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A diagnosis of dyslexia, followed by intensive remediation can dramatically change a child or adult’s life.
Rescuing Adults
Roseanne was a young actress who felt most comfortable auditioning for and playing minor ‘dummy’ roles on Broadway. Auditions were a terrifying experience if she had to do ‘cold’ readings. Although she had finished high school, it had been immensely difficult and she entertained no hope of ever going to college. She had recently seen a television show on dyslexia and thought she fit the profile. The diagnosis proved she was right. During two years of Starting Over remediation, she never missed a lesson and finally felt ready to tackle college. For her first essay, a critique of “The Lord of the Flies,” she wrote 29 drafts. It had to be perfect! Her English professor read it aloud to the class as an example of good writing. By the end of the year, it was clear to all that Roseanne was a gifted writer. Her self-image had changed radically enabling her to audition for and accept the role of a lawyer. Her marriage of five years had been purposely childless. As her skills improved and she learned that dyslexia was a problem of phonology not intellect, her fears of passing on a defective gene were exposed and erased. Her daughter subsequently graduated high school and went off to college.
Children of Different Ages Learn Together
Occasionally, a “Parent and Child” class enrolled children of disparate ages, but with similar degrees of decoding severity. One year, John, a 15 year old in the 9th grade attended the same class with Anthony, an eight year old in the 3rd grade. John desperately wanted to learn to read and was willing to be in a Starting Over class with a third grader. Anthony looked upon John as a big brother. Both had similar scores on measures of decoding ability. On the standardized, silent reading test of comprehension and vocabulary (the California Achievement Test) designed for children reading between grade levels 2 and 4, John scored reading level 3.3, and Anthony, 1.6. Anthony�s school had warned his mother that he would repeat the grade if he did not improve by June. At the end of the year, John�s score rose from 3.3 to 5.7 and Anthony�s from 1.6 to 5.1. To be sure that the tremendous jump was accurate, Anthony was given the next level test designed for those reading between grade levels 4 and 6. He scored 5.0 and was filled with the joy of accomplishment. The average grade growth for children in the Parent and Child classes was one grade level after 72 hours of instruction.
The Child in One-to-One Remediation
In first grade, Dorothy’s class was reading "The Flying Fish." Dorothy was not. She was still reading "Teddy Bear." She repeated the first grade, but did not advance to "The Flying Fish." In second grade, she was still trying to read "Teddy Bear." In eighth grade, she began private work with the Starting Over program and continued through 12th grade. Work began by raising phonemic awareness, her original weakness, and progressed to decoding strategies, vocabulary enrichment, sentence structure, comprehension, fluency development, and advanced narrative writing techniques. By 12th grade, her SAT’s had hit 1220 and she was offered 3 full and 2 partial scholarships to the schools of her choice. She selected a prestigious northeast women’s college and was graduated Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude. Later, she was awarded a Fullbright to do research in India and most recently was accepted to Brandeis Univ. for an MBA.
There is no doubt that Dorothy was a bright child. Her potential might never have flowered had she not jumped the first hurdle ‚ learning to read words accurately so that she could read to learn.