From Jill M. Ham, Ed.S. Educational Consultant and Dyslexia Expert from Children’s Dyslexia Center of Georgia

Jill list many of the symptoms that might indicate you want to learn more about dyslexia (reading), dysgraphia (writing), and/or dyscalculia (math).

#1 Issue: CAN read fluently due to memorizing SIGHT WORDS, but cannot decode unfamiliar words, spell correctly, or write complete sentences with punctuation.
• Reading is slow and choppy, not fluent, but reader can re-tell story
• Reading is fast and fluent, but can not recall the information read
• Struggles with attaching the correct sound to the correct letter
• Will say the individual sounds r-a-t but can not tell you the word at the end of sounding it out
• Will say the letter name instead of the sound when trying to sound out a word
• Can not remember the same words on the next page when reading a book that repeats
• Cannot decode unfamiliar words that they have not memorized
• Skips words when reading
• Omits words when reading
• Inserts words that look visually similar, for example instead of reading HOSE it would be HORSE or HOUSE
• Avoids reading and will always check to see how many pages are in the book first
• Eye Sight is Fine, but Vision Therapy May Be Recommended

• Handwriting is tiny, small, large, and changes size
• Writing takes a very long time to due and very laborious
• Always struggled with writing letters in a fluid motion, many children draw their letters with circles and sticks
• Has a hard time copying notes from the classroom teacher or white board
• Phonetically Spells words (missing vowels or silent letters)
• Struggled or still struggles writing the alphabet without hesitations (hesitations occur when the writer pauses or has to stop and think which letter or how to form the letter)
• Will inverse letters when writing (writing letters from the bottom to top, instead of top down)
• Will reverse letters: d, b, p, q, z and many times write a j for g and a g for j
• Struggled or still struggles with remembering the difference between: b, d, p and sometimes m and w or n and u and we typically see the j and z reversed
• Will capitalize the B and D when writing so they do not reverse the lowercase b and d
• Will write uppercase letters mixed in with lower case letters
• Will write above and below the line without using the correct pencil grip

Working & Long Term Memory
• Executive Functioning Deficits
• Struggles with Working & Long Term Memory
• Hard time breaking task or multiple steps into parts
• Takes a long time to learn new concepts
• Learning vocabulary words and commutative information is extremely challenging
• Learns better with visual (concrete information) and hands on

• Struggles with memorizing addition and subtraction facts
• Struggles with word problems in math
• Struggles with memorizing and recalling multiplication facts
• Struggles with multiple step math problems
• Very creative in arts, music, dance, drama, but has a hard time staying focused
• Does not understand the concept of time and struggles telling time
• Struggles with money and counting money
• Struggles with going backwards and forwards on the number line

Homework & Sensory
• May Exhibit Signs of ADD or ADHD
• Low Self-Esteem and Very Self Conscious
• Fidgets, rocks, moves or tries to avoid when given a reading, spelling or writing task
• Homework and studying takes HOURS and MELT DOWNS occur
• Parent is re-teaching information daily/nightly
• May teach new information and 30 minutes later the child does not remember the information presented

Struggling Students

Struggling Students: What a Parent Should Consider


Tuesday – April 28, 2015


6:30 pm – 8:30 pm


Denfeld High School


Duluth, MN


Why has this year been so hard for my child at school? This class will include an overview of some warning signs of dyslexia (difficulty reading) and dysgraphia (difficulty writing), current research, assessment, ideas on how to help, and some of the advantages of this type of thinking.  Class is offered through Duluth Community Education.  Registration fee is $15.00. To register contact Janis Kramer 218.336.8760 x2 or instructor Deb Dwyer @ dwyers@boreal.org or 218-340-7393

“The 8 Skills Students Must have for the Future”

Michael Sledd writes “The 8 Skills Students Must have for the Future”  on Edudemic.com.  The original article is from Pearson’s 2014, “The Learning Curve”.  These are the strengths of many of the children I work with. As they work so hard on some foundational skills it’s important to remind them that their area of strengths are valued.  —




Many of the learners I work with struggle more with writing than they do with reading.  Although dyslexia and dysgraphia often coexist, children with motor and spatial dysgraphia, more than dyslexic dysgraphia, need Occupational Therapy. In addition to Orton-Gillingham tutoring, which provides solid instruction in language, Occupational Therapy helps with motor planning and an overall understanding of space in general.   A combination approach results in the strongest outcomes for struggling students.

From Dr. RIchard Selznick Blog: “School Struggles, Learning Disablities and Other Kid Stuff” from March 6, 2015.

When children struggle with written expression, “OT,” or Occupational Therapy appears to be the go to recommendation that is often given.

Writing has been shown to be the single most complex skill domain of the academic process.   The following quote from “Developmental  Variations & Learning Disorders” says it well:

“The transmission of thoughts onto paper calls for a delicate and highly complex process of neurodevelopmental integration.   Writing necessitates synchronizing all of the developmental functions (described in part I).  Writing is a final common pathway of these functions, a confluence of processes demanding attention, spatial and sequential production, mnemonic facility, language ability and motor skill.”

Motor skills (the skills targeted in OT) are the tip of the iceberg.   It’s a good first step.  What’s the next step?  Most of the time, I am not hearing the next step.  I only hear about the child getting, “OT.”

Beyond OT, a child needs much more remediation to address their deficits in writing (which are becoming more and more pervasive with the kids I am seeing).

For some time I have been beating a drum (although I understand no one is really listening), that a child struggling with writing needs to work first at the sentence level and master the skill of writing a good sentence before moving on to more complex operations.

