Parent Booklet

Commonly Asked Parent Questions

What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific type of language (reading, writing, spelling) disability caused by visual and auditory processing dysfunctions in a person with an average or above average intellectual ability.

Is a dyslexic mentally retarded?
No. To be diagnosed as dyslexic, a child must have a normal, or as is often the case, better than normal IQ.

Besides getting tutoring or a special class for him, what can I as a parent do?
The most important thing a parent can give every child is his love. The child with a learning disability may need his love demonstrated more than do most children. Be sure to reach out and pat him or hug him; reassure him that you know some learning is difficult for him but you know that he can do it.
Love him with firm, reasonable discipline. Do not let him have the run of the home because he has a problem. He should be expected to perform completely as the normal child that he is. Be as consistent as possible.
Teach him responsibility by having definite duties for him to carry out each week.
Keep his life as ordered as possible. He should have a definite schedule for rising, going to bed, eating meals, etc. This is important for every child but really helps keep the child with a learning disability on an even keel.
Help him keep in the best physical health possible.
Have eye checks every two years.
Have a complete physical before beginning any special program and have regular physical checks. Ask your doctor to be sure and check him for allergies. Many students with learning disabilities have allergies which may affect school performance.
Have his hearing checked before he begins a special class or tutorial session.
If he is particularly hyperactive or distractible, keep his room as plain as possible. Remove any unnecessary decorations and make his surroundings as restful as possible. This often helps him to be calmer and more organized.
When you are planning anything different from the usual routine, tell him. If you explain ahead of time that you will have company for dinner and exactly what you want him to do, he will know. If you don't prepare him, he may be constantly interrupting in an inappropriate manner.
Remember your child can do anything you train him to do. He may not automatically develop all the nice traits you want him to have, but few children do. Teach him how you want him to behave. Reward good behavior with privileges and punish poor behavior with removal of privileges and rewards.

When a parent says, "I just can't handle him," he usually has not really tried to teach his child proper behavior. It is not easy. If you have an unmanageable child, begin to change him one trait at a time. Pick the thing that annoys you the most. Tell him you want to work on changing this with him. Work together to make the change. Be patient and firm. Don't give up.

Should I tell my child he is dyslexic?
Yes. Discuss it with him as you would if he had any other problem. He has a right to know what causes his difficulties in school. He is usually quite relieved to know that he is not "stupid" or "dumb." The worst thing a parent can do is to try to hide the problem from the child. He will know something is wrong and he will think you are ashamed of it if you won't talk to him about it. You might tell him, "You do have a reading problem, but the examiner said you were bright. We will have to work very hard for a while to help you, but we can make learning easier for you." Briefly answer any questions he might have. Don't worry about being technical or detailed.

What can I expect from my dyslexic child?
In school he will have difficulty with reading, writing, and spontaneous spelling. English will usually be his most difficult subject. If he remains in a regular class without outside help, he may be characterized as a dreamer, a child who is not trying as hard as he might. With tutoring or a special class he can be helped to perform up to his mental potential. He may always have to work "harder" for good grades than the student without this problem, but with help he can do it. Adult dyslexics have achieved in every kind of profession through hard work and remediation.

Should my child read for pleasure?
Children with Dyslexia and ADD can read anything they wish to attempt outside of school. The parent should not force them to read material not prescribed by their teachers. Since the processing of symbols is a deficit area for the LD child he may never "enjoy" reading in the same way as the reader who can do it easily, but he can come to find it less stressful after specific teaching techniques improve his accuracy and comprehension in reading.

What is ADD?
ADD means (Attention Deficit Disorder) without hyperactive behavior, but marked distractibility is a prime characteristic. In a classroom the ADD student can stay in his chair but is constantly missing information since he cannot focus and concentrate normally. This distractibility is due to neurological deficits in inhibition control.

Is this a reading problem?
Reading (decoding) may or may not be affected in the ADD child. Many times the student with ADD can "read" (call words), but does not comprehend what he has read.

Does the student with ADD have difficulty with other subjects?
Yes. The math skills are often poor and writing and spelling problems may affect all subjects.

