We have a 7th grader with dyslexia and ADHD. We live in Tulsa where resources for remediation and assistance are so scarce. He goes to a private school which has helped but I feel that he is getting more stressed and more behind as he gets older with the more reading that he will have. We are already members of Bookshare (which he doesn't use as often as he should since it requires sitting and listening). I am really stuck here. He's really smart but with 7th grade we have had a wall with the load of work. He dictates a lot of work to me but I feel that there should be ways to accommodate him so that he can do the work himself and feel as if he has ownership. Is he just going to have to find ways of compensating? I am looking at your app list right now. Thank you.


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

I understand how challenging it can sometimes be to find your child the right help; and that is exactly why our donor started DyslexiaHelp. Most likely, your son is indeed going to have to continue to find ways to compensate—dyslexia does not just disappear. The amount of reading will continue to increase as he proceeds through the grades. The good news is that as he finds his career niche, he will develop vocabulary specific to his line of work and the reading should become a bit easier, so to speak. He'll not have to be reading in so many different subjects. Rosalie Fink did some great research with highly successful dyslexics, many of whom did not become "readers" until later in school. We’ve got her book listed on the website: Why Jane and John Couldn’t Read—and How They Learned: A New Look at Striving Readers.

Your son definitely should continue with Bookshare and audio books. He should have text-to-speech software available.

He may also benefit from intervention that helps him understand how to read different genres of text; we don't read a piece of fiction like we do a science text, for example. Strategies to help remember what he read would be helpful. He might benefit from strategies to prioritize different reading assignments. This will be particularly important as he moves through the grades and into college where the amount of reading increases.

Study skills strategies may also be helpful. Is there a way that he could listen to text and move? Can he walk around the room, sit in a rocking chair or on a yoga ball, or stand up while listening to and reading the book? He needs to understand that his reading will improve the more he reads—so he should always read the text while he listens to the audio.

Relative to writing, there are speech-to-text programs out there that he could use to dictate his thoughts rather than having you write them down. He may need to work with a professional to help him learn to organize his thoughts and write papers. We’ve got software (both speech-to-text and text-to-speech) listed on this page.

Last, your son might benefit from working with a professional to help him understand his learning strengths and areas of relative weakness. I believe this is important to do at any age, but now that he is getting older, he needs to have these understandings so that he learns to advocate for himself. You might want to start here. I also encourage him to read (and we’ve got the "Read This Screen Out Loud" button on every DyslexiaHelp page) our stories of successful dyslexics and Dr. Michael Ryan’s Letters to a Young Dyslexic. Dr. Ryan has walked the walk, so has much good advice to offer.

Successful dyslexics frequently comment on that one person who believed in them, and for many it was their mom. He is lucky to have you helping and advocating for him—and thinking of his future so that he can be successful on his own. You are getting at this at the right time. Best of luck!