How parents new to dyslexia deal with information overwhelm and the shock of discovering under resourced teachers

Dyslexia Explored #38

Caron trout

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We go deep in this podcast about how parents new to dyslexia have to deal with the overwhelm of information. Then the shock of how under informed teachers are in educating dyslexics. The need to find outside help and community to find a way through the challenges to the solutions. With Caron Trout, a mother of a 14 year old, who discovered he was dyslexic and became one of the founding members of BVKid from Boulder, Colorado.

Here are some snippets of what we covered.

The Wake up call:  “Another parent said …‘Hey, I think your kid is really struggling …”

The Assessment:  “….I just wish we had sooner.”

Dealing with the overwhelm: “…trying to trust which information is really good … “

Finding help outside:  “…not having good information… breaks your trust as a parent. You’ve got to go outside…”

Trusting under trained professionals: “I really trusted the professionals… Teachers were under-trained and not very well informed… that was also a shock”

Confidentiality creating shame: “…making … learning differences a taboo is really a shaming experience. We need to … talk openly about it.”

Making Dyslexia visible with Role Models: Children “…need to see what being dyslexic looks like.”

Being afraid to make waves.: “I think sometimes we’re afraid to make waves.”

Being alone is hard- Connect: “ I would just like to encourage other parents to connect with each other… Being alone is such a hard place.”

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Top Quotes and full transcription

“Another parent came up to me; ‘Hey, I think your kid is really struggling and not making the progress that he should be making’… ‘One day he’ll wake up and he’ll become a reader. It’ll happen over summer’… But I pursued that. I didn’t really trust that anymore. And thankfully I went and got my kid tested privately.”

“Getting an assessment was a really positive experience and I just wish we had had that sooner.”

“Trying to drink out of that fire hydrant of information is a huge challenge. And then trying to trust which information is really good because it all takes a ton of resources and time. So you don’t want to waste your resources, your financial situation. You don’t want to waste any more of your kids’ time. So you’ve got to act immediately on the information that you have and you’ve got to trust that you’re doing the right thing. “

“After speaking to educators, within the school district and administrators and not having good information, not knowing what to do, being misled, misinformed, it kind of breaks your trust as a parent. You’ve got to go outside of that situation and find the tools and the instruction and the expert help that your child needs. So regaining trust I guess was also a huge challenge.”

“I really trusted that the professionals would put kids first and know exactly what they were doing. I was just a parent and I looked to them for guidance and sadly that wasn’t in place. It wasn’t in place for them either actually. The deeper we dived into the situation, we realize that teachers were under-trained and not very well informed. They didn’t have the resources and the training that they needed. So that was something that was also a shock”

“We definitely need to respect people’s and families’ and kids’ confidentiality, but making all of those types of learning differences a taboo is really a shaming experience. We do need to think about how do we normalize this in our classroom. I mean we have a lot of talk about diversity of all kinds. Having neurological diversity is just another difference We really do need to normalize it, name it, and talk openly about it.”

“They do need to see that some of their teachers have dyslexia, some of their tutors or adults that they admire that are close to them. They need to see what being dyslexic looks like.”

“I think sometimes we’re afraid to make waves and sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet and that’s very uncomfortable and uh, no one feels good about that. But sometimes that has to be done and then you have to move on.”

“I would just like to encourage other parents to connect with each other in their own local community… Being alone is such a hard place to be, for your kid and for you… it doesn’t have to be action oriented, it can just be emotional support… do something that connects you and your community.”

Darius:             00:00:00 Welcome to dyslexia explored where we look into people’s stories, their dyslexia stories. And today I’ve got a mother of a 14 year old, who discovered he was dyslexic and became one of the founding members of BVKid from Boulder, Colorado. May I introduce Caron Trout? Caron is great to have you on the podcast.

Caron Trout:        00:00:25 Hi Darius, thanks for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.

