View Full Version : homeschooling with ADHD and dyslexia

03-05-2015, 06:17 PM
My son (6) was recently diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. We've been homeschooling since the get go, so it's not something that is the result of spending a lot of time sitting down stuck in school.
I'd like to find some other homeschoolers out there who have dealt or are dealing with the same issues, either ADHD or dyslexia or both to find out what worked for them, what their strategies are and so forth.

03-09-2015, 01:22 PM
There was a great dyslexia post here a while back:
Dyslexia/Dysgraphia (http://www.secularhomeschool.com/homeschooling-issues/11764-dyslexia-dysgraphia.html)

If your son was diagnosed for both, perhaps you also got recommendations? Go-to places, etc. that might be able to help you locally? Scottish Rite Masons have centers in 13 states (http://childrensdyslexiacenters.org/About/FAQs.aspx); perhaps one of these centers is near you, and their services are offered for free.

We home educate because our daughter has ADD. Medication, though controversial for some, has been a great thing for our kid. (I also believe kids should be fully vaccinated so take that with a grain of salt.) Even with medication, processing speed in kids with this condition is slow in any but the most interesting subjects. Everything, then, takes a long time. School has to be slowed down and stretched out to accommodate their processing speed and interests.

Logic says that if their attention span is short, then things should be broken down into smaller steps, smaller lessons. Three years into this, and for us, little bits of education spaced over the whole day has been a disaster. We tend to have to go long and deep into each subject or retention is nonexistent. Doing cross-disciplinary work (where a subject is covered in history and science and language arts) has tended to yield better results in our kid. She's able to draw more inferences, make bigger connections, etc. if she sees that bigger picture.

Reading, though, is the first step. Research the biggies in terms of orthographic learning: Orton-Gillingham, Linda MoodBell, even phonetic work like that of Logic of English. Letter reversals happen until they don't, is our experience; going cursive first is one way to avoid the reversal issue. There are a ton of helps too, software-wise, for speech-to-written or text-to-spoken word. Use those too.

But your boy is young, and you have likewise learned of his problems early. Six year old boys are naturally wiggly and reverse letters, but obviously your gut told you there was something "more" than what was normal.

I don't think, at all, that dyslexia or ADD/ADHD has anything to do with a kid's intelligence; it's more like a speed bump in their ability to learn. It's just a different way of learning. As a regular parent, much less a homeschooling one, I see my job as being my kid's prefrontal cortex: I am helping her slow down and organize. Because we took on the task of teaching her, too, we have to best put the work in front of her that she will get the most information out of...and that has tended to be stuff a little bit above grade level, slowed down at a pace of maximum absorption. Every kid, though, is different.

03-15-2015, 04:12 PM
My son was diagnosed with both when he was 8. I was ready to put him in school, and did the whole IEP thing. Where I found....that they would be using Reading Mastery. Which is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Which we had used, but I wasn't real strict on it and he forgot most after a little bit.

So we tried again, using Funnix (same thing, only on the computer.) It worked great. Perhaps some extra time helped too, but because I couldn't skip stuff on the computer, he got it all. And because it was the computer....it wasn't me telling him what to do and that helped also. He is 4th grade now, and still needs some extra reminder of phonics rules for spelling and writing, so we are doing Logic of English, Essentials, which is really reinforcing all he did with the Funnix.

The ADHD...not sure I totally agree with because if he is, he is much milder than his older brother. Independent work comes later with ADHD kids. Typical kids can sit and do stuff earlier, while the ADHD kids need someone to sit with them and be sure they focus. I am still working on it with my 7th grader. We did find sitting on a core stabilizer ball DOES help. They are like a flattened ball, they can wiggle, but not really bounce like an exercise ball. Exercise also helps. Do a few laps around the house or one around the block before you start, and it will be easier.

My dyslexic had issues with math until we started RightStart math. It is very visual, step by step and has made a world of difference. I think in the long run he will be better at math than his siblings. If you are having math issues, see if you can find someone who has it and try a few lessons with the abacus. My son literally did not know how many fingers he had before he started mid 2nd grade. But by the end of 3 months, was doing the addition that had escaped him for 3 years.

Oh, and of all the silly things....my dyslexic son could do Dragon Box, an app that teaches algebra, before he knew how many fingers he had! Because that was a puzzle. not a memorization of facts. For him, the facts came when he could visualize them on the abacus as parts of ten.

