Distractible and Dyslexic? Help from Carol Barnier

By Kathy Kuhl           Know anyone who is both distractible and dyslexic? I do, and I love to find ways to help them.

Carol BarnierCarol Barnier is a friend who shares my passion for helping these students. She is an author, speaker, and homeschool veteran.

I love her humor, compassion, practicality, and clear writing. As she describes herself, “I strive to have the wit of Erma Bombeck crossed with the depth of C.S. Lewis, but will readily admit that most days, all I really achieve is a good Lucy Ricardo with a bit of Bob the Tomato.”

You may remember Carol as the author of How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and on to Learning, If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Where’d I Leave the Baby?, The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles,  Holiday Social Skills for your Wired Child. or one of her other books. (Click on the links above for my reviews.)

Distractible and dyslexic—and bright!

Sometimes dyslexia and distractibility accompany genius. That accounts for those maddening, frustrating discrepancies in some kids’ performance. Some students conclude they must be stupid, when actually they are very bright. There’s no correlation between dyslexia and IQ, according to NIH. But it’s not usual for ADHD and dyslexia to occur together.

As Carol explains in her recent article in Mensa, “There’s never been a better time to be a dyslexic genius.” New teaching techniques, software tools, and emotional support can help those students overcome that frustration.

She explains:

Most of my dyslexic students are brighter than average, some twice-exceptional, truly gifted kids, 99th percentile kids, with a delightful, even playful brilliance. I often refer to them as “My Little Einsteins,” which is oh-so-fitting because many (though controversially not all) believe Einstein was also likely dyslexic. Dyslexia has even been referred to as “the MIT disease” because it seems to impact so many of their faculty and students.

For the dyslexia specifically, Carol has developed new materials to teaching reading using the Barton System (an Orton-Gillingham-based approach). Her passion is for those wiggly, distractible, impulsive bright kids who find reading tough.

Describing her work with distractible dyslexics, Carol wrote:

I watched Tessa with a grin on my face. This little dramatic diva could have us all giggling helplessly as she entertained us with a story of her own creation. Words were such a wonderful part of who she was, but when those same words were in written form, she morphed into someone almost unrecognizable. Her body would practically fold itself into the book. Her usually open bright face became tightly pinched as she struggled to decode the word she saw. She might simply guess, or she might persevere and truly make it through decoding the whole word, only to be completely stumped by it when it showed up again two sentences later.

Do you have a child like this?

I did too. In my 25 years of homeschooling, dyslexia, ADHD, (and a surprising number of other things) were a challenging part of our daily lives. In the chapter of my life that followed homeschooling, I became the administrator of an 8-person tutoring team for dyslexic kids at a private school. And then suddenly, I had a LOT of children like this.

We used the very popular and respected Barton program. And we were very busy, always hiring, always growing. But for every mom who put her child in our program asking us to take over their tutoring, there was another mom who was trying to do it at home, all alone. I wanted to be there for THAT mom too. So, I put out the word that any mom could contact us, no charge, if she simply got stuck and had a question.

What those moms might need:

  • A confusing lesson explained.
  • A way to turn a lesson into a game for a child who’s losing interest
  • A simple-to-draw graphic that makes it easy to memorize a complex rule
  • A few more ideas of things to try on that pesky b/d confusion
  • To ask a question about schwas or mastery or finding the elusive accented syllable

So many moms want to continue to provide for their own child and they just need a bit of support. I loved being able to provide that.

Now semi-retired, I maintain a small tutoring practice of my own where I work with these great kids online. Turns out 50% of kids with dyslexia ALSO have some serious distractibility issues. This is the perfect mix for me. I love working with these smart little precious wiggly giggly kids with popcorn brains who also just happen to struggle with reading. But I’ve also continued my role as a free and available Barton Buddy, someone you can just call or email when you have a question or struggle in the program. Got a question? I’m happy to help.

I recommend Carol if you need a hand helping your distractible dyslexic learn to read fluently, or if you need a helpful book. You can find Carol at SizzleBop.com or write her at Carol @ CarolBarnier dot com.

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