Darius:             00:00:28 I’m looking forward to hearing your story. I know a little bit about your story, but I’d like to hear it all. So I’m going to ask you the usual nine questions. Uh, three main chunks, to hear your, your overall story, the beginning, what was the wake up call, what was the challenge and what rewards have you gained? And then we’ll go into what you learned on that journey, Influential learning moments, your experience of mind mapping, advice to your teenage self, what advice you’d give yourself as a parent. And then the final thing, what kind of tools are in your travel bag? And I’m sure every time I ask people these same questions, the answers end up being so interestingly different. So Caron, where did it start for you? What was it like in the beginning before dyslexia came on your radar?

Caron Trout:        00:01:24 Let me think back. Well, my husband and I were married for about 10 years before we even had kids because we knew that having kids was going to be such a big deal in our lives. But, we actually, little did we actually know that after waiting 10 years, we came back to Colorado and had our first son who was happy and healthy and I was so glad to move forward in my life. There’d been a lot of challenges in the past and I was ready to settle down and have a quiet family life. mended to parents. So yeah, it was, it was pretty normal. I will say though that,

Caron Trout:        00:02:31 on pediatric visits, we really did miss the early warning signs of what we call in America. We call learning differences, which really the main one is dyslexia. And when we went to the pediatrician’s office, we really sort of passed over some milestones that we’re actually quite critical and that we missed. So late talking was one of the milestones that we really didn’t bring up in that office or underline that with the pediatrician. I knew my kid was bright and smart and healthy and happy. I didn’t think late talking was such a red flag. Things like, other milestones; like tying shoe laces or trouble with sounds in words, not being able to rhyme, things like that. I didn’t emphasize heavily enough to the, doctor, to the pediatrician I really missed and he missed. So that was a missed opportunity really. Later on I noticed that my kid was having trouble with sequencing like days of the week. That was probably when he was five, six years old. I knew that he didn’t understand months of the year or, things in order, the alphabet. So those things to me were always, people would, oh he’s a boy, it will happen later. So those early warning signs is a bit of a thing that we missed.

Darius:             00:04:10 So what was the wake up call for you? What was that moment which sort of switched you on to realizing you had a challenge on your hand?

Caron Trout:        00:04:20 Well, we did everything that we thought we were doing correctly to support our kids. So literacy rich environment, all of the educational activities, probably over emphasized on a bit too much of a tiger mom. I think internally I knew that something was not quite right and I was overcompensating. So trips to the library all the time, um, things like that. Always going into the kindergarten teacher asking if he was on track, why is he not making progress with reading? And then it was at the end of first grade when another parent came up to me and parents volunteer in the classroom a lot in Colorado, especially in the early grades to do reading with children. And like me, she was in the classroom a lot listening. So she had been listening to my kid reading a fair amount and she told me after school one day, Hey, I think your kid is really struggling and not making the progress that he should be making. You might want to investigate that. And I immediately went back to another meeting with the teacher again with the same concerns. And the teacher would always say, well, you know, he’s a boy. Boys do things later. One day he’ll wake up and he’ll become a reader. It’ll happen over summer. Things like that. It’s, kinda sad because it stops early intervention from happening, but I pursued that. I didn’t really trust that anymore. And thankfully I went and got my kid tested privately.

Darius:             00:06:14 That seems to be the main way to go to actually get some answers, isn’t it?

Caron Trout:        00:06:20 Yeah. It seems to be a similar story for almost every parent I talked to sadly.

Darius:             00:06:28 How did you go about, you know, working out who to get it, to test him and so forth?

Caron Trout:        00:06:34 Well really parents are a great resource and I found that most of my great information has come from other parents and other parents supporting me. And in our community we have a university, a testing center is, and we were able to get on the waitlist and go there. So that was very helpful to have that. Although it was a long wait list.

Darius:             00:07:05 How old was he at that point that he got tested?

Caron Trout:        00:07:08 So we pushed for testing at the end of first grade. So he would have been about seven at that point but we knew by the time the wait lists came along and he got tested. We had a diagnosis at the beginning of second grade.

Darius:             00:07:33 Okay, What was it like getting that assessment for you?

Caron Trout:        00:07:37 Um, it was great. I was really glad not to be in the clouds anymore. It was really great to have hard information. It was great to have a name. It was great to have a diagnosis. It was great to have expert help. It was like a curtain was lifted and suddenly there were things we could do about it. Ways we could help him. There was a pathway, kind of, some advice. What could we do? Yeah, it was a really positive experience and I just wish we had had that sooner.

