I’m the mother of 21 year old. We live in Illinois, my son has never been tested for dyslexia but for all the signs he shows I think he has dyslexia. He recently dropped off college because it was just too hard for him, he had trouble reading and understanding concepts, meeting deadlines to turn in homework, it was just impossible for him. As his mother I’m feeling guilty for my lack of knowledge I didn’t help my kid in his early years and may be avoid all the frustration he has right now. I would greatly appreciate if you can provide me with any information where my son could be tested and get help at low cost; unfortunately we don’t have the money to pay for any private services. Please help.


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

First, please do not beat yourself up about not doing things earlier. We cannot know what we do not know.....I know that sounds a bit cliche, but it is true. You got your son to college and even though he is not there now, that was a big step. With help on strategies; self-awareness about his dyslexia, strengths, and learning style; and self-advocacy, he can go back and try it again.

College can be a challenge even for someone without a learning disability. He should congratulate himself that he tried. He should see if there is an office to support students with learning disabilities at the school he was attending and go and talk with someone; if not, then the academic advising office is always a good resource.

There may be funding for him to get financial assistance to get an evaluation. Also, university clinics typically have a nominal fee for testing and therapy because the testing is done by students in training who are supervised by certified clinicians. I don't know how far you are from Evanston (Chicago's a big city), but Northwestern University has been a leader in the field of learning disabilities for over 50 years. I would suggest an inquiry at the Communication Sciences and Disorders department. If it is too far, hopefully they could give you some recommendations that are closer to home. St. Xavier University has a training program in speech-language pathology. I didn't see on their website that they do evaluations for dyslexia, but you could also inquire there. I'd contact them now before it gets too far in the term. You want to ask for someone who's had experience with his age level.

I'd also have your son read the success stories on DyslexiaHelp. These individuals talk about how they had to persevere in the face of challenges and find ways to circumvent difficulties in order to achieve their goals. The website has the "read out loud" feature, so your son can listen to the stories. He should also start looking at the strategies on the website. Even if the information is written for a teacher, he can get some ideas.

Please let me know if any of these suggestions work out for you. My heart goes out to you. And, don't fret over the past -- we can't change that. You are advocating for him now and that is what matters! Successful dyslexics frequently talk about that one person who believed in them....and for lots of them it is mom!