Recently I’ve been asked by several people what we do in school to help Cameron. He has an orthographic processing disorder. This means that, basically, he presents like someone with dyslexia and dysgraphia. Some of the accommodations we’ve come up have been recommended by school psychologists. Some we’ve come up with through trial and error.
Writing With Skill: There is a lot of reading and writing in Writing With Skill. I really hesitated to get it for him last year, but ultimately I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I went with it. He’s learned so much and his writing has improved a lot.
Accommodations: Spelling and punctuation never count. He dictates his essays. Sometimes I give him a “cheat sheet” of notes from which to write his essays. When he takes his own notes, he types (he cannot usually read his own handwriting if he hand writes them). I read most of the poetry and short story selections to him. I read all instructions to him.
Reading: All of his assigned reading in school is done on his Fire using immersion reading. We buy the ebook and corresponding audiobook and he plays them at the same time. As the audiobook reads to him, the words are highlighted on his Fire screen. This has actually helped to improve his reading. He has gotten better at the word shape guessing because he sees and hears the words. Without immersion reading there is no way he could read as many books in school as he does because he reads so slowly and often guesses words wrong as he reads (he just finished his eighth book of the school year – we are in the last week of our first semester).
Outside of school, 100% of Cameron’s “reading” is audiobooks. He is a voracious listener. His reading level when last tested (March 2015) was 4th grade level. His interest level is so much higher and his comprehension level is as well. Immersion reading is a bit exhausting so doing it all the time would be overkill. Plus, pleasure reading should be totally for pleasure. Of all my kids, he’s actually the one who loves books the most.
Spelling You See: No accommodations needed. Even though we were told he will never learn to spell, SYS has helped improve his spelling a little bit in his essays.
Vocabulary From Classical Roots: Cameron was having a lot of trouble with it so I did an experiment. I worked with him for a lesson and discovered he has no problem remembering what the vocabulary words mean. He was simply unable to properly read the words. He was guessing (word shape) but getting them wrong. I started reading the questions to him. Now he gets all of them or just one or two wrong in each lesson.
New American Cursive: No accommodations needed. He does just a little bit each day. Writing is physically difficult for him. I don’t care if he ever writes in cursive, but I do want him to be able to read it when other people do.
Voyages in English: If the instructions say to write out entire sentences to make grammatical corrections, I do not require him to. He can just write the portion he needs to change. Sometimes I read the sentences to him (some days reading is harder/less accurate than others). Occasionally we will do it completely orally.
Mostly he does his math on his own as written. I stay nearby, however, in order to be on hand to explain things and sometimes read instructions or word problems to him. When he gets answers wrong I check his math immediately to find his error (usually simple math mistakes like 3×3=6 or transposing numbers) and have him redo it.
He does history with his younger brothers. We are using grammar stage History Odyssey (next year they’ll all be doing Logic stage HO). We do most of it orally. Grammar stage work is obviously below the level where he should be, but he is learning a lot and that’s what matters.
Cameron also does science with his younger brothers. We are using grammar stage Elemental Science (will be doing Logic stage ES next year). Again, we do most of it orally. Cameron runs the majority of the science experiments (science includes tons of experiments for us). He already knows so much science from audiobooks he’s listened to and youtube videos he’s watched for fun so he can usually explain it to his brothers even better than I can. Again, since it is grammar stage work it’s below the level where he should be, but it’s working well and he’s learning (and teaching).
High school kids in our church go to Seminary every morning. They learn a different book of scripture each year (for Cameron, that will be New Testament in 9th grade, Book of Mormon in 10th, D&C/Church History in 11th, and Old Testament in 12th). They have to read that book (or most in the case of the OT) during the school year and they have 25 scripture verses per year they need to memorize. We’ve already talked to the Seminary Supervisor for our stake and it happens she was a resource teacher so she is more than happy to allow accommodations for Cameron. He’ll be allowed to “read” the scriptures using the audio function on the Gospel Library app. He won’t be required to completely memorize the Scripture Mastery verses (memorization likely isn’t even a possibility for him). He will be able to do something like have the first letter of each word in front of him as he recites in order to jog his memory and help him get them right. They have to take assessments (they get as many chances as they need to score high enough to pass) and he may have to have the questions read to him. We’ll see what’s needed or not needed for those when he goes to take his first one a year from now.
Our school days go very smoothly between the accommodations we’ve settled on plus the fact that Cameron is just a super focused, determined student. My goals in educating my kids is for them to learn stuff and also enjoy learning. Doing things as written is not so important, particularly if it impedes reaching those goals. So far, I think we’re doing pretty well helping Cameron achieve my goals.