Darius:             00:08:17 Yeah. So what was the challenge? I mean often people, you know, when I ask people what was the challenge, it can be different for everyone, but for you, what was your main challenge in all of that?

Caron Trout:        00:08:32 I think my main challenge was trying to regain trust and trying to like drinking out of a fire hydrant. All of the information that comes down to you in that new situation. There’s tons of research, a lot of books to read, a lot of parent advice, a lot of expert information and you’re just trying to assimilate all of that information very quickly and act upon it. So trying to drink out of that fire hydrant of information is a huge challenge. And then trying to trust which information is really good because it all takes a ton of resources and time. So you don’t want to waste your resources, your financial situation. You don’t want to waste any more of your kids’ time. So you’ve got to act immediately on the information that you have and you’ve got to trust that you’re doing the right thing. So after speaking to educators, within the school district and administrators and not having good information, not knowing what to do, being misled, misinformed, it kind of breaks your trust as a parent. You’ve got to go outside of that situation and find the tools and the instruction and the expert help that your child needs. So regaining trust I guess was also a huge challenge.

Darius:             00:10:18 Information overwhelm and trust. Because what I’m hearing if I’m right, is that I think you had assumed that the schools will have processed and digested all of this kind of information and would be able to guide you on all of that. But you realized you had to do that on your own.

Caron Trout:        00:10:42 Yeah, that was a huge shock. I really trusted that the professionals would put kids first and know exactly what they were doing. I was just a parent and I looked to them for guidance and sadly that wasn’t in place. It wasn’t in place for them either actually. The deeper we dived into the situation, we realize that teachers were under-trained and not very well informed. They didn’t have the resources and the training that they needed. So that was something that was also a shock. And I started to see that there was a lot of unfairness and injustice in this situation for the kids. The equity wasn’t there for the kids or the opportunities for the kids. And when you have such a large population, one in five with some range of learning difference, the most common is dyslexia, then you start to that it’s a systematic issue. It’s certainly not personal. So, and the teachers want to do the best job they can, but unfortunately they don’t have the support either. And so you start to see 360 degrees around the situation.

Darius:             00:12:15 Yeah. You talked about resources and so on. So basically I’m guessing that you’ve, you, you had to spend quite a bit of money to give him what he needed.

Caron Trout:        00:12:27 Well, you know, as a parent, your willing to sacrifice everything you have and in that sacrifice, but we were so lucky that there is near us, a private but nonprofits school that has the expert, Orton Gillingham type instruction that’s multisensory that these kids really need to have to be able to learn to read and write and do math in some cases. So we were very lucky that, that, that school existed in our community.

Darius:             00:13:05 Wow. So you took him out for a few years to get him trained up literate through the Orton Gillingham system and other approaches in the private school there?

Caron Trout:        00:13:20 Yeah, we were very lucky to have that. Hillside is the school in Boulder, Colorado. That is the nonprofit, but private school, it’s a partial day school. So that’s quite well thought out really because it enables kids to get their instruction, during the day when they’re most, awake, and least tired. And then the other part of the day they can go back to their public neighborhood school if they wish to to do the other part of their school day so they get to keep their community, but they also get to experience success in reading and the joy of learning, which is really what happened for my kid. So it wasn’t that you know that he got to, it was a lot of things that were quite complex, but most of all what happened to him there was that he found out he could learn, he could read, he could learn to write, that there were lots of other kids like him. It got normalized and he didn’t feel isolated or alone, that he was part of a huge community of kids. That all were sharing very similar experiences. And I think that that normalizing was very empowering for him and it was great for our entire family because suddenly we were not isolated anymore. Suddenly we were having very similar experiences as many other families and that actually is really huge.

Darius:             00:15:03 Yeah, It’s actually one of the things that I’ve seen with a lot of my students is that the isolation is one of the strange byproducts of being dyslexic in school in that for example, as a school pupil, you get taken away on your own and you’re taught one to one and it’s great, but you know, you’re still being isolated as it were. And also parents as well through the confidentiality thing. Teachers and Schools don’t go, oh by the way, Molly over there, her son’s dyslexic as well, why don’t you have a chat? They’re like, we can’t do that because of confidentiality and all that jazz. So it’s, it’s amazing how isolated you can feel eventually.

