- Carri Abrahms, M.S., CCC-SLp
Dyslexia Trajectory: A Parent Reflects
Updated: May 16, 2022
As we prepare to launch this dyslexia resources site, I’m reflecting on another launch—our
11-year old daughter into public middle school. (Spoiler alert: she has dyslexia.) With her
permission and input, I’d like to trace the trajectory of that launch by considering a few defining experiences. Perhaps you will recognize some of these. Regardless, we hope this reflection and new dyslexia resources website offer insight, hope and light on your path.
At about age 18 months, a seemingly trivial incident involving a shape sorter became my first
clue about how differently and incredibly her mind worked. The shape sorter was a turtle with
square-, star-, diamond- and circle-shaped holes in its “shell.” I demonstrated how to carefully consider each block and insert it into its corresponding hole. Then I lifted off the shell, removed the blocks, handed them to her and said, “Now you do it.” Without a moment’s hesitation, she lifted up the turtle’s shell, carefully placed all the blocks into the tray, returned the shell and looked up expectantly. Mind blown. In one brilliant stroke, she had ascertained the goal—get the blocks in the shell—and found the quickest and most efficient way to achieve it.
In early preschool, she had trouble naming colors, particularly yellow. Which, of course, made
me all the more determined to get a little practice in at every opportunity, making her, in turn, all the more determined to ignore me in protest, a cycle that would unfortunately play out in all my attempts to be her “tutor.”
By age five, I realized she would never enjoy all the rhyming games I was so eager to introduce, and that she was far from ready for the rigors of kindergarten. So we enrolled her in a sweet Montessori school where she would be in a mixed-age classroom and the teacher could determine when she was ready to progress to kindergarten. The teacher shared some of my concerns, and we had her screened by a local educational therapist. The results were
inconclusive. She was on the lower end for some literacy and math skills, but not alarmingly so. The therapist recommended close monitoring and an in-depth evaluation if she didn’t meet milestones.
Meanwhile I continued to torture her with my erstwhile attempts at building literacy skills,
convinced that if she just manipulated enough phonemes or read enough boring BOB books,
she would magically become a good reader. Even though I knew better. Indeed, my biggest
regret was not realizing how incredibly difficult these tasks were for her, even though as a
speech language pathologist, I absolutely knew better.
By age seven, it was becoming increasingly obvious that this approach wasn’t working, but her first grade teacher kept advising me that “she just needs a little more time,” despite the fact that she was miles behind her classmates (and the classmates were already taunting her about not being allowed to sit in the reading corner because she couldn’t read). I was working as a speech language pathologist at a pediatric clinic, and my wonderful director kindly offered to provide services for my daughter. One of my highly capable colleagues created a plan of care and I felt immense relief at going back to my primary role of mom.
By age eight, with minimal progress in therapy, I reached out to our local school district for
testing. They were beyond amazing, and by October of her second grade year, she received an IEP for “Specific Learning Disorder” in reading, aka dyslexia. To minimize disruption, she
finished second grade at her Montessori school, but we added twice-weekly tutoring with a
Slingerland specialist, bringing her weekly tutoring sessions to four—an exhausting and
ultimately unsustainable regimen that so many families know far too well.
We were incredibly fortunate to be accepted to a recently established school specializing in
dyslexia, North Bridge Academy, starting in third grade. The invaluable learning we all received would fill another blog post (and probably a couple hankies), so I’ll just take this full circle back to our beautiful daughter, now a confident, capable learner, ready to launch into her next educational adventure.
Wherever and whoever you are on a child’s dyslexia trajectory, I sincerely hope this dyslexia
resources site gives you the information, inspiration and impetus needed to steer that precious child to the stars.
Carri Abrahms, M.S., CCC-SLP
Parent of North Bridge Academy student