Letters to the Editor


December 14, 2003

Dyslexia article elicits anger and empathy

This letter is in response to the article in the Nov. 30 Harford section of The Sun regarding Doris and Rebecca Roberts and the Harford County school system. As a parent of three sons receiving special education services through the Harford County school system, I read this article with empathy and, I must admit, some anger. Briefly, my sons - ages 11, 9, and 7 - have disabilities that range from ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome and dyslexia. All three receive various degrees of services from Harford County.

I felt empathy for Ms. Roberts, because I know what it is like to watch your child struggle to read, to write, to do basic math problems, and to not have any friends because they are just "a bit different." I have felt frustration and anger when administration and staff have told me that my child will get better and things will start to "click."

As a parent, it is MY responsibility to get my child the help that they need. I have spent thousands of dollars, that I don't have, on private testing, tutoring, doctors, advocates, and therapy to take to the school system to make them listen. That is my job as a parent, to advocate for my children and I spend numerous hours a week doing just that.

For example, the elementary school that my youngest son - who was diagnosed as dyslexic at the beginning of first grade - attends wanted him to repeat first grade. After the initial meeting, my husband and I felt that the teachers knew best and he should be retained.

After hours of research and reading on the subject of retention and dyslexic children, I found that was the worst thing that we could do. Dyslexia is a not a developmental delay, it is something that he has to live with for the rest of his life and relearning what he has already learned is not going to help him, but more hours in his IEP in second grade would.

I struggled with that decision all summer. I am happy to say that my son is flourishing in second grade and even though he is not reading at second-grade level yet, he is working diligently toward that goal.

I also wanted to state that my oldest son, who is ADHD, ODD, and has Asperger's Syndrome, is a sixth-grader at Bel Air Middle School, and I can't praise the teachers, staff and administration enough. My son was a C student in elementary school and has made the honor roll [in middle school].

There are many resources in Harford County and the state of Maryland for parents of children with special needs. All I can say to parents out there is utilize those resources, and advocate for your children. Trust your instincts as a parent! That is the only way that your child or children will get the help that they need.

Jean Tepelides

Bel Air

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