I am from Massachusetts, and I come from a family of dyslexics. All four of my siblings have the disability. We all struggled through school but managed. Now my three boys struggle with dyslexia and reading issues.They have never really been labeled through a physician, but they show the classic symptoms. They are on an IEP and receive support. However, I am extremely concerned for my third-grader. He has been receiving support in the school system but he is still reading at the first grade level (barely). I feel he needs more support, and I believe he would benefit from a language-based program. Unfortunately, such private schools are just too expensive, and I cannot afford tutors. I guess I'm writing this today in hopes someone will guide me in the right direction.


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

I am sorry about your son who is not getting what he needs. I don't know about Massachusetts, but the school resources in Michigan are getting so squeezed that it seems our kids with learning disabilities are particularly feeling the brunt of it all. Moreover, many people just do not know how to teach dyslexic kids to read.

Unfortunately, outside services typically cost money. If you are near a university with a speech and language or special education department, they may have a clinic where students provide the services for a nominal fee. The students are supervised, so they do get direction.

There are some good programs on the market, but they cost money. The Barton Reading program is designed for parents, but it is expensive, although you may not need to purchase the whole thing—just the early levels. Without knowing your son's skill set, it is impossible to make a recommendation.

The Stevenson program is another one that is scripted that you could follow. The beginning book is under $100, but I'm not sure whether you'd need to order the Teacher manual. I suspect so.

I would suggest at least spending the money to get a good assessment that pinpoints where your son needs to start intervention to help you determine that. Here is a provider list for MA. You should tell the professional that it is your goal to get guidance as to how EXACTLY to help your son at home and that you want a home program. A university clinic may be another resource for testing.

I hope one of these suggestions pans out for you. I know what a challenge this can be. Do persevere—you are his best advocate!