My Kid Can’t Read

26 Feb

I remember the moment I realized that my son was not just being stubborn by refusing to do his reading assignment and I realized that he literally couldn’t
sound out the words to do his homework. Later, I would learn that this was dyslexia. Dyslexia it’s a learning difference that’s labeled as a learning disability (when it is labeled at all that is – as school districts often do not use the term at all). A disability is what we call it when we don’t know how to teach the child. It puts the onus on the child and not the instruction. I also came to find out that his teachers, reading specialists and specialized academic teachers had no understanding of this disability at all.

The Mayo Clinic defines Dyslexia as is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. Also called specific reading disability, dyslexia is a common learning disability in children.

It is actually a specific language impairment. Phonology (speech sounds) is the first building block of speech and language development.

Early warning signs include:

Delayed speech articulation skills

Mispronunciation of words when articulation skills are intact

Inability to sound out words

Frequent guessing of the word based on the first letter sound in the word

Poor spelling skills

Extreme frustration completing assignments and homework

Avoiding reading and writing

Failure to thrive academically despite high intelligence

Being missed perceived as lazy and going as far as being mislabeled as “defiant”

Children who suffer from this type of specific language impairment simply do not look “disordered”. They look normal thus are frequently mislabeling as “lazy”. This “silent”disability can have extreme consequences. These children may feel like failures and disappointments to their teachers and family as they struggle to understand how it is they can know so much and demonstrate so little through written language. These children may often be punished for their seeming “unwillingness to put forth effort”. Teachers and parents often misunderstand them because they are very smart. It seems like they should be able to complete a simple task of sounding out simple words. As academic text become increasingly more complex they may appear to fall further and further behind thus leading to acting out or task avoidance. They may often end up in the principal’s office and much much worse. The estimates on how many of the prison population suffer from this “disability” are dismal.


It’s time

4 Feb

Did you know that in 2014 5% of the children in California were Black? More than one out of three of those Black children were disproportionately poor. In 2013 87% of Black fourth-graders were unable to read at grade level.

Let that sink in for a minute. Nearly 90% of Black children were unable to read at grade level past the fourth grade.

Black parents, we have to ask ourselves this question: are 90% of our children inferior in their ability to learn? Or is there something wrong with the system teaching them?

Or better, maybe we should ask ourselves this question:
Is it not time for us to wake up?

A Wake up Call to Black Parents

28 Jan

As an African American educator it would be irresponsible of me to not educate about students who look like me. Here are just a few sobering statistics on Black boys I learned while attending an advocacy training conference:

1/4 Black boys graduates high school…. 1 in 4

75% of Black kids are raised by single mothers

Failure to medicate (medical neglect) was the top reason for Black boys to be removed from their homes in 2015…. Failure to MEDICATE

Black boys are 4 times as likely as whites to be labeled intellectually disabled (new term for what was formerly known as mental retardation)

I could go on and on. There’s failure to learn to read, suspension and expulsion rates, the school to prison pipeline, on campus policing, etc…. which each warrant their own blog entries at a later date. Today the message is short and sweet. Black parents it’s time you arm yourself with knowledge because you are your child’s #1 and most important advocate.

Back to School

30 Jul

Is it just me or are summer breaks getting shorter and shorter? Weren’t these breaks 3 months when we were kids? This time I had exactly 2 months and 3 days. Oh the joys of returning to school. For me that means my 5th move (if you don’t count the time I moved twice in 1 year) in 5 years. Perhaps this is why some special educators feel like the unloved step children of the educational system. Hopefully complaining about it now on my blog will be cathartic and I’ll return on the first day of work happy and eager to dive right in. I’m sure I will just as soon as I get my new keys and locate an unused dolly and boxes! Man, I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

Here we go!

20 Jul

I spend far too much of my time as a special educator complaining about the “system” day in and day out. I thought it might be cathartic to do something with my rants. And, insightful to hear what others have to offer on various subjects. This is both my career and my personal life. I’m an educational speech pathologist and the mother of a former special education student. Advocating for them is where my heart lies but I’m often discouraged within my politically laiden environment.
As for blogging. Right now to be honest, I have no idea what I am doing so be patient until I get this thing mastered. I didn’t major in English. I can however; talk about special education and my passion for it ad naseum. Time to learn to let my fingers do the talking. So, here we go!