Caron Trout:        00:15:54 Yeah. And that is really something that needs to change. I mean, we definitely need to respect people’s and families’ and kids’ confidentiality, but making a learning difference, dyslexia, dysgraphia, Adhd, dyscalculia making all of those types of learning differences a taboo is really a shaming experience is shaming for the child, shaming for the adult. Really we do need to think about how do we normalize this in our classroom. I mean we have a lot of talk about diversity of all kinds. Having neurological diversity is just another difference and we need to, there’s so many kids that have and so many people that have neurological diversity of one kind or another. We really do need to normalize it, name it, and talk openly about it. You know why we’re not talking about this in the classroom. It’s the next step. I think that we really need to start taking.

Darius:             00:17:09 What I’ve been trying to come up with an analogy that actually, you know, really helps kids and parents get their heads around dyslexia and that has practical benefits. And let me run this one by you. I’ve been working on this one. Okay. Okay. It’s like dyslexia is like driving a stick shift Ferrari or learning to drive with a stick shift Ferrari in a world where your teachers only know automatic cars. And so you know, your teachers tell the class, go into drive, put your foot on the gas and start moving forward together and let’s all move in this direction. And the kid puts the, the gear into drive first gear. They push it forward, they copy everyone else to go into first gear. It makes a bit of a crunch, but they can put their foot on the gas and they start lurching forward and going and then they just carry on going and it goes up another gear, another gear and other gear.

Darius:             00:18:16 And this kid stuck in first gear just putting their foot down to the gas, revving up going, yeah, yeah. I’m trying to keep up trying to keep up. And they’re like burning out their engine. And really they need to be taught how to drive by a person who knows how to drive a stick shift car. And that’s a dyslexic teacher or tutor? Yes, because they know how to do stick shift gear changes. Now the Ferrari, the cars are no different really. You know what I mean? You’ve got different kinds of cars, but this one’s a stick shift transmission and that one’s an automatic and 90% of cars in America automatic and 10% are stick shifted. And it’s the same with dyslexia. It’s like saying, Oh yeah, I’m a stick shift car, you know? Oh, does that mean you’re stupid? No, I’m a stick shift Ferrari mate. You know.

Caron Trout:        00:19:06 Well, I do. Yeah, I agree. I mean, kids really do need to see adults who are dyslexic around them. Role modeling success. You know, they do need to see that some of their teachers have dyslexia, some of their tutors or adults that they admire that are close to them. They need to see what being dyslexic looks like. Right. And they don’t see that in a regular public school setting. They don’t see that Ferrari inaction. Right. They only feel. They’re feeling the burnout that is happening there. You know, as their gears of getting crunched, they’re feeling that burnout because their effort is, they’re trying so hard, you know, to learn to read, to be successful, to be exactly like all of the other kids around them. And a lot of them are faking it, you know, using memorization of sight words. They’re just memorizing whole books, small books sometimes. Um, yeah. So there, you know, and they are getting burned out. They are getting their gears, you know, crunched because there there’s no pathway for them to be who they are, you know, to be that dyslexic kid with dyslexia or themselves the Ferrari. So yeah, they get to do a little bit more as adults.

Caron Trout:        00:20:44 Yeah. It’s a fun analogy. Oh, it makes great sense. Yeah. I think also I think kids would love that analogy, so especially teenagers.

Darius:             00:20:55 Yeah. Yeah. The interesting thing about stick shift cars, a lot of stick shift cars are stick shifts because they’re specialist vehicles, like a racing car, a stick shift car because you need a stick shift car to be able to change the gears at just the right moments going around corners and doing different maneuvers and things like that. Or with a very big truck you need a truck’s got like 16 gears often more because it needs specific gear for specific scenarios.