Is ADD more severe than dyslexia?
No, it is just different.

Is the student with ADD poorly coordinated?
He may have poor balance. Some fall frequently or bump into objects. They can achieve in sports but they have to work at the skills they want to master. They are often very competitive.

Does the student with ADD have poor writing?
Yes, almost always this student has writing difficulties characterized by poor slant, poor spacing, omitted and added letters and words. The writing gets worse the longer he writes. With training he can improve his writing skills, but rarely has excellent handwriting.

Does the student with ADD frequently have behavior problems?
Yes, he can. He is often an impulsive child, quick to react or strike out. He thinks of himself first and others later. This usually requires firm parents who work very hard, plus teacher cooperation.

Should the student with ADHD be given medicine to help him control his hyperactivity?
Sometimes, but always with a doctor's recommendation and under supervision.

Aren't these medicines dangerous?
No more than any medicine. The main thing to remember is that they should be prescribed by a physician and administered under his supervision. The parent should report frequently on the medicine's effect to the physician. If he prescribes such medicines, they are necessary in his opinion for the student to have the opportunity to take the best advantage of his learning situation. These medications have been researched for over 40 years and are not habit forming. Studies have also demonstrated that they do not have long term effects on growth.

What can the person who is ADD or ADHD achieve?
The ADD/ADHD child, like the dyslexic, has a normal or better than normal IQ and he can achieve his intellectual potential if properly taught.

Will my child always be hyperactive?
For some, much of the actual hyperactivity or excessive movement will improve by puberty. Others describe symptoms of impulsivity and a lack of inhibition control into adulthood.

If my child has a combination of learning differences such as dyslexia and ADD or ADHD will he be able to achieve?
Combinations of learning differences are more complex to remediate, but many students with combinations of the six patterns presented have been able to overcome most, but not all of their challenges. Many are successful adults. As with all challenges an attitude of perseverance, a strong education program., and supportive parents and teachers are optimal.

Can my dyslexic or ADD/ADHD child be cured?
There is no "cure" in the medical sense of the word for these learning disabilities. Specific instruction for these students to overcome their deficits is necessary. With hard work on the part of the student and consistent support from the parent, the child can become effective in reading, writing, spelling, and/or math and so overcome his major difficulties.

How long will my child need remediation for his learning difference?
Learning Differences occur in varying combinations and the severity of the learning difference effects the length of time a child would benefit from remediation and/or a specialized school. As a result, there is no one answer, but most children are in remediation for an average of two to three years.

Characteristics of Learning Differences

Children with learning differences are variable in their school performance. One hour or day they know something, the next they do not remember it. One period of a lesson they spell a word correctly, a short time later the same word is misspelled. The common description of learning different children is that they know a great deal, but cannot put it down in writing.

Learning different children are frequently characterized as "immature," "lazy," or "not trying." They are none of these. They will not outgrow their problem. They must have special help. Unless the teachers and the parents of the learning disabled child are aware of all this child's difficulties and the problems he faces in school each day emotional problems often develop. These students have normal or above IQ. They are not dumb, they know how poorly they perform in some areas. They try very hard and everyone says to them, "If you would try harder you could do it." Frustration and defeat are a part of every minute of this child's day. Pressure builds and the child may become a shy withdrawn student, a class clown, or a hostile, negative student.

Parents of children with suspected learning disabilities should first have their child tested for a complete educational diagnosis. Students can be tested for specific learning disabilities as early as five years of age to determine if they are "at risk." The advantage of early diagnosis and specific teaching is, of course, to avoid the problems that develop if these children attend a regular class and are forced to compete with students who do not have their difficulty. Emotional problems can be minimized or avoided.

If a specific learning disability is diagnosed, parents should explain to their child the problem they face has nothing to do with how "smart" they are, but that they do have a learning difference. They should be reassured that with proper teaching and hard work they can achieve in school. Parents should be very honest that this will not be easy, but with hard work and the specific methods they need they can do their school work better and more easily. It will be worth the effort to learn and to read effectively.

