The middle of last year was a turning point for Joel. We were always told that he would need to learn to read in his own way and that he would work out how to do it when he wanted it enough. Ten months ago, thanks to the Percy Jackson books, he wanted it enough. He went from reading as little as possible to reading constantly. He has a bookshelf that he's proudly labelled 'books I've read'. It contains all the Percy Jackson books (5), the sequel Heroes of Olympus series, the Harry Potter books and the dystopian GONE series that he's currently working through (we bought him #5 this afternoon.) Library books aren't good because you can't keep them.
People ask if his comprehension is okay. In answer, yes. It is very, very good.
Sometimes I allow myself to think that his issues are in the past. Then something will happen to make me realise that they are not.
Joel got a D for his first major English assessment piece this year. It was a persuasive essay. The content may have been fine but the spelling was so bad that the teacher couldn't read it.
I proofread Joel's second major piece of English assessment. A narrative. I was very careful to make sure that I did nothing except correct bad spelling (70% of words) and add full stops and capital letters. He got an A.
So Joel's issues primarily exhibit in spelling now. But base level spelling is really important. Your words have to be discernible to others or at least to word's spell-check. The spell-check doesn't know what to do with Joel's writing and teachers certainly don't. Unless we can get it under control he will not pass any subject (except maths) in high school.
So we are looking for a way forward.
My speechie friend has told us about the assessments that they do.
My friend with a learning-complicated ASD daughter told us how a DAS assessment has helped them.
We've had a WISC before and are having it again (because the school lost the report with the details on it!)
Apart from the WISC, I'm not going to rush into anything. Before I make up my mind which way to go (we have to do something) I want to be convinced that whatever we do will yield results for Joel. He doesn't believe that anything can help him spell better. And certainly nothing at school ever has. Ideas?
He really is complicated. We were chatting this afternoon about the book he had just finished. I looked through it and asked him what a pile of tricky words were. He could read them all.
I was curious so I put these non-words to him, one at a time.
He could not read them. Not any of them. Not at all. Not even when I told him that each word was made up of two words crashed into each other. His could pick his name at the beginning of the last one, but still had no idea what the whole non-word was.
For Joel, reading is a non-phonetic activity. He gets to know words by their shape. When he encounters a new word in a text, he works it out based on the context and the beginning two letters and maybe the final letter of the word. Then after that he knows the word for next time. The middle letters contribute nothing in working out the word initially, but are useful in making the word distinct from other words so that he can recognise it in the future. Lots of letters make it longer. Letters with tails or flags will make it a taller or droopier word.
Is it any wonder that Joel can't spell?
How do you teach spelling to a child who reads like that? When he's writing, he just makes up the middle letters of the word! He developed his own way of reading, not out of perversity but because his brain's slow processing speed could not decode words phonetically. So is it likely that teaching him to spell phonetically would work?
Psychologists? Therapists? Any suggestions? Are you usual methods likely to work in this case? I'm after advice. Joel goes to high school in 18 months. I feel like time is running out.