Caron Trout:        00:21:33 Yeah. You do see a lot of kids with very unique strengths and talents and in school the focus is really on their deficits and their struggles and it’s tough. Our kids with Dyslexia have so many strengths. Those strengths do start to shine as adults. But yeah, it would be great to have them in an educational environment that would, recognize and bring out their strengths. Like a lot of hands on learning activities, experiential learning, having a growth mindset. All of those, educational models that we find in schools, there are starting to be more and more and more opportunities for those kinds of things to come to the fore. But again, it takes, it takes a different shift in the culture in education for that to happen. And, and in the meantime we have to get there, we have to change that system a little bit to, for example, to give kids the instruction that they need to have to be able to read, so that if one kind of instruction is not working, we need to be able to offer them an instruction that is working for them and is proven in science to work. We need that. So I’m not sure why this shift is so slow to happen or isn’t happening. So that’s,

Darius:             00:23:09 I imagine I’m dyslexic myself and I remember my school, and I’m sure it’s kind of like if a teacher knows a child’s dyslexic and all they know is driving an automatic car, but they also know the child’s a stick shift driver and they’ve got stalled in the middle of the road, which often happens if you’re not very good with your clutch control on stick shift driving, then you can bring out the sheet that says, right, okay, put on the handbrake, you know, start the engine again. Oh, take yourself out of gear, put the clutch and start the engine. Go into first gear, you know, lift up the clutch a little bit, put some gas down, and then feel the bite, drop the handbrake, and then let’s start moving off again. Like if you are an automatic driver and you didn’t know how to do that, that would be kind of like, oh my goodness, is that what you need to do to just start driving again? And it’s like, yes, it is every single time for the rest of your life with that stick shift vehicle. And eventually it becomes automatic. But you need someone to be able to lay those procedures down and that’s what your talking about.

Caron Trout:        00:24:25 Yeah. You definitely, this is where parents come in, right? I mean, when you’re a parent and you know, things are not going right for your kid, you’re gonna try and get your kids needs met. That, what happened to me was that I re what really bothered me, apart from the journey of getting my kids educational needs met, I was really concerned about the inequity of the, of the situation and the lack of educational opportunity for these kids. And so, you know, when, that really bothered me and it bothered me to such an extent that I really wanted to do something about it. And so when, it was time for my kid to leave Hillside, I really felt like we were reentering public school. The public school system again was like going out into the cold, the safety net was coming away. And I really wanted my safety net was the community and parents and normalizing dyslexia for my kid was him being in contact with other kids with dyslexia and knowing that he wasn’t alone and isolated, that he was actually very normal and a lot of kids are having similar experiences. So, I was glad that when I met other parents who were of a like mind as me and one of them suggested starting a more formal group that was action orientated. So that was great.

Darius:             00:26:13 You started a Facebook group as well, didn’t you?

Caron Trout:        00:26:16 Yeah, I did. I didn’t want to have that feeling of isolation that we were referring to earlier. I wanted to be part of that community. So, I took a risk, I took a jump and something I was not comfortable with, I didn’t see myself as an organizer or somebody that should be in control of anything particularly. But I had an idea because you know, as you know, dyslexic people are full of ideas and talents. So I took the risk and started this group and I wanted the group to be more private and closed because I know that parents will only really talk about their real concerns if they feel in a pretty safe environment. So I made the group, private and closed and only added in other parents that I knew who were also in the same school district. And from there, uh, quickly we got to a couple of hundred parents and then started meeting other parents who actually wanted to do something like I did.

Darius:             00:27:28 How long ago was this?

Caron Trout:        00:27:30 That was a couple of years ago and the last couple of years a lot. A lot of work has happened.

Darius:             00:27:37 Okay. So a couple of, a couple of years ago, a couple of hundred people together in this private group. And you’re chatting quite frequently, nearly every day in the group, did you say?

Caron Trout:        00:27:50 yeah, it was a group that was about research, self education, community venting. Sometimes you know, you need to safe space to be able to talk about your challenges. But also another opportunity arose. I really wanted to know what my civil rights were as a parent and what educational rights my child had. And, fortunately, the private school that we had been at organizes regular experts speakers. And so I organized with them for civil rights lawyer to come and do a presentation for the parents in the community. And it was at that meeting with the civil rights lawyer that I met the other parents that really wanted to take some action. So it was good to hear about what our civil rights were and it was good to meet those parents. And, and then things started really moving forward.

