Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 436

So Oprah didn't show.  Such a shame. Oh well, her loss I guess.  She would have loved Tahlia's candle ceremony.  It would have completely put her Opera House shows to shame ...

On to other things.

Today I am going to talk about our little Darby Doo.  Darbs has been struggling to learn to read and write. He's just finished year one and 6 months ago the alarm bells went off for me that he didn't seem to be reading/writing as well as he could given his obvious progression in other areas.  So I started to investigate.

I started with a behavioural optometrist who decided Darbs was doing ok for his age group but that there was some eye fatigue that could be assisted with glasses.  So $200 later we walked out the door with our strategy in hand.  After a couple of months of headaches (a new thing since the glasses) and no obvious improvement I decided to take it further.  I engaged the help of the learning support coordinator at school and she agreed that while he had great comprehension his reading experience was marred by his difficulty with recognising the words.  So I did some more research and ended up with a referral to another optometrist.  This one said to ditch the $200 glasses.  Darby had an issue with one eye only rendering the glasses useless. To use the technical jargon our boy "exhibits an alternating convergent strabismus, slow adduction recovery at near and a micro-suppression of the right eye". Sounds interesting.

So the next step was to attend remedial dyslexia therapy.  Darby and I attended the Alison Lawson Centre last night for another assessment and some next steps.  Darby has what is called visual dyslexia, which is a physiological issue that symptoms dyslexia.

The bloke described it like this: our eyes see two of everything (each eye receives the same message) which gets sent back to our brain that puts the two images together to send it to the front of the brain so that we end up with only one visual.  Well, Darby's right eye has less inward muscle control so the message he receives back when reading isn't quite one visual, but includes a bit of the second visual as well.  Plus it gets worse within his arm length range.  Where he holds the book.  If we hold the book out further than his arm length it can ease it up a bit.  There is a 40cm range in there or something. Oh yeah, and things get worse as the day goes on because of the muscle fatigue.

The alarm bells went off for me (and the frustration commenced) when one word within a story would be repeated over and over but every time he'd read it, it was like he was seeing it for the first time.  Well, guess what!! If the words around that one word were to change, he WOULD be seeing it for the first time.  I'll show you:

I have a red hat
The hat is red.

When Darby sees that his eyes actually take part of the word before it as he reads it so that the words you would think he'd learn (red and hat) look completely different in each sentence. He probably sees them as:

ared dhat
ehat sred

Now, to confuse things he doesn't see the first letter (therefore he doesn't try to sound it out), but his brain associates the first letter with the word which confuses the recognition part of the brain.  Or something like that. It's all too scientific for this little nun chuck. All I can say is, if that is the case, then my boy's a freakin genius to have gotten so far.  Bloody hell.  The poor kid. Reading and writing must have been the devil's work for poor little Darby Doo. No wonder he hated it!! But what a trooper ... he always did it with only minor complaint.

So anyway, the good news is we an fix it. With exercise. So while his classmates are taking time off from school Darby will commence his ten week program in mid-January and we'll be doing an hour of special homework everyday for 3 months so that he enters year 2 feeling better equipped to handle the year 2 workload.  He's ok with that.  He's just happy we're going to be able to fix it, and that it was out of his control all along.  He's actually taking on the challenge with a great deal of energy ...


  1. Oh wow.

    This sounds exactly like a couple of the kids that I do reading with in Olivia's class. (Same age group too.)

    Can I ask Leanne, what are the exercises/special homework?

    Darby sounds amazing, by the way...

  2. Hi Lucy. I think there are probably a lot of kids out there going about their business undiagnosed.

    We start his new program in mid-January. I'll get the pack then. I can send you a copy if you are interested ... :)

  3. Oh the poor little dot! What a champ to have gone along this far. And kudos to you, Mum, for going in to bat for him.

  4. Leanne, I would love that. I shall email you...xx

  5. Leanne, I got a tingle reading this, for poor little Darby struggling with this but more for the things that you are doing to help him. I know it probably seems like nothing to you to research and push until you have an answer and now work hard at home to fix the problem, but to me that is wonderful and big as many parents don't do such things (which is often not their fault but it would greatly help their children if they had the direction and resources too :) ). Could I sneak in a little hand up here too for a copy? I have quite a few dyslexic children in my class next year and this year I sort of just made it all up with them. Which got results but I would love more ideas :)

  6. Thanks Jen. My Mum and I were actually reflecting the other night how everything is right where it should be for Darby and I. If I wasn't able to be home with my kids it may have taken years to pick this up. If I didn't work at the school this year I wouldn't have realised the normal strategies weren't working. If I hadn't of listened to my gut mother instinct I'd have settled for the previous explanations/diagnosis. I have so much to be grateful for!! The power of synchronicity at work ...


I love hearing your thoughts! Keep them rolling in :)

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