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Help for a challenged reader

Original post made by concerned parent, Vintage Hills, on Jan 26, 2010

has anyone found help for their child who is having trouble reading. My child is 12 and has been tutored, gone to summer reading school every summer, also has been tested by professionals. However no one can pinpoint the problem. This is causing much stress in our family and I know we are not alone in experiencing this problem. Pls don't mention PUSD they have done nothing for us but tell us how sweet our child and and that it will all come together one day. Yet she is 12 and has probably finished 3 books in total. Text books? don't even mention it, this is way too hard for my child to comprehend.

We are a family of readers, we read to her constantly as a child, on and on we've tried it all!

thanks for any tips or referrals.

Comments (20)

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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jan 26, 2010 at 6:28 pm

There are many learning disorders. I would suggest that you take your child to Stanford University for further testing. She may be dislexic, etc. If there is anything that can be done, they will know how to proceed.

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Posted by Susan
a resident of Parkside
on Jan 26, 2010 at 7:13 pm

You need to get intervention now. There are programs such as Barton Reading that can possibly help your child - see if your school has this program. Insist that your child be tested for a learning disabilty at school now, don't let them put you off. Many very smart kids and adults have difficulty with reading, they can still have much success and the fact is that many kids who struggle and figure out strategies to get through it have great success in life. Charles Schwab, John Chambers (Cisco), Richard Branson, Cher, Tom Cruise....all have dyslexia and think outside the box, which has provided very interesting lives for them. Good things can happen. Good luck with this there are options and you need to take charge!

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Posted by Tango
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jan 27, 2010 at 12:38 am

I feel your pain. Our son, who is now 51, was found to be dyslexic in the third grade. He was among one of the first in the Walnut Creek School Dis. to be found to have this disorder. We had all the bells and whistles they had to offer. It didn't seem to help. He learned to read on his own at the age of 46, by reading the Harry Potter books. Passed his GED. at 48. I hope they can find your daughters problem quickly. Going to Stanford sounds like a good start. I wish we had known about all our options when our son was in the 3 rd grade. There really wern't any then. He was put in a class for retarded students and you can imagine what that did for his self esteem. They were just learning how to treat it, and we went through the same struggles you are going through now.

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Posted by Jon
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 27, 2010 at 8:40 am

I too have a son with reading trouble. Sylvan cost us a small fortune and did not help at all. Barton has really helped him. I strongly urge you to talk to your school about getting your child into this program. It has helped my son a lot. I would also suggest that you go to a school board meeting and talk about saving this very valuable program as it is on the short list to be cut.

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Posted by Lee
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

Your kid is 12 and never been tested by PUSD? Go to the District Office and sign the paperwork that gives them permission to test your kid. They have 30 days legally in which to get this done. If they do not, get an attorney that specializes in school education issues. Once that happens the district will hop to it!! If you need help finding one, ask around at the PTA groups, they will know.

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Posted by kolohe
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:01 am

cholo is on the right track...they work little cousin was tested there for he didn't speak...made sounds and motions, they had us learn sign language...that helped...then all of a sudden, at age 5, he started speaking...

another boy cousin was having serious reading problems...a teacher in fremont, told me to try comics...seems he didn't like the we started with comics...sounds crazy, but he was reading...try something that might intrest her...even magazines...have her pick out articles she enjoyed and either tell you or write about it...what a change it made in his self esteem...he was now able to read with his cousin...

don't give up...have patience...the library and bookstores are filled with new wonders for her...let her pick, even if it's a clifford book...the goal is to get her to read something...but also look into stanford...

good luck...

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Posted by Parent too
a resident of Dublin
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:27 am

My son was also tutored, attended Sylvan and Kumon but couldn't learn to read at the level he was suppose to be at. One day he picked up the sports page. He started reading football cards and baseball cards and from that point on became a reader! He now has a collection of sports books that he's read from cover to cover. If there is something your daughter is interested in that she can read about, I think it makes all the difference. Even if it's a teen magazine, anything she likes, it will motivate her to want to read.
Hope this helps.

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Posted by Also a Parent
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:33 am

I would suggest that you get your child into the Barton program. I have two close friends whose children are in the program and they have had great success and it has built the child's confidence too! You need to be very aggressive with the school district to get your child into the program. But with the budget cuts coming up, the program might go by the wayside. I know that there are independent tutors out there too. It is worth looking into.

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Posted by Marcia
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

I agree with some of the comments for you to seek out Stanford or some other medical facility. Cover all tests such as dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, etc.
ADHD was/is still my problem and that of one of my children. To sit and read was painful. We would rather be physically active. Text books were unthinkable.
Finally, after 45+ yrs, I finally found an author I liked and actually could start AND finish the book; albeit in a year's time.
Take it upon yourself and do this. Don't wait for others and don't blame them.
Stay positive and hopeful.

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Posted by Tango
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jan 27, 2010 at 11:24 am

Marsha My 51 year old son would so understand your struggle. It was the Harry Potter books for him.

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Posted by Testing a good start
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 27, 2010 at 11:43 am

I think you need to continue to explore testing to find out some type of cause so that the right solution can be found.

