Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 2343 - Audio Books for Children with Dyslexia

When reading is just too hard.

As you know we have a learning challenge in our house which makes school for one young man pretty damn tricky.

You'll also know that I was recently singing the praises of audio books for all sorts of reasons.

Well I married up the challenge with the solution and BINGO! we now have his first high school English book on CD.

You would think this exercise would be simple.  Of course nothing is simple.  Particularly when you're trying to extend the size of the box we've all been thinking in.

When it comes to reading and teaching children how to read, I used to think inside a fairly small box.  But the more I learn about dyslexia, the more I realise we've got to find a bigger box.

Many years ago when my boy was first diagnosed I chatted to other parents who were in similar situations.

I will never forget one conversation where a boy had struggled his entire life just to get through school.  Finally when he got to year 10 he had a teacher who believed in him enough to concentrate on his strengths rather than on his reading and (resulting) behavioural challenges.  That teacher sourced all his English books in audio form which allowed the boy to enjoy reading for the first time, actively contribute to class discussions and form his own thoughts around the stories.  The boy came home with his first ever A.

It was a life defining moment.

I don't want my boy to have to wait until year 10 to get the same opportunities.

So how am I going about this?

First things first, we have chosen a high school that seems flexible, compassionate and open to the possibilities.  I spent time with that school six months before my boy's first day in year 7 to ensure it was going to help us all move forward positively.

Then at the end of the second week (once we'd got a feel for high school and what was to be expected of our boy) I met with the school to propose the idea of audio books for English (on account of the fact that he came home with Harry Potter and it would take us approximately seven years* to read it if we were to go down the traditional "reading with your eyes" path).

I wouldn't say there was resistance from the school (they've been very open to the idea) but I would say they were trying to give me all the other "how to help your child read at home" and "getting your kid up to speed" options first.

I know how to get kids excited about reading.  I wrote the book on it (literally). Although I didn't tell them that.  

I stayed patient. This dyslexia thing has been with us for a long time.  I've had plenty of time to think about it.  This alternative way of thinking about reading is new to them. So the idea of audio books as an option took a month or so to come to fruition.

In the meantime of course I did an audio book budget in case I had to buy them all myself plus I talked to the local library about options.  Anything is possible, just at what cost and at what waiting period.  At $30 a book to buy ourselves it will start to add up.  With waiting periods at the local library of 4-10 months, we'll need our reading lists a year in advance.  So I was really hoping the school would just take it on board as part of their normal resourcing. Our child isn't the only child with this challenge. There are plenty of kids who can benefit from a different approach to the written word.

Last Friday my boy walked through the door with his first audio book.  Harry Potter on CDs.  #WINNING

We're now in the process of working out how to transfer them to his iPad, but the bottom line is the school is now on board.

We've already started to expand the size of the box.

This my friends feels good.

Have you got a child with a learning challenge?

Do you have a school that think's outside the box?

What "thinking outside the box" moments have you had recently? 

*7 years is obviously a huge exaggeration but I can tell you that some exercises definitely feel like 7 years.


  1. That is incredible news, Leanne. What a breakthrough and what a great book to start with!

  2. What a great achievement! Well done on facilitating the school to see outside it's traditional way of always doing things! Your son is lucky to have you as his mum.

  3. Yes I have one child who struggles with learning and each week is a challenge. We get through it with a smile at the end of the week so that is a good thing.

  4. Our library has a huge range, and you can also borrow from other libraries through them - so the actual book comes from libraries all over Sydney. Get your library to get that system in place. It's awesome! You can get almost ANYTHING!

  5. This is great Leanne. The power of advocating for your kids and look how many others you'll be helping. We are currently repeating Little Yang in prep and are unsure how his current learning delay will pan out (he's doing speech therapy currently too). I would really welcome your advice as time goes on and we get a clearer picture of his challenge. I'm sure your son is going to love Harry Potter.

  6. Well done Leanne. This is so good and I love your perseverance to help your son and for looking outside the box. More schools should be offering this help kids learn. What a great outcome and a boost of confidence for your little boy too.

  7. I bet you can buy and download audio books as well- might be an option!

  8. Leanne as a former high school teacher (though the way my brain has currently disengaged from my body I am not sure anything is making sense!) I just don't understand why schools are still resistant to these ideas and working with families. Parents as our children's first teachers and advocates, do schools honestly think that you haven't tried everything before. I am so glad that they have finally conceded to giving audio books but frankly you shouldn't have to fight for them. I hope that they are providing texts for all the other subjects as well. xoxo

  9. I am pretty sure, our library has a link on it's website to audio books you can actually download and listen too, rather than having to wait for the audio book to come in. It would be worth asking your library if they offer this service and if they don't perhaps they could recommend an alternative?

  10. Great post! What a good idea, and I think more schools could benefit from your suggestion. I was particularly impressed by your patience in getting them to come around to the idea in their own time. As you say, you already know what to do, but they are just learning, so you have to give them the space to think. But not every parent would, and that's awesome. I'm so glad you've found a way to foster the love of reading in your son (so important!). I personally love audio books and have several of my faves in three formats now - ebook for travelling, trad book for when I'm at home and audiobook for driving and being out and about.

  11. What a great idea, and something I'd never thought of. At the moment all seems to be going well with my girls learning abilities, but at 4 and almost 3 I'm not sure what difficulties would start to show up yet, I must research this. My big girl is so keen to learn how to read because she loves books and reading and I just know she is going to come home from her first week at big school next year and tell me how annoyed she is to not be able to read straight away (something I told my mother after the first day! I could read basic words but was so desperate to read my story books myself that I was devastated to find out it would take more than one day to achieve this, lol!).

  12. This is such a fantastic idea and I'm so happy for you. And I think it's great that finally (although still a way to go) schools and teachers are realising that different students have different learning needs, and the traditional way isn't always the only, or best.

  13. That is so awesome that they came to the party! What a fantastic idea, and I'm glad you're all finding ways to expand the box. It's funny really because we always think that reading will get better with practice, but I guess that in some situations it won't so we need to change our perspective. Thanks for insight Leanne.

  14. As others have said, there are many audio books in libraries.I know that there are inter-library borrowings. Is there any such place in your area? What about SPELD? I don't even know if that exists. However, I know the ABC shops which have now all closed down have many audio books for kids/teens and you might like to check out their on-line merchandise too. Best of luck Leanne!

  15. I talked about audiobooks on the blog today too - but differently... It's great that your son's been able to latch onto some audiobooks. And wonderful to get people thinking outside of the box when it comes to exceptional people and their needs! :-)

  16. That is fantastic! How great. You can work on the usual reading exercises as well (if you think they'll help), but in the meantime he can actively participate in English class about the books' stories, themes and characters. I love this approach. (And the box analogy.) #teamIBOT

  17. admirable post! I really like and appreciate your work, thank you for sharing such a useful information about resorcing practice strategies and objectives, keep updating the information, hear i prefer some more information about jobs for your career hr jobs in hyderabad .


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