03-30-2015, 01:52 PM
Thanks, fastweedpuller and CrazyGooseLady for your advice! I'm very intrigued about cursive being effective in preventing letter reversals. My son reverses tons of things: b,d,p, q, g, c, a, 5,3,7,9,6, etc. If it can be written backwards, upside whatever, he will find a way!
We got him checked out early because my husband has the same two disorders and we saw a lot of the same things in him and as we started our first year of formal homeschooling, the niggling at the back of our brains would not stop. I must have taught him the proper way to write letters 5 times and he insists he knows them, but when he writes a lot of the letters, he'll start where ever he finds convenient, which can be bad if you're trying to make sure you're writing a d instead of a b (he'll start at the top and curve around at the bottom for both of those and a lot of the time, they end up being the same thing). Or he forgets what letters look like. It just doesn't stick in his head.

We home educate because our daughter has ADD. Medication, though controversial for some, has been a great thing for our kid. (I also believe kids should be fully vaccinated so take that with a grain of salt.)
the psychologist said she didn't recommend medication at this time and it would be worth while to see what OT and behavior modification programs do first, which makes sense. My husband wasn't medicated and I have to admit before my son was diagnosed, I was one of those people who thought drugging kids with ADHD was turning them into zombies. Now that I've read so much more about it, I'm amazed. I've told my husband tons of things that he realize describe him perfectly and we'd always written off as just the way he was and are now beginning to wonder if getting him on some medication might be worth it. And we fully vaccinate, too, so no worries :) I changed my mind on that subject over the years and am quite willing to do so on pretty much everything as I come across new information!

The downside to homeschooling with ADHD is that it does make me feel quite trapped. I'd always told myself that if things don't go well or there's a personality conflict or whatever, I can just send him to school. But the more I read about ADHD, the more I hear about the general poor outcomes of children in school with ADHD. My husband did horribly and now has quite low self-esteem and depression. He's seen first hand how bad school can be for kids with ADHD and dyslexia and we absolutely don't want a similar thing to happen to our son.

RE: Orton-Gillingham: the psych we went and saw recommended we find a program like that for our son, but when I went to the website, I saw that Explode the Code was one and it was what we had been using. Did you guys use a specific Orton-Gillingham program? I didn't have the teacher's guide so I may have been doing it wrong, I don't know.

I will definitely look into the Funnix and Dragon Box apps, we've used a few to help and encourage him with 'fun learning.' For him, math is a nice counter to reading and writing where nothing comes easy and he picks up the skills readily, which is nice!

At what age about did your kids start reading fluently or are they still working up to that?

03-30-2015, 01:56 PM
Hi Bobs! I am at work right now and want to answer you fully :) so I will wait until I have time to do so...esp. re: reading, etc.

FWIW I *know* what you mean about feeling stuck.

03-30-2015, 02:02 PM
No worries! I forgot to check in with this forum for a few weeks, so I don't mind waiting longer for replies :)

03-31-2015, 11:46 AM
Hi Bobslaststand - welcome to the boards! Got an ADHD'er (DS 7.5) here. Also, not b/c of school. We've got video to prove it - of him at 3 mos and esp. at 12 months - so not b/c of food either! ;) We don't medicate - but I'm not anti-medication. We tried - stimulants and a non-stimulant. And the side effects were not tolerable. If they had "worked" without causing more problems, we would've used them!

I don't know if my son has some kind of dyslexia going on - he's not really reading (beyond CVC / 1 syllable short/long vowel words and sight words) and he does some (but not all) of the red flags. We were using Logic of English Foundations and I really liked it - it's an O-G reading program.

Here's some websites for reading programs/dyslexia in case they're helpful to you:


www.susanbarton.com (http://www.susanbarton.com/) She's got good videos if you scroll down.

We were thru A/B in the LOE Foundations program. But we've stepped back from regular reading practices for now. One thing I've learned in my research about reading and dyslexics, is the solution is to....teach them to read. :p So I've decided if he is dyslexic and will need slow, steady, phonics based program, it'd be better let him gain some maturity. I've got deadlines in my head - Aug/Sept to start again with LOE. 9 yo to get an evaluation/outside help.

Otherwise, math is fun! Thank goodness. We read a lot of books together (I read to him). We don't do much in the way of table work. We play lots and lots of games. I think games for math is one of the best ways to learn and I have found high interest is needed for retention. Orally, just talking about stuff, is really good. My DS has zero interest in crafts or coloring. So our 'output' or proof is minimal.

If I want him to focus on something - we sit on the floor, he has a fidget thing (or three) and we keep it fairly short (10 - 20 minutes). I might just send him running laps in between. Or jumping. Or bouncing. Exercise ball and mini trampoline are great. He can mess with legos or bounce while I read to him and we talk about it.

