When my youngest son was four years old, he attended a sweet little preschool Montessori program.
As part of his “graduation” to kindergarten, his teacher prepared a portfolio of his work for us to review at our last parent conference. I loved his teacher. I trusted her. She was engaged, excited to come to work with her kids each day and genuinely concerned about their well-being.
When she showed me his letter reversals and omissions, she was kind. She reassured me that these types of errors are common for preschoolers, with a kind smile. Then she carefully asked, “You mentioned a while back that dyslexia runs in your family, right?”
Homeschooling Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia (the 3 D’s)
Eight years later, there’s no question. Not only does dyslexia run in my family, but my children both have a host of learning differences that make the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic anything but basic.
It has taken all of these years to really uncover, define and begin to understand my boys’ learning differences.
For example, my oldest struggles significantly in math concepts and facts. My youngest does not.
My youngest, at twelve, is barely reading at a second grade level. My oldest taught himself to read before he was three.
Both of my boys struggle with the mechanics and cooperative skills in writing.
What I have learned along the way, is that these types of learning differences are not especially unusual. They are not a byproduct of a lazy child who just doesn’t want to do his work. They are very real and they have names. Most importantly, there are strategies that we can use to help.
Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia: What Are They?
Depending on who is evaluating your child, you will hear various names for the 3 D’s.
Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia are the terms I use to describe my sons’ differences. It’s what the first therapist used to effectively communicate what was going on to us and the terms just stuck.
But on all my boys’ paperwork for schools and outside therapies, we use different vocabulary.
Dyslexia is also called Specific Learning Disorder: Reading.
Dysgraphia is also called Specific Learning Disorder: Written Expression.
Dyscalculia is also called Specific Learning Disorder: Mathematics.
According to The American Psychiatric Association, a person must have difficulties in at least one of the following areas, in order to be diagnosed with specific learning disorder.
Difficulty reading (e.g., inaccurate, slow and only with much effort)
Difficulty understanding the meaning of what is read
Difficulty with spelling
Difficulty with written expression (e.g., problems with grammar, punctuation or organization)
Difficulty understanding number concepts, number facts or calculation
Difficulty with mathematical reasoning (e.g., applying math concepts or solving math problems)
The symptoms must have continued for at least six months despite targeted help.
Reading problems can include difficulties with reading accuracy, reading rate or fluency, and reading comprehension. Dyslexia refers to learning difficulties related to reading.
Problems with written expression can include difficulties with spelling, grammar and punctuation, and with clarity or organization of written expression. Dysgraphia is a term used to describe difficulties with writing.
Problems with math can include difficulties with number sense, memorizing math facts, math calculations or math reasoning/problem solving. Dyscalculia is a term used to describe difficulties learning math facts and performing math calculations.
Homeschooling The 3 D’s: Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia – A Series
Honestly, these diagnoses helped me immensely. They helped me better understand why my children struggled so significantly, and it helped me figure out how to best help my boys learn.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be sharing specifics of what homeschooling with these 3 D’s looks like and all of the resources I have found to be invaluable in truly helping my children learn, just as they are. Here is a rundown of what you can expect in this series.
(This post will serve as a landing page as well, so check back anytime for links to all the information in this series.)
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Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.