My sister-in-law works in Speech Pathology and has started specializing in reading disorders. When appropriate for the situation, her method is to help the person "picture" the sentence they are reading. The problem isn't that the student doesn't know the words, but doesn't know how to mentally contain the information the sentence is trying to convey.

We are currently using Sylvan for another subject matter and are having wonderful success with them. It's probably a matter of the right tutor, the right program, at the right time.

I also agree with trying different types of reading material. My brother had a hard time reading in school and my mother bought him every Garfield comic book because it was the one thing he would read!! Keep exploring different types of materials and subjects.

Good luck with your quest.

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Posted by Kathryn Tournat, M.S., ET/P
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Jan 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm

A friend told me to look at this blog so that I could respond.
I'm an Educational Therapist in Pleasanton -- I offer parent outreach every Friday at Kicks USA on Ray St. in Pleasanton, from 8:30 to 10:30 for this very reason: To provide concerned parents accurate information. There is misinformation and stonewalling galore out there that I am combating one parent at a time!
If you bring the data or reports that the other professionals have already done, and/or examples of work, then I can be more specific about what your next steps should be.
Or, if you want to call me, I am at 872-8728.
My goal during a first meeting with a parent is to provide them at least one concrete next step to be started the very moment they get off the phone with me.
Right now, I have one for you:
Try one last attempt at getting help through the system because PUSD has one gem that shines bright: Christina Clark at Valley View Elem. If she can get your daughter into her reading program at your daughter's middle school within the next month (starts receiving tutoring by then) then do what she tells you to accomplish that. (She will know that right away.) If she cannot, then your daughter needs help outside of the system just as soon. I highly recommend looking up a list of Educational Therapists for an experienced learning professional who specializes in reading (
As some responders above suggested, Barton is good, especially for home-schoolers; but it doesn't compare to a professional who has more knowledge and know-how about learning anything as well as their own bag of tricks to apply to remediating a student's issues. That is what ETs have and do, very successfully. Come see me on Friday, or call.
See my website if you want at PS, I am trained by Christina herself in her Barton Program (that was many moons ago). I also have Lindamood-Bell and Orton-Gillingham training and practice in my bag of tricks, not to mention Making Math Real, PACE (for ADHD/working memory), and a host of other tools in there! In addition, I am a Cognitive Psychologist (Masters in Science), with 25 years of experience in Applied Thinking and Learning. =D
(BTW, Feb 12th, I move my weekly community outreach into the Pleasanton library, 10am to noon -- everyone is welcome!)

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Posted by better now
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm

My daughter had problems with auditory discrimination. Think of it like color blindness for sound. A color blind person can't tell the difference between and black and blue sock, a person with auditory discrimination has problems differentiating different sounds (phonemes) like the b and d sounds. In her case, she needed a "multi sensory" method and you can look up Orton-gillingham.
My understanding is that the Barton method has implemented the Orton Gillingham science into it's reading program in a easily teachable format.
What helped us focus in on her weakness and support her was a complete hearing test. Although she passed the cursory hearing tests at school and the pediatrician, it was only a complete hearing tests that identified her auditory problems. They measure auditory discrimination (color-blindness to sound) etc.

IF you need to pay out of pocket, do it. . . Self esteem is a terrible thing to loose.

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Posted by another mom
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Jan 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Definitely talk with Kathryn Tournat at BellaMenti (see comments above) about her Educational Therapy services. She's a great resource and can point you in a proper direction, if not offer assistance herself. She's very well trained and really connects with the kids and parents to make a difference. Certainly worth the phone call!

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Posted by Sue
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 5:17 pm

If by chance you don't believe PUSD has done everything possible, you can get legal help through CASE, Community Alliance for Special Education, an advocacy program that helps parents obtain the help children are entitled to. And even if you do think PUSD has done everything, it still might be a good idea to contact CASE, because in addition to legal staff, they have professionals on staff who can do further testing. They also have a helpful handbook that informs parents of the state special education mandates, much easier to understand than perusing the state websites. Look up caseadvocacy on Google. Good luck.

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Posted by Sue
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I also should have mentioned that CASE provides services on a sliding scale -- I think even free in some instances.
Once again, good luck!!!!

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Posted by Joan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2010 at 9:00 pm

You have the right to request that the public school district in which you live, do a battery of tests on your child. It should have been done long before she was 12! As a teacher in another district, I always felt that 2nd or 3rd grade was the time to start testing challenged students. Just go to the school or district office, ask for the referral form, fill it out, and return it. It will begin the process for the tests, which will show what needs to be done, and should include a conference with the parents regarding the results. If this does not help, then you need to get private workups done, as others have mentioned. Good luck!

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Posted by Do it Quickly
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 28, 2010 at 9:07 am

If you want the School district to help you in any way, you better hurry before they cut everything for next year! Outside help is probably the better solution. Next year there will be quite a few families looking for reading specialists for their children.

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Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 6, 2010 at 8:43 am

Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful and useful advice. We will put it to good use and continue to help our child break through this barrier. Many thanks

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Posted by Gail Nott
a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I don't recommend Kathryn Tournat of BellaMenti. She missed an appointment with a colleague & then got very angry & swore at me on the phone when I called to ask what happened. It was shocking how angry she got & I would be concerned with her working with kids.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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