits and how to help him.  It was eye opening to say the least.  We discovered he was extremely smart and is in the top 95% in IQ.  However, we identified hi deficits with attention, reading comprehension, decoding text, memory  processing deficit and handwriting along with a lot of other big name things that I can’t remember.

We were referred to an Occupational Therapist to help him master and retrain his brain to be a more confident student, to an eye dr to do eye therapy and also to a psychologist to discuss the next step with his ADD. By May I swallowed my “all natural” ego and got over the fact that my son has a neurological brain deficits and attention deficits that distract from his learning ability that normal kids have.  I am happy to say that he is on the lowest dose of medicine and it is working like a champ!  He even says, “I feel like my brain is not in the clouds anymore.”


pierce christmas 2013Meanwhile at school, this was the hardest year emotionally for Pierce I have ever seen in any of my children.  His spirit seemed to lack self confidence.  He has gained a little weight and kids were making fun of him at school for “being different” and even call him names like “Stupid” for going to his dyslexia program.  This just breaks my heart!

Nothing changed with teachers/ educators at school until I requested another 504 meeting to asses his development in the dyslexia program.  The specialist determined he had not retained any information from the past 2 years or had applied the “kits” that were taught due to his lack of focus… hence now we finally understand he has ADD.  Also, we discovered his 4th grade teacher had lost patience with him, stuck him in the back of the class and continued to “call him out/ Pierce pay attention” which is the worst thing possible you can do for this type of kiddo.  The group of educators were very helpful now that I shared the results from our outside testing, we had a better plan of action:

  1. Move Pierce up to the front of the class with less distractions and better help from teacher(s).
  2. Oral explanations/ directions on all assignments, tests and homework.
  3. With the ADD medication, his attention is ON POINT to better absorb the dyslexia kits and pay attention in class.
  4. Get speech testing. {with lack of understanding letter decoding, his letter pronunciation has suffered, so we will begin speech therapy soon.}
  5. I insisted he go back and repeat the kits he didn’t learn or understand.

All summer I was so proud of Pierce for his openness & dedication to learning new tools at therapy.  We discussed how this hard work going to OT would help reprogram his brain to help him become a more confident student in the future.  At therapy they work on specific areas and include: gross and fine motor coordination, visual-motor abilities, visual-perceptual skills, sensory processing, play skills, self-help skills and safety awareness.  He went twice a week, 3 hours per day for the summer program.  The metronome therapy seemed to make the biggest impact in rewiring his brain so far.

I feel he became more confident and accomplished and is ready to start 5th grade strong.  In school, he will repeat the last 2 kits in the school dyslexia program in hopes that now he is on ADD meds, he will absorb it!  Outside of school we spend about 6 hours a week driving to and from OT, having his sessions then doing special homework.  He will continue OT this twice a week but just 45 minutes per session now focusing on handwriting.  My prayer is that we can get his brain to click and get all things in order before middle school next year.  Teachers are way less likely to care about him when being shuffled from class to class, so I am taking ALL the necessary steps to help set him up for success now!  This is a HUGE emotional, physical and financial commitment, but as a faithful mom, I KNOW we are preparing Pierce for a more confident future.


Parents if your child seems to be struggling with difficulties in school, please look for help.  Clearly the school is the first step.  BUT it is up to you to request specific testing and ask for help.  They will NOT suggest it (which I wish they would have sooner) so please look for the signs of frustration, low confidence, spelling and handwriting issues along with trouble to pay attention and a number of other learning disabilities.

Solutions for Dyslexia:

  • Research has proven that explicit, systematic phonics can actually help ‘rewire’ the brain and help dyslexic students learn to read.

  • The use of the Orton-Gillingham approach can significantly compensate for the language learning and processing problems that arise from Dyslexia.

  • Dyslexics score significantly higher on test when they are given additional time and given the test orally.

  • Dyslexics do best when directions are two steps or fewer. They often get confused and frustrated with a long list of “to dos” or directions.

  • The more important, consistent, frequent, multi-sensory, and emotionally reinforcing information is presented, the easier and more enduring language learning becomes for Dyslexics.

See Fun Facts About Dyslexia for LOTS more information and other resources: Understanding Dyslexia,  What Do You Do If You Suspect That Your Child Has A Learning Disability.