Analogous to reading remediation, a child needs to work at very simplistic levels initially, derive a sense of mastery and then move forward to higher levels of complexity.

Most of the kids that I assess have little ability to understand what goes into writing a sentence or a paragraph, so to have them writing lengthy essays is way beyond them. It’s somewhat like asking someone to lift 25lb weights when they can barely lift 10lbs.

Takeaway Point:

Once your child has a had a good dose of “OT” to address his or her writing, ask, “Now what?  What’s next?”

What’s next needs to be the heavy lifting of writing remediation.

2014 M1READ, Reading Credit 2014



If you’re working on taxes and you’ve paid a tutor to help your child learn to read, you might be eligible for the MN Reading Credit. This credit is currently available only for the 2014 tax year.   The following is directly from the Department of Revenue form:

mom work


Who is Eligible?


You may be able to receive a refundable credit for non-reimbursed expenses you paid to assist your qualifying child with meeting state-required academic standards.  To be eligible for this credit, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your child has been evaluated for an Individualized Education Program(IEP) and does not qualify;
  • Your qualifying child does not meet standards for reading competency;
  • You paid a qualifying instructor to tutor your child in order to meet state academic standards in certain areas of study; and
  • The expenses you paid to the instructor meet the criteria identified below.


The following is a link to the form,



Dysgraphia (difficulty writing): What a Parent Needs to Know

This class is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 9th at Denfeld High School at 6:30 pm.
Does homework your child avoid homework?
Is it a battle every night?
Could something else be going on?
Is their work hard to read?
Or is it easy to read but takes forever?
Is their work full of spelling and punctuation errors?
Do they use both upper and lower case letters interchangeable?
Is their writing ‘scattered’ across the page?
This workshop is designed to give parents basic information to help their children succeed in writing. Dysgraphia, sometimes called disorder of written expression, is a neurology disorder. We will discuss how to detect, assessment, types of remediation, accommodations and technology. Bring a sample of your child’s writing to class.
Go to Duluth Community Ed to sign up

Should the ‘RTI’ model delay evaluation of struggling students for years?

The following the link will take you to a parent’s passionate plea for help for her daughter. She is pleading with her school board to revisit its policies. She praises the child’s teacher who is going above and beyond but unable to give her daughter what she needs.


5 Ways Dyslexia Can Affect Your Child’s Social Life

Remember that no two dyslexics are alike. This is a good reminder of how a children can be impacted, yet others may not be.

From NCLD.org

Written by Emily Lapkin

Dyslexia's Impact on Your Child's Social SkillsDyslexia makes reading and other language-based tasks difficult, but it can also affect your child’s social skills. Here are five common social challenges your child with dyslexia may face—and ways you can help.

5 Ways Dyslexia Can Affect Your Child’s Social Life Having dyslexia can sometimes contribute to social issues on top of learning difficulties.

Social Challenge #1: Your Child Doesn’t Get the Joke

The dyslexia link: Dyslexia can make it hard for your child to understand jokes or sarcasm.
How you can help: Tell jokes or stories at the dinner table to help your child practice responding.

Social Challenge #2: Your Child Has Trouble Finding the Right Words

The dyslexia link: Kids with dyslexia can’t always find the words they want to say—especially if they feel strongly about the topic or need to respond quickly.
How you can help: Give your child time to think. Slow down the overall pace of the conversation.

Social Challenge #3: Your Child Misses Social Cues

The dyslexia link: Kids with dyslexia might not pick up on body language, facial expressions and other social cues.
How you can help: Watch your child’s favorite shows the volume off. Ask your child to guess how a character is feeling based on his body language.

Social Challenge #4: Your Child Hesitates to Message Friends

The dyslexia link: Kids with dyslexia may shy away from texting because they have trouble understanding the abbreviations.
How you can help:Show your child how the abbreviations work. Some are based on spelling (“idk” for “I don’t know”) and others on how letters and numbers sound (“l8r” for “later”).

Social Challenge #5: Your Child Remembers Things Inaccurately

The dyslexia link: Dyslexia can make it hard to recall specific words or details. This can lead to confusion about what friends said.
How you can help: Play games that can help strengthen memory. Have your child name the different kinds of cars on the street and then say the names back to you a few minutes later.

Not fitting in can take a toll on your child’s self-esteem. But there are many ways you can help your child build confidence, improve working memory, develop strong social skills and avoid hurt feelings.

What Are the Warning Signs of Dysgraphia?

From the National Center for Learning Disabilities

Just having bad handwriting doesn’t mean a person has dysgraphia. Since dysgraphia is a processing disorder, difficulties can change throughout a lifetime. However since writing is a developmental process—children learn the motor skills needed to write, while learning the thinking skills needed to communicate on paper—difficulties can also overlap.

Dysgraphia: Warning Signs By Age

Young Children

Trouble With:

  • Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position
  • Avoiding writing or drawing tasks
  • Trouble forming letter shapes
  • Inconsistent spacing between letters or words
  • Poor understanding of uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Inability to write or draw in a line or within margins
  • Tiring quickly while writing

School-Age Children

Trouble With:

  • Illegible handwriting
  • Mixture of cursive and print writing
  • Saying words out loud while writing
  • Concentrating so hard on writing that comprehension of what’s written is missed
  • Trouble thinking of words to write
  • Omitting or not finishing words in sentences

Teenagers and Adults

Trouble With:

  • Trouble organizing thoughts on paper
  • Trouble keeping track of thoughts already written down
  • Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar
  • Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech