Sunday, September 27, 2015

How Long?

When a child is diagnosed with dyslexia one of the first questions parents ask is, "How long will it take before she can read?" The question may not be this specific. It may be, "How long before school won't be as hard?" or "... before he won't be as confused? or, "...before she can write a coherent sentence?" No matter the words, parent would love to have a specific amount of time remediation will require. There is no set answer. There are, however,  several factors to consider when looking at remediation.

Assuming that one has selected the correct type of remediation, the first factor is the severity of  the problem.  Is it a problem that can be fixed by learning the sound-symbol relationships or is there a combination of problems? For example, does your child's diagnosis include spatialmemory, auditory, or visual processing problems? Some of these problems can be worked on simultaneously, but usually the more problems, the greater amount of time is needed for remediation.

Many children with dyslexia also have ADHD. This may mean a need for medication. It does mean a need for consistency and patience. A child who has a difficult time focusing on new knowledge and skills usually requires a longer time for remediation.

I know there are controversies about  IQ, but IQ affects learning. A low IQ makes it more difficult to learn new methods or to apply them to new material. An eager, able problem-solver with a mild LD will usually get through remediation quicker than a child with a below average IQ . Of course, children with high IQs often find their own way to hide an LD and may be more difficult to identify. Children with low IQs may be easy to spot, but the IQ is often blamed for the reading difficulty rather than looking for an LD.

What else effects remediation? Oh yes, personality. Actually not personality, but how the child applies himself during remediation. A stubborn child may decide she is going to learn this remediation thing no matter what, or she may decide to fight it every step of the way. A precise, detail-oriented child may eagerly apply this new method to tackle reading or get so bogged down in the details that he can't see the holistic application. Happier children tend not to pout or get depressed at lack of progress. They have the added advantage of being easy to work with, which helps the teacher maintain long time enthusiasm. Drama queens; children who engulf themselves in their emotions, often put a great deal of energy into emoting rather than learning.

A child who wants to learn tends to do better than a child who is apathetic or resists learning. One tool to see if a child is eager to learn to read is to ask them their favorite subject at school. Most kids say lunch or recess. The thoughtful child who says her favorite class is science, history, math, or some other academic subject usually is an eager student. This becomes a cyclical pattern which means an eager student creates an eager teacher who in turn encourages the student. A difficult child needs a very special person for remediation.

So how long will it take? Think about how quickly your child learns new things. Is he is an active or passive learner? Does she want to read? Is he is persistent? Is she is focused? Are her LDs severe? Be realistic in your assessment and realize that this task is a difficult one that requires stamina, optimism, and determination. Most children with LDs cannot take long breaks from the remediation process. 

Unfortunately, sometimes a chosen remediation process is not the correct one and must be changed. Parents worry, may feel overwhelmed, or get annoyed at the amount of time needed. Modeling high standards, patience, and optimism helps you and your child. Remember, you and your child have more going for you than this learning difference. 

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