Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The App Making a World of Difference for my Dyslexic Kids

Since making the decision to leave the world of public school and the special education system, I had to find a way to provide the resources my children needed on a tiny budget. I have 6 school age children. Four were internationally adopted, so we have had the ESL aspect to consider for them along with their many learning disabilities. Five of my children were on IEPs by the time we finally made it out of public school with what remained of our sanity.
I won’t lie. Its one thing to research and advocate as a parent-member of an IEP team, its entirely another to be the only one responsible for calling the shots. I was beyond frustrated and disappointed at the lack of progress my children were making in public school, but bringing them home meant that I became the one responsible for ensuring just that.
We just successfully completed our first year of homeschooling in June, and per the laws of our state, I had an evaluator come out and test my kids for adequate progress. I was beyond pleased at the results, particularly in reading!  W who was on a Specific Learning Disabled IEP and in reading intervention went from reading on a beginning 2nd grade level to a 7th grade level. D who was stuck and frustrated to tears on a Kindergarten reading level is now reading on a 3rd grade level. 
I attribute this to a fantastic app I found through a reader comment on my blog. Its called Learning Ally. Learning Ally has thousands of pre-recorded books for visually impaired and Dyslexic individuals to access. The books that have VOICEtext show the text as its being read with the current sentence highlighted. The user can change the text size, background color, highlighter color, and text color. Because many Dyslexic kids are able to read better with color overlays, this is a fantastic feature. The app also allows the user to slow down or speed up how fast the book is read to them. Some of my kids’ with processing issues or visual impairments cannot keep up with a typical read-out-loud speed, so they can set the speed to super slow to allow their eyes to keep up with what they are hearing.
Before a reader left a comment on my blog (THANK YOU!!!) about Learning Ally, I had no idea it existed. I want to share with other parents what a fantastic app this because it truly has been life changing for my kids to read books on their maturity level without being stuck at their reading level.
My kids have been discussing the Little House on the Prairie series, Moby Dick, The Jungle Book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Aesops Fables, Frog and Toad, The Origami Yoda series and many more! Learning Ally has turned reading from a frustration into a joy!  Everyone with a Dyslexic or visually impaired child should know about this.
There is a very quick and easy qualification process required to ensure that the child does have a disability that requires this type of adaptive technology. An IEP, an evaluation from a reading specialist, or some other type of evaluation diagnosing their difficulty with reading will suffice. The yearly fee can be waived for those who can prove a need for financial assistance.  


Emily said...

This makes my heart sing! I am so happy it made such a big difference for you. It made such a big difference for my K, too.

Elliot said...

I'm not sure what sort of access your kids have to the internet or computers, but there's an extension for Chrome (the browser) called "Visor." It provides a color overlay for the browser screen (changeable via red/green/blue sliders, and a slider that turns things to grayscale). It also has a lighter horizontal bar that follows the cursor, so you can "highlight" the area you're reading and make it easier to focus on a paragraph or line (the vertical width of the bar is also adjustable so it can be nonexistant or as tall as you want/need it). It also works on Google Docs, so the line you're typing can be highlighted to help with visual focus, while the rest is darker (and the color tint of your choice). I haven't tried it with Google Sheets or Slides or any other programs they offer, but hopefully it would work there too since it works on Google Docs. Plus it's free, which is awesome.

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson