Monday, December 31, 2012
Essentials of Dyslexia Assessment and Intervention Book Review by ChristineMM
My Summary Statement: A Book for Professionals - See My Note to Parents
My Star Rating: 4 stars out of 5 = I Like It
This "Essentials of" book series is intended mostly for professionals. In the preface it states, "For the experienced clinician, books in the series will offer a concise yet thorough way to master utilization of the continuously evolving supply of new and revised instruments, as well as a convenient method for keeping up to date on the tried-and-true measures. The novice (clinician) will find here a prioritized assembly of all the information and techniques that must be at one's fingertips to begin the complicated process of individual psychological diagnosis."
Let me underscore this is a professional book for clinicians not a book for laypeople. This book "is designed for assessment professionals, educators, and parents who are interested in understanding, assessing and helping individuals that have dyslexia". Although in that passage parents are mentioned I feel the bulk of the book is for professionals and is about the current way schools handle dyslexia.
The Appendix is over 60 pages long and the reference listing is over 30 pages long. There is a glossary and an index.
I am a parent and I understand the desire that some parents have to find the latest detailed information about their children's conditions so they can be the best advocate they can when working with school staff. I know the book's preface says the book is for parents but I disagree. There are issues that specifically relate to parents that this book does not cover and the book goes too far into detail about school-based testing and interventions, which is overkill for most parents. Parents need to focus on the evaluation, the PPT, and the IEP. For example I feel that parents would be served better by learning their legal rights in their state, learning how to navigate the PPT meetings and what input they can have in making the IEP. Parents need to know their rights regarding testing and may have to seek legal counsel to get their children the best plan. Two families I know were grossly underserved by the public school and wound up hiring an attorney to help get their children outplaced to schools who specialize in dyslexia, with the town footing the private school tuition. Those schools were in over their heads and they were not able to help those children learn to read after years of the school's own special ed plan in the IEP.
Another more basic thing that parents need is general encouragement, such as helping them realize that while dyslexia can make reading difficult there are other gifts that dyslexic people often have which give them superior abilities compared to non-dyslexics. Parents need to hear that kind of thing. See: [[ASIN:1573921556 In the Mind's Eye: Visual Thinkers, Gifted People With Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties, Computer Images and the Ironies of Creativity]]. The topic of [[ASIN:0465047688 Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice]] can also be uplifting for parents to read, even though that has not yet been proven by scientific studies to be "true". Another topic to investigate is visual spatial learners, as this can help parents find ways that their child can study at home to help master the topics such as the book by [[ASIN:1593633246 Visual-Spatial Learners]].
I mentioned in my summary statement this book is full of mainstream topics. You will not find here things which our society prefers to call "alternative" such as the issue of how lacking omega fatty acids in a child's diet can further impair learning, so supplementation with fish oil supplements is recommended by some experts (and is currently the subject of a $10 million study by the US Department of Defense). Other nutritional issues can be investigated, such as possible low serotonin, use of 5HTP supplents, and Vitamin D deficiency/supplementation, none which are mentioned in this book. I suggest parents talk to other parents of special education kids to hear of other topics they should educate themselves on.
This book does not cover other processing disorders which may exist in tangent OR which may be the real diagnosis. After testing by a teacher it was suggested that the testing indicated possible dyslexia in my then ten year old child. He never had dyslexia symptoms or reading problems in the past, but I heard her symptom list to be the same as what I'd heard termed as an "eye tracking problem". After a consult with a behavioral optometrist (schools and teachers, ophthalmologists and regular optometrists do not perform tests for those conditions) my son was diagnosed with convergence insufficiency, a visual processing disorder. He had excellent results with reading glasses with a prism lens and home therapy under the doctor's guidance. I still had no confirmation if he had dyslexia but some of the symptoms had overlapped. Four years later my son had some new symptoms such as difficulty reading for a long time and a hard time remembering what he'd read, and he had a QEEG brain map performed which showed NO dyslexia and NO ADD/ADHD but did show issues with visual processing and other things which indicated neurological damage after having Lyme Disease and high fevers from Mononucleosis. This was treated with neurofeeback therapy with success. I mention our story as an example of how a teacher suggested my son had dyslexia when in fact he never had it, but had another visual processing disorder instead -- and to illustrate the important issue for parents that this book doesn't venture into that territory. Parents need to learn somehow that learning struggles can have overlapping symptoms and that sometimes dyslexia is a misdiagnosis.
I am not equipped to judge this book from a professional level as I am not a trained professional. I did not realize that this book series was targeted to professionals when I ordered it. From what I can see this is mainstream information for schools with a lot of references to back it up. I have no reason to doubt the credibility of these cited works.
From a parent's view I would not recommend reading this clinical book for professionals. I would encourage you to read a book for a layperson about dyslexia as well as a book that celebrates the uniqueness of the dyslexic person so you are not just thinking about your child's weakness. I would encourage you to educate yourself on the laws in your state regarding your rights to services through the public school. Contact an advocate to hire to help you navigate the PPT meetings during the IEP formation process as well as for the follow-up PPT meetings. You need a plan to know if X result is not seen by X date then what, so forth and so on. As a last resort, contact legal counsel if you feel the school is not doing the right thing.
Parents should also investigate other visual processing disorders; get private consults for those, to rule out dual diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Find an expert who knows about learning disorders / disabilities and nutrition who can counsel you on nutrition and possible supplementation. Rule out possible food sensitivities or allergies which can give "brain fog", low energy, or inhibit memory - your child needs to be at the top of their game instead of being further bogged down by environmental factors.
I rate this book 4 stars = I Like It when I judge it from the perspective of a book for professionals by professionals working within the system who want mainstream current advice backed up with evidence based studies. The book is thorough and attempts to be credible and solid by not offering any theories or related topics (nutrition, dietary deficiencies, food allergies). I did not give it 5 stars because it fails to address misdiagnosis or other visual processing disorders which are sometimes misdiagnosed as dyslexia.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Amazon.com's Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on the Amazon.com site. I was not paid to write the review or to blog it, nor was I under obligation to review it favorably.