Darius:             00:29:00 And is that when you went to the, started doing the kid, the BVKid Community?

Caron Trout:        00:29:08 Yes. One of the brilliant parents suggested that we follow a model that came out of a parent group in Ohio, because we didn’t need to recreate the wheel and we followed their model and code ourselves. Boulder valley kid identified with dyslexia. We created a more formal group and he was a businessman, Michael Busie, and we have a great team of talented parents, um, who are in a quite organized and able to achieve various different things, you know, in their range of talent. So it’s been a good team.

Darius:             00:29:53 I, I’ve, I’ve seen this with other guests we’ve had on board, on the one hand you see the challenge that’s immediate. You know the problem is systemic, that the system isn’t teaching your stick shift child to learn how to drive using a stick shift that they’re just in an automatic mindset and that you’ve got this dilemma. Do I change the system and wait for the system to catch up for my child or do I go outside the system and supplement it? And you’ve done both, you’ve supplemented it and then once the boat is steady started to see how it can change for future kids coming along. Is that about right?

Caron Trout:        00:30:39 Yeah. I mean the work of BVKid has had goals and objectives and we’ve also as parents been trying to meet our own kids’ needs. So, yeah, we’ve been doing this two different kinds of work side by side. Yeah. The wave, the wave of change never catches up to your own child. Especially, if you’re at the front of that, of that wave, none of the, sadly none of the work has caught up to the high school years yet. We’ve made some small gains and some big gains for much younger kids. A lot of, about a hundred parents went to speak to the school board in the spring of 2017 I believe. And that was quite powerful because not only was our committee involved, but the larger community of parents who are facing the same challenges were also involved. But yeah, so it’s been a lot of work on the part of many parents. And if you go to our BVKID, so it’s BVKID.org website. You’ll see the, the work that we’ve done. There’s a good area where it shows the first two years what we’ve achieved there for other parents that might be interested in, in creating some of their own change, in their own school districts.

Darius:             00:32:17 Yes. So people who aren’t necessarily in Boulder Valley can, can see that as an example and replicate it. But then also people who are in Boulder Valley, Colorado can maybe connect with you guys. They may not know of you yet.

Caron Trout:        00:32:32 Sure. And, and also another amazing thing that has happened all along the front range and also in the mountains of Colorado. Other parent groups have formed in various other school districts. So it’s, the model has really connected with other parents and spread. We actually also have Colorado kid, which is trying to change state educational policy or create some or do some work for statewide educational improvement for literacy. So it’s great to spread the work around and it’s great when parents work together and contribute towards this quite enormous lift because changing the culture and education is a huge lift. But we really do have to normalize dyslexia and empower our kids. And I think that that’s also reflect starting to reflect nationally and even globally from some of the stuff I’ve heard happening in Australia and in other areas. So I think that this is one aspect and part of a big start of a big thing that’s happening.

Darius:             00:33:59 Great. Like we’ve just heard from you, I always ask what the reward has been and we’ve seen very much the reward that you, you’ve got from this, that giving to others. But could you tell us a little bit about the rewards you’ve personally got from meeting this challenge head on and what reward have you got so far?

Caron Trout:        00:34:21 I’ve seen how my own kid has been empowered by being embarrassed by his mother, talking at various meetings and at the school district and being the, sometimes the painful voice in the room that has to just speak the truth about the challenges he’s had. It witnessed seeing me do that stuff. But it’s also showing him he can advocate for himself and he can make changes at his classroom level, for example. So he’s very open. He’s very open about his dyslexia. And he’s done presentations about dyslexia. In fact, he’s a yes ambassador, which is, Youth Examples of Self advocacy. It’s a fantastic program that we have in Colorado, which, he’s now an ambassador and he has a couple of younger, um, mentees. He does presentations with other ambassadors at various settings, schools and, and community locations. So he goes out and does presentations. He’s in eighth grade, so he’s 14. So he’s starting to do that. And I think that’s really empowering. So really breaking, so really breaking the cycle of educational failure and just knowing that you’re dyslexic, knowing that that’s normal, not having any shame or guilt about it, just being able to move how that enables you to move on with your life really. So I’m so glad that that cycle has been broken in our family on a personal level. That’s been wonderful.