Oh - playing pretend games is one of his favorite loves - so DS learned the entire digestive system b/c he pretended to be some sort of food item (gross, or junk food, or something) and we took turns playing the teeth, esophagus, stomach, etc. It ends with poop, of course. Very fun. Any good story he wants to act out - this works great for history/science. Me, 'but Columbus did not get killed by Indian zombies." DS "I know mom, it said he went home, but I'm trying to change it up here for fun."

Anyways, just some ideas for things that have worked well at our house. Plenty of fails here too :o. Hope we are helpful. I think my DH is probably an undiagnosed mild dyslexic. It was his jr/sr high school gifted English teacher who wanted him to get tested. He said, 'no thanks'. She didn't push/involve his parents. It hasn't slowed him down much - if anything, he compensates - at work he's teased for having perfectly worded/spelled emails. He triple checks I think. So I'm aiming for confidence and capitalizing on strengths, rather than too much focus on weaknesses. Most days I think we'll get there...some days I wonder.

The Luminous Mind
03-31-2015, 03:41 PM
My son (6) was recently diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. We've been homeschooling since the get go, so it's not something that is the result of spending a lot of time sitting down stuck in school.
I'd like to find some other homeschoolers out there who have dealt or are dealing with the same issues, either ADHD or dyslexia or both to find out what worked for them, what their strategies are and so forth.
Hopefully the moderators let this through, it's not meant as an advertisement- we recently had a guest on The Luminous Mind that discussed this. His name is Eric Tivers and is a wonderful resource. As one who suffers from ADHD himself he understands the challenges associated and has counseled thousands of people with ADHD. His insight is amazing! Hope this can be of help!

03-31-2015, 04:21 PM
My now 13 year old daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was 6. No ADHD here though.. We are lucky enough to live near Texas Scottish Rite Hospital and she went to their Dyslexia Lab school for two years (2 1/2 hours/day, 4 days/week).
These are some of the things that I did back then:

We stopped all other school subjects while she was attending the lab school. The other two did school while she was in class. If she wanted to participate in something (like a science experiment), I , of course, let her. But, she had no requirements in math or any other subject while she at Scottish Rite. They worked on reading (rate, fluency, etc.), spelling, cursive.
We got a monthly subscription to Audible that we still have to this day. Allowing her to listen to age appropriate books was huge for her. Later, she would read along in books like Geronimo Stilton.
A tablet device. HUGE. We have Kindles. Being able to tap a word to see how to pronounce it or read a definition, sync audible books to kindle books, learning apps, being able to type.....all of these are still a big deal 7 years later.

The program was two years long. She went in not reading at all. Actually, she couldn't recognize most letters at 7. She graduated at 8 yrs. 7 mos reading at a 5th grade level. Her entire personality changed. She was a "walk on eggshells" type personality. We never knew what or when she would be set off. She is much more peaceful now. She is very confident and self-aware.

03-31-2015, 05:30 PM
anyone has a good resource to read up more about ADD/ADHD? I know so little about it but I suspect my twins may have it. It's making homeschooling so difficult so I know I need to find out if that's the issue so we can address it.

04-01-2015, 07:27 PM
Hi Panama10 - here's some resources I've used (books, websites):

Sandy Newmark - ADHD Without Drugs - A Guide to the Natural Care of Children with ADHD ~ By One of America's Leading Integrative Pediatricians: Sanford Newmark MD: 9780982671405: Amazon.com: Books (http://www.amazon.com/ADHD-Without-Drugs-Integrative-Pediatricians/dp/0982671407)


- ADHD Does Not Exist might be a good one if your boys have not been diagnosed before - goes through a list of other possible causes for the behavior typically diagnosed as adhd - in a kind of most likely hierarchy

This is an organization with local chapters/resources and info on their website:

CHADD - Nationally recognized authority on ADHD (http://www.chadd.org/)

This is another good website:

ADDitude: ADHD Symptoms, Medication, Treatment, Diagnosis, Parenting ADD Children and More (http://www.additudemag.com/)

Also - here's a book I like for Executive Functioning type stuff - an issue ADHD'ers have:


Finally, just an all-around book for parents of any-kind-of special kids - might not apply to you/your kiddos, but in any case:


Finally - as a parent of a hyperactive/attention deficit child (whatever the cause - ADHD is the diagnosis) - I'm a little skeptical that that's what you got on your hands - I think you'd have known it/gone looking for help long before 8yo. But I could be totally wrong - you could totally rock as a parent and your boys could have found supportive, active, high-interest environments wherever they've gone...and it's not been a "problem" before now. Here at our house we knew at 3 and when we happened to look at video of DS at just 1 yo (like just before his 1st bday) we were astonished - it was totally evident in the video of him then...

In any case, sounds like you're looking for additional help and resources and that can only be a good thing! Hope this helps!

04-02-2015, 06:35 AM
Thank you so much for the resources. I agree with you about being skeptical. I am too! I will look at the book you suggested and see what else it could be. I'm just trying to figure out what's going on and have had people say "oh probably ADHD". Not knowing Much about it, I'm starting from point zero. It could just be normal boy behavior, specially twins for all I know. Just trying to weed out all things and get to the bottom.

Thank you again!

04-02-2015, 09:17 AM
Also - here's a book I like for Executive Functioning type stuff - an issue ADHD'ers have:


Kayra and others: these books (Smart but Scattered) are really quite awesome, I highly recommend them, lots of tips...and for sure your child doesn't need to have classical ADHD for you to benefit from it.

My kid is not hyperactive, she has the inattentive type of ADD. It wasn't immediately obvious that she had issues. She was so smart but such a dreamer! She still is both of course. As a parent, my goal really is to guide her into adulthood with all kinds of coping tools that she's otherwise not come up with on her own. Organization is a big one. This book has some great tips.

Another book I have found helpful is Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner (http://www.amazon.com/Homeschooling-Your-Struggling-Learner-Kathy/dp/0981938906/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427980571&sr=1-1&keywords=homeschooling+your+struggling+learner). The author's son has ADHD and it is the reason he was brought home from school.

04-02-2015, 01:32 PM
That's how my twins are. They have the inattentive aspect for sure. I'll have to get that book. Thank you!

04-22-2015, 09:26 PM
Checking in again! Thanks for the helpful replies, you guys :) I really like a lot of Dr. Russell Barkley's stuff. I listened to a really long lecture by him on youtube and read his book "Taking Charge of ADHD." I do really wish there was more information specifically on the interaction of ADHD and dyslexia. It's fairly common, enough so that I wouldn't be surprised if eventually they decided it was a different disorder all together.

My son falls more along the inattentive line of ADHD instead of hyperactive. We did finally sit down with him and discuss how he had ADHD and dyslexia and were able to confirm that he is a picture thinker, just like my husband. Instead of having a dialog running through his head, he thinks entirely in pictures, like a movie, which means if he has to explain something to me, he first has to try to translate those pictures into words. This is really difficult for him when he's around strangers and I really do think it gives people the impression that he's retarded :( .

I think it would be helpful to check out the Scottish Rite Dyslexia Center. I think we have one in our area!

04-29-2015, 12:45 AM
We haven't had a lot of luck with OG style curriculum but we have made a ton of progress since we started using Diane Crafts brain integration therapy along with her Right Brain phonics.

04-30-2015, 02:35 AM
Bobslaststand and rebcoola....tell me more about this picture thinking and right brain phonics stuff...I'm curious...Thanks in Advance!!

04-30-2015, 10:15 AM
All I know about picture thinking is what my husband has told me: he thinks in pictures. While I think in both, I have a dialogue in my head. Like I might be thinking, okay I'm going to go make a cup of tea, then I'm going to waste time on the internet *coughcough*. I might even visualize myself doing such, but the diaglog is there.

My husband doesn't do this and when he told me I was like, seriously? None? Not at all? Nope. If he were to want a cup of tea, he would see himself going and making then tea, then sitting down in front of his computer just like you're watching a movie. Then if he were going to tell someone else, he'd have to take these pictures and translate them into words, which I guess has the added challenge of trying to decide which part of those images you include: do you include walking down the stairs, down the hall to the kitchen or just concentrate on the actual action? He says sometimes it makes him sound like he has a hard time finding the words to tell people his thoughts, other times he talks too fast and skips over a bunch of words in order to keep up with the images moving through his head.

But now that he's grown up, he deals with the problem fairly well and just speaks fairly slowly and deliberately.
I googled it and found a wikipedia link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_thinking) (after learning that visual thinking is the more common term for it.) It makes sense that my son is a visual thinker: on his testing, he scored in the 91 percentile on visual spatial but was around 10 percentile on verbal and that sort of thing :(
I've actually become rather interested in All About Spelling. It doesn't seem very expensive and the curriculum review system here says it's OG so..hmm.