Brayden Burger spelled nonsense words, such as slock, hilk and smick, on an erasable board during a tutoring session Monday afternoon.
After he wrote each word, his tutor, Jill Mayfield, quizzed him about his spelling choices.
"Perfect," Mayfield responded. "Good job."
Next, she asked him to read words that ended with the same sounds as the nonsense words: clock, milk and brick.
Brayden, 11, was diagnosed with dyslexia as a first-grader. Dyslexia is a learning disorder related to reading, but it may also affect comprehension, spelling and writing.
Until recently, there was no outpatient therapy facility in Owensboro that offered tutoring for children with dyslexia, so Brayden's mom, Stephanie Burger, drove him to Bowling Green twice a week for sessions. They made those trips for more than two years.
"He was exhausted from it," Burger said.
In an effort to reduce their stress level last year, she decided to make the trip to Bowling Green once a week and use video conferencing for the second session. But video conferencing required Brayden to be extra attentive. After a long day at school, that wasn't always easy.
All those problems have been resolved now. Simply Therapy, which provides pediatric speech and occupational and physical therapy for children, recently added dyslexia tutoring sessions to its services.
Brayden attends one 45-minute session per week at Simply Therapy.
"It's a relief because we can get quality tutors and a quality education for him without leaving Owensboro," Burger said.
At this time, Simply Therapy, 3117 Alvey Park Drive W., has four tutors for dyslexia. Because the need exists, two more may join the team soon.
Mayfield is a special education teacher at Highland Elementary School. In 2008, she was trained in the Orton Gillingham method, which is used to teach students who have difficulty with reading, writing and spelling. After finishing her day at Highland Elementary, she offers tutoring sessions at Simply Therapy.
Simply Therapy co-owner Jill Payne said there is a waiting list for dyslexia tutoring services. When Simply Therapy moves to its new location at 1512 Frederica St. early next year, Payne hopes to expand the program.
Simply Therapy also offers dyslexia screenings for children ages 4 to 12;
See Dyslexia/page d2
however, screenings are not considered a diagnosis. That must come from a psychologist.
Thanks to special accommodations and efforts at Audubon Elementary School and private tutoring sessions, Brayden's reading gap has closed.
"The only area of concern now is fluency," Burger said.
Each child's dyslexia journey is different, she said.
Burger recognized differences in her son during kindergarten, but she assumed it was related to his maturity level. During Brayden's first-grade year, however, Burger noticed he struggled to read high-frequency sight words like how, who and the.
She knew something was wrong and started looking for answers and solutions.
Looking back on Brayden's early childhood, she sees other symptoms of dyslexia were present, but many of them were easy to assign to other causes.
People tend to think dyslexia can be detected if a child transposes numbers or writes letters backward. The disorder often manifests itself in other ways because it affects the way the brain processes language.
For example, Brayden had trouble pronouncing some words. Children with dyslexia may scramble words with several syllables, such as helicopter or spaghetti.
He couldn't follow multiple-step instructions. He struggled to figure out left from right.
He couldn't tie his shoes. He seemed disorganized and messy.
"Early intervention is key," Burger said. "I knew if I could get this early he would have a better chance at succeeding."
For more information about dyslexia tutoring services at Simply Therapy, call 270-683-9992.
Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, email@example.com