Darius:             00:36:16 Yeah, that’s interesting. You mentioned that, you know, breaking the cycle and your family, and it’s something that I’ve heard in other interviews. John Hicks, for example, mentioned this briefly, when you get this dyslexia assessment, it’s not just something that wakes up for you, but it can be for grandparents and uncles and aunties and so on who were like, oh, well, maybe I’m dyslexic, et cetera.

Caron Trout:        00:36:45 Yes. And for some people that’s a relief and that’s wonderful. And for other people they just really don’t want to go there. They’ve led their whole lives in a different place and that’s not their experience. So different people have different reactions, but I think for future generations, I think it’s, it’s just going to be a completely normal thing and it’s not going to create the kind of a challenge. I think it’s going to enable people to play more into their strengths.

Darius:             00:37:28 Yes. That’s the first time I’ve heard of it as the sort of interrupting, uh, a negative cycle in, in generationally as it were, and leaving a legacy for future generations, you know?

Caron Trout:        00:37:43 Yeah. I think I didn’t, I was just wonderful. You can’t get much better than that.

Darius:             00:37:48 That’s brilliant. Yes. And I’ve kind of known that when I’ve, it’s funny, but since you just said that, it’s kind of like, yes, that is very powerful and not to be taken for granted. I’m going to be doing an interview this week with a dentist who’s very successful and he’s just about to go and get a dyslexia assessment. He’s a friend of mine and he’s like, oh, I don’t know if I really want to be doing this, but I do want to be doing this and I don’t know if I want to be doing this and this conflict inside. But once you do it, then it leaves a legacy for future generations because you can say unequivocally, my father is dyslexic, he’s got working memory of x, he’s got IQ of x, he’s got a processing speed of x. You know, it’s quantifiable and future generations can go, well, yeah, my, grandfather was very intelligent, but he had a processing speed, slow processing speed or whatever. So let’s move on to the next section. That was great. Thank you very much for sharing all that. The next section is about learning, what you’re learning moments, how you learnt in that process. Because a lot of the parents and tutors and teachers who are listening to this are thinking about preteens and high school and they’re thinking, in this blizzard of information, you know, what’s the best way for me to learn, et cetera. So that’s why we have this kind of section here. I was actually, before we go into, I was going to ask you about high school. You’re facing high school now. How are you feeling about high school coming up?

Caron Trout:        00:39:37 Oh, I feel so incredibly nervous about high school just because those years are crucial for continuing education. Yeah. I know that my kid’s going to be more and more independent and I trust him actually to be independent in terms of being able to advocate for himself, knowing how he learns best, knowing what doesn’t work for him. He’s learned an incredible amount about himself. Maybe more than a lot of other kids get to high school by this point. But I’m still very nervous about high school.

Darius:             00:40:26 It been through, because it’s a whole another set of challenges, isn’t it? What, what do you know about, I mean to you and your parents groups and so on. Do you talk about it? Because one of the things that I’m intrigued by and the whole dyslexia world is that there’s so much talk about the early years, the reading, writing, reading to learn that learning to read and reading to learn. But then high school I go and look for information in there and I’m like, Gosh, you know, there’s not very much there, but maybe that’s just my experience. What’s it been for you?

Caron Trout:        00:41:04 No, it’s a void of information on, on the, on the opposite end. It’s a very odd experience actually. Some of the things that concern me is that even though my kid in America, it’s called an IEP, an individualized education plan, and it’s a Law, a document based in law. It has accommodations are meant to equal the playing field. So all your assistive technology is in there. and these are civil rights to mitigate disability and access the curriculum. Unfortunately, high school teachers have even less training or almost or no training on what disabilities are, what learning differences are. They’re really expecting to see a classroom full of kids that are experts in reading and writing. And some of them really don’t know why a kid can’t do that. High school teachers, like all teachers are very busy. They may or may not get time to look at those accommodations when you have a class of 30 kids or maybe more, do you really have time to know which accommodations go to whom to individualize and differentiate all of this instruction?

