Before I became a Certified Academic Language Therapist, I worked in the public school system as a Speech-Language Therapist. I left my career after my first child was born and stayed home until my youngest son began first grade. At the moment I was ready to further my education in the field of Speech Pathology, my youngest son, who was six years old, was found eligible for special education in public school. He met the criteria as having a specific learning disability in the area of reading and written expression. A few weeks later, a private clinical psychologist confirmed my suspicion when she diagnosed him with dyslexia.
After 2 years of special education services, my son made little to no progress in the areas of reading and writing. At my son’s annual IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting, the team recommended the following accommodations: books on CD, Kurzweil, note buddy, and other accommodations to help my son succeed in school. My husband and I walked out of the meeting and subsequently shut the door on the public school. As a parent of a dyslexic child, I found it unacceptable for accommodations to replace remediation. It was unacceptable that not one school in the county had a staff member trained in the appropriate methodology to effectively remediate students with dyslexia. It was unacceptable that the IEP team thought it was fine to have my child become dependent on technology instead of helping him achieve grade-level independence in reading and writing.
My husband and I pulled our son from the public school and began to home school him. During this time, I began to research Multisensory Structured Language Education (MSLE) and the field of academic language therapy. Six months later, I was enrolled at the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center (ASDEC), located in Rockville, Maryland. ASDEC is a program that meets rigorous standards to train individuals in the field of dyslexia therapy as set forth by the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council. I am happy to report that, less than a year after using multisensory structured language therapy with my son, he was reading and writing well enough to enter a private school. The school allowed me to come in during the day to continue his reading therapy. He received MSLE 5 days a week, 12 months a year for 3 and a half years. He is now a sophomore in high school and can read and write independently. His only accommodations are small group testing, extended time for testing, and pencil and paper testing as computer screens give him a headache.
My son is no longer the 6-year old boy who suffered from anxiety and depression and who was scared to come out of his shell. He is now an outgoing young man who just earned his learner’s permit. He took and passed his driving test without any accommodations. He was able to do this because he could read the test. I encourage all of my colleagues to always represent the field of academic language therapy with the utmost professionalism, integrity, and in keeping with the high standards that the Academic Language Therapy Association has set forth. Our students deserve nothing less. As a parent of a dyslexic child, I thank you for your hard work and wish all of you the best of luck in the future.