Our dyslexia story

This story has a prequel
I have a BS in early Child hood Development. I’ve taught preschool for years. My ex husband has a BS in Chemistry. Our first child breezed through school, her reading level was always at least 2 grades ahead of her grade year. She was the child that every teacher begged to have in their class. I was always the class mom....the one that arranged the parties and helped on field trips and any other last minute project.

Then Emmy started school.

Emmy. My sweet, hysterically funny, sensitive to everyone’s needs, can’t sit without snuggling in your lap (even now). I knew something was different as soon as she started preschool. She wasn’t in my class but in the room beside mine. She just did NOT grasp letters. She went into Kindergarten not able to write her name, not able to recognize her left and her right, not able to write her name.
But she could remember a song after hearing it once. She could paint the prettiest pictures and tell the most elaborate stories and Remember things that happened from the time she was two. I use to say don’t talk about things in front of Em unless you want her to quote it back to you later.
Kindergarten passed with me feeling frustrated because she didn’t get a lot of the concepts. She knew very little sight words spelling tests were a nightmare. The teacher was wonderful and we talked often about Emmy’s struggles.

First grade passed the same way. The teacher wanted to hold her back, but Em showed enough progress after Christmas to put that on hold.

Second grade. 

This is where our nightmare really begins. up until this point. We have had supportive teachers, the staff at the school treats us like people (that’s important for later) The teacher never spoke to us despite us showing up to every class party. She sent a progress report home at Christmas that said she MAY want to consider holding her back. I said I would be available to meet with her any time after school or any time on Fridays. I never heard a word from her, so I assumed everything was ok as it had been the year before. Boy was that a mistake on my part.
The last day of school her report card said that they were holding her back. I called the school requesting to speak with the teacher. She never returned my call, My ex husband did the same with the same results. I emailed her, no reply. I asked to speak with the principle. Still no reply.  I asked several teachers what their thoughts were on how I should handle this situation. They all said I had given everyone a chance to respond so the next step should be the super intendent. This is what I did. I explained to him what happened; I asked that she call me. She did and I lost my temper because I was livid at how we had been treated. I wanted to know primarily why she never let me know when she could meet with me, Why she never helped me work on a plan to improve Emmy’s scores, Why she would go from Emmy MAY be held back to Emmy IS held back without a heads up. I never got those answers. So I called the super back and asked for a meeting with the principle, teacher, and counselor. They all showed up and it basically went down like this......The teacher said her piece, She didn’t push Emmy by giving her work on her level (she was doing well on her homework papers but we learned that they were 1st grade work) because she didn’t want her to hate school. I congratulated her on that because Emmy in fact hates school and never wants to go back. I told her that if I had ran my classroom (I taught Head Start at the time) that I would be fired. She should thank her stars that she has tenure because she is in fact the shittiest teacher I had ever encountered in my life. That was mean and pissy on my part but I meant it and I still mean it. The counselor gave us some reading pages to tutor her with. I mentioned that Emmy shows signs of dyslexia and I would like to have her tested. They all looked at me like I had grown an extra head. Said they didn’t know anything about dyslexia and that they didn’t know anyone to test for it that I needed to see our pediatrician for that. (That is false a pediatrician does NOT test for dyslexia.) I pointed out that we have the same degree and I knew about dyslexia so how did they get through school without learning anything about it. I got no response. My ex husband was also pissed and said his goal is to yes help Em but we know in the big picture Emmy will be fine because she has parents that support her education and are willing to do whatever. His concern is the other children that get this teacher and struggle and fail because she just doesn’t care. I left with the validation that she would not be held back but I knew we all had a lot of work to do. I needed to start tutoring her and research dyslexia.

Third grade 

I began by going to the teacher before school started and said I really think she is dyslexic and we are looking into having her tested. I wanted her to know right from the start that her dad and I are supportive and that we can be reached anytime and we are willing to do whatever if it has even a hint of helping her. Education is important we understand that and want her to succeed. The year was a series of ups and down. The up we got her diagnosed with dyslexia. It cost us 900 dollars and I think it was the most well spent money EVER! The school said she doesn’t qualify for an IEP and her 504 doesn’t really cover anything that the dyslexia specialist suggested she try. I should mention that none of these accommodations cost. It was all free things. Emmy would leave blanks on her page because she was told to “do the problems that you know” which may work with a traditional student but with Em she would lose her place and leave several blanks. The teachers punishment was for her to write “I will not leave blanks on my page” By her having to write this she didn’t have the time to read and if the students don’t read 4 books in a week (hers was lowered to 2) then she couldn’t get fun Friday. She never got fun Friday because she was always trying to catch up. Imagine how this affected her morale? I am so sad for her. She is being tutored by us with a dyslexia specific program. Barton Reading for anyone interested.

I should mention that her teacher in third grade has taught for many, many years and I am sure she just does what she always does. She is a sweet lady, but obviously not very willing to embrace change. She has been in contact with us all year long so we can work together to help. I am not longer accepted at the school as I was before. I get the feeling that I’ve been labeled the difficult parent. I’m now the parent who complains.  In my opinion that just translates into the parent that cares. The parent that fights for what is right.

Fourth grade

We had a second year teacher and I admit I was very nervous. I wrote her a note explaining that Emmy is dyslexic and that her dad and I were tutoring her at home, but expect her to contact us with any questions or concerns. That we did not want to be kept in the dark about anything.

This teacher ended up being Em's salvation. She was encouraging, creative in her approaches to learning, and always pushing Emmy to do more but never what she could realistically accomplish. I saw Emmy come out of her shell. She wasn't afraid to speak out in class. It was heart warming to see. For Christmas she asked if I would buy her books. I literally cried. Emmy was asked to join the academic team. She was over the moon excited about this. On her report card she only had a couple of C's and nothing lower. I couldn't be more prouder of her.

Fifth grade

We are a month into fifth grade and so far so good. Her teacher is young and energetic. Emmy said she isn't as hands on as the fourth grade teacher, and she misses that. She realizes that her spelling is terrible and that makes writing papers difficult. I think its time to look into a speak and write or something similar so writing papers isn't a nightmare.

Stay tuned for what happens next ...and check back for dyslexia information. This is still a work in progress. 


  1. melanie cantrallMay 16, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    As the grandparent of this adorable bright child who is so smart it is scarey and knowing that she has problems reading and not getting the help she needs is so frustrating because I know she could do the work if she could grasp the reading and understanding part so if you have a child that isn't doing well ask questions till you get an answer or the help your child needs

  2. I just want you to know that you are a voice to this issue in children today, I am so sorry to hear your daughter had to deal with this situation and her teachers were not open to change as well as the school in general. My son is 7 and although he is strong in math he has some issues with reading, we are thinking he may have this issue. His teacher is so nonresponsive and hard to get along with, I am thankful the year is almost over and we can just move on. I am currently debating homeschooling again because of this situation. However, I do look forward to hearing how this progresses and if the school will finally open up to the children who are struggling because of something they cant control...

  3. Thank you. I never thought of myself as an advocate until I had no other choice. I am by no means an expert but If I can help one family avoid the struggle we've had then it is worth it.

  4. Sadly now a days there's alot of teachers who could care less about the students and care more about the paycheck they get. I thought the point of being a teacher was to love and help the kids. But sadly that's not the case at some schools esp around here in my town.


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