Children with learning disabilities, as all children, need two major things from their parents. Their first need is love; the child with learning disabilities has his confidence constantly battered. He needs the parent's love demonstrated often and consistently by a touch, a pat, a kiss, a comment of "good job."

The second need is really part of the first--discipline. Discipline is love. A child knows a parent who takes the time to make him do the right thing really loves him. Right and wrong must be carefully and constantly explained to the child with a learning disability. He cannot read for himself stories with great moral lessons. He will only learn what is taught orally until he can read effectively.

Characteristics of Dyslexia

Dyslexic individuals have normal or above intellectual ability. Their main difficulties are seen in reading, writing, and spelling. Many dyslexics are quite verbal and do excellent oral work in school, but their written work is slow and often looks like the work of a younger child.

Dyslexics' errors are caused by physical, neurological differences in the specific areas of the brain in which symbols (letters and sounds) are processed. The dyslexic may read a word several times correctly and then reverse or jumble the letters in the word or omit it all together. The dyslexic processes written symbols more slowly than a normal reader. He is often slow in finishing his work.

Math is often the best subject for a dyslexic. If they have any problems in math, it will be seen in immediate recall of number facts, spatial errors in computing problems or a loss of the pattern of the math function they are doing.

Motor skills are usually average with weaknesses noted in rhythmic exercises.

Characteristics of ADD/ADHD

Persons who have ADD and ADHD have normal or above IQ levels. ADD means attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity. This child can stay in his chair, but his attention, focus and concentration are erratic. He is "with" you and then not. Children with ADHD may be described by teachers in such terms as "extremely wiggly." His parents may be told he is "never still" in school and he may rarely be at rest in any situation. His "hyperactivity" can be noted almost from birth. He frequently has sleep and feeding problems as a baby. He is "into everything" as a preschooler. Under stress he may fall apart completely. He can have temper tantrums and is often described as impatient.

In school, children with ADD/ADHD have difficulty in reading comprehension skills, math, writing, and spelling. His writing is usually very poor. His spelling is inaccurate. He is described as very distractible. Actually he is attending, but to every incoming sensory stimuli as he cannot inhibit the less important sights and sounds in the environment and focus his attention on the most important information being given at the time; for example, instructions by a teacher, a direction, or a request by a parent.

The person who has an attention deficit disorder usually has marked problems in motor skills. He may have poor balance. He often will not compete with boys his own age, but would rather drift into play with younger or older boys and girls so he will not be required to "compete" on an equal footing.

What Are Learning Differences?

Definition of Learning Differences
A language-learning different child shall be defined as a child with average or above-average intelligence, with adequate vision and hearing, without primary emotional disturbance who has failed or is at high risk to fail when exposed to school experiences using conventional educational techniques. Language- learning differences include, but not exclusively, (1) dyslexia, (2) attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, (3) dysgraphia and (4) dysphasia or a combination of these differences.

Definition of Dyslexia
"Dyslexia is one of several distinct learning disabilities. It is a specific language-based disorder of constitutional origin characterized by difficulties in single word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient phonological processing abilities. These difficulties in single word decoding are often unexpected in relation to age and other cognitive and academic abilities; they are not the result of generalized developmental disability or sensory impairment. Dyslexia is manifested by variable difficulty with different forms of language, often including, in addition to problems reading, a conspicuous problem with acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling." (National Institutes of Health and the Orton Dyslexia Society)

Definition of ADHD
The essential features of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are developmentally inappropriate degrees of inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. People with the disorder generally display some disturbance in each of these areas, but to varying degrees.

Manifestations of the disorder usually appear in most situations, including at home, in school, at work, and in social situations, but to varying degrees. Some people, however, show signs of the disorder in only one setting, such as at home or at school. Symptoms typically worsen in situations requiring sustained attention, such as listening to a teacher in a classroom, attending meetings, or doing class assignments or chores at home. Signs of the disorder may be minimal or absent when the person is receiving frequent reinforcement or very strict control, or is in a novel setting or a one - to - one situation (e.g., being examined in the clinician's office, or interacting with a video game). ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is without hyperactive behavior but marked distractibility is a prime characteristic. (DSM III--Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Third Revision, American Psychiatric Association.)

What is Processing?

InputCentral Nervous SystemOutput
The Central Nervous System receives linguistic information from the printed page. The ear receives auditory message if someone is reading aloud. If reading silently, the Central Nervous System auditory centers attach auditory information to visual symbols. Processes the visual and auditory input and integrates this information. Integrated message is read, spelled, or written.

InputCentral Nervous SystemOutput
The Central Nervous System receives linguistic information from the printed page. The ear receives auditory message if someone is reading aloud. If reading silently, the Central Nervous System auditory centers attach auditory information to visual symbols. Processes the visual and auditory input and integrates this information. Variable message is integrated at times, at other times the messages are not processed accurately and the individual reads, writes or spells incorrectly.

Why Does Shelton Do Formal Evaluations?

The purpose of testing is to gain a profile of an individual's strengths and weaknesses in mental ability, perceptual ability and academic skills. With this profile, a specific prescription may be made for a student's academic program.

There may be 8 major reasons why a student is not functioning well in school.
  1. Sensory Deprivation
  2. Cultural Differences of Deprivation
  3. Educational Deficiency
  4. Low Mental Ability
  5. Mental Retardation
  6. Frank Brain Damage
  7. Primary Emotional Problem
  8. Visual/Auditory Perceptual Processing Deficits

Students who show a pattern of average or better mental ability and below average visual and auditory perceptual functioning indicate spotty or lowered performance on the academic tests of reading, writing, spelling, and math. Children with this pattern of performance exhibit the characteristics of dyslexia and/or related disorders.

There are several similar but somewhat different categories of the dyslexia. The chart below describes these 9 patterns.

Pattern 1 Reading Weakness
  • Diagnosed Reading Disorder or Dyslexic Errors in Reading, Spelling, Writing
  • Reading Accuracy Below Average
  • Spelling Below Average
  • Written Expression Below Average (Mechanics)
Pattern 2 Related Disorder: Comprehension Weakness
  • Reading Comprehension Below Average
  • Math Comprehension Below Average (Math Application)
  • Written Expression Below Average (Organization and Content)
Pattern 3 Related Disorder: Attention Weakness
  • Diagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Sustained Attention Below Average
  • Rx to Improve Attention
Pattern 4 Related Disorder: Math Weakness
  • Mathematics Below Average (Math Calculation)
Pattern 5 Related Disorder: Motor Incoordination
  • Fine Motor Delays
  • Gross Motor Delays
  • Handwriting Below Average (Dysgraphia)
Pattern 6 Related Disorder: Oral Language Disorder (Dysphasia)
  • Oral Language Below Average
  • Mixed Receptive/Expressive Language Disorder
  • Expressive Language Disorder
Pattern 7 Related Disorder: Social Interaction Weakness
  • Social Skills Weaknesses
  • Non Verbal Learning Disorder
  • Mood and/or Anxiety Issues
Pattern 8 At Risk for Learning Disorder Pattern 9 At Risk for Oral Language Disorder or Oral Language Weakness

Students who indicate these patterns are eligible for the Shelton program. The Shelton program was written specifically for students with average or above mental ability and perceptual processing deficits.

An example of a processing deficit can be seen when a student who has read a word 3 times in a story, calls the same word incorrectly the fourth time he sees it. For example, he may read cat correctly and call it tac (reversal), act (jumbling of letters), cap (calling a word that is similar to the correct word), or the student may omit the word cat, or add another word such as a or the.

Processing deficits may occur in oral language or written language. In written language, the results of these dysfunctions may be seen in decoding and/or comprehension in reading, in spelling, in writing skills and/or in math. Processing dysfunctions are variable. Individuals may do well at one time and have many errors at another time.

If an individual has processing deficits occurring to the degree that it affects his performance in academic skills, he is eligible for a Shelton program. The Shelton educational method and materials were written for this student.