Caron Trout:        00:42:34 I mean, it is a great deal of work. So how do you really navigate that as a student in the room? How do you really help support your child around that and support the teacher without that becoming any kind of confrontation? How can you make it feel supportive for that teacher? You don’t want to take up a lot of their time, but you have to, you know, your kid’s going to be advocating, but you know, maybe it’s not going to be perfect. That advocacy that your kid is doing, they’re doing it as we know, they are learning how to advocate. They’re not experts and they’re certainly not a teacher’s PR. So, you know, as a parent you have to really step lightly while acknowledging the expertise of the teacher. They may not know anything about a learning difference and you have to navigate that. So that’s, that’s one of the challenges.

Darius:             00:43:40 Where have you found information on this? I mean, I can tell from, you said you, you’re very, uh, got yourself clued up and you’ve formed this organization, helped found it, et cetera, you know, where have you found information for your next challenge?

Caron Trout:        00:43:58 Um, there are some good websites out there. Wrights Law, W, R I G. H wrights law is a good one for American law. Um, that will help give parents some guidance towards their legal civil rights and such and understood.org is another great website for lots of different kinds of information, maybe not quite as much, legal information and from again from other parents in the group and from being involved in my school district. So every time I meet a teacher for example, I’m asking them questions. I went to all the high school tours and open houses they have for families in, in our area. And I’m asking a lot of questions. So I’m doing a lot of my own research and fact finding.

Darius:             00:45:02 Okay. So a little diversion there about the high school years because many of the people listening to this podcast, because I podcast very focused in on that preteen, teenage year high school scenario because there is a gap in that area, people sharing and I really want to increase that area of knowledge and people sharing and sometimes just listening to a podcast in your car or as you run and so on, as much more easy to access. Than reading through lots of stuff on the web. So going to, yeah, you’re learning journey. Um, what was the most influential learning moments for you in this whole process? How do you learn? Was it, was it people, a group? Of course, you know, what sort of things really stand out for you as learning moments?

Caron Trout:        00:45:55 Well, audio books are great. Oh yeah. If I have to try and, yeah, if I have to try and get a whole book digested, that’s, that’s going to be an audio book. Bite size pieces on Facebook groups are fantastic for me, just because digesting huge long articles takes a lot of time that you don’t have as a parent and also when you’re exhausted parent that had a whole another layer. Social media, in some ways it’s been fantastic. And in other ways it’s not so great. So you have to balance that out. Going to workshops, going to conferences, going to meetings a multitude of ways.

Darius:             00:46:46 Which ones stood out for you? A shoutout for someone who did a workshop or a meeting that you thought, Gosh, that was really important for me

Caron Trout:        00:46:53 Oh, well, well, we’re very lucky in Colorado. We have a gray international, a branch of the international dyslexia association called, they do as a an event called Reading the Rockies, which is a weekend of, presentations and workshops and such. They do that as an annual event that’s been very informative. And also we organize our own symposium. BVkid organizes one for the last two years in boulder that has experts, an intervention motivational expert speaker and we have experts that come on, are available for free to the parent community. And also this year it had a teenage kid panel that was, answering questions for elementary aged kids, which was extremely well attended and a lovely, empowering thing for kids on both sides of that equation. Yeah. So, we hope that there’s going to be another one, in the fall of this year, so that’ll look out for that. in the, in the community, it’s at the local university. So we have a BVKid Symposium.

Darius:             00:48:20 Brilliant. Mind Mapping. What’s your mind mapping story? I’m fascinated by different people’s mind mapping experiences obviously because I’m passionate about mind mapping. So what’s your experience of mind mapping been through this journey?

Caron Trout:        00:48:34 Oh, well my husband’s actually used it quite a lot with um, our teenage son. We’ve, use it in, in various kinds of ways. So most of all it’s been around writing papers and essay writing of different kinds, different types of papers and we’ve used it as a tool and in that way. Well, we mainly do it by hand sometimes on occasion we’ll download some sort of graphic organizer that gives you an outline, for a specific type of writing goal that you want, like a compare and contrast paper or expository writing or something like that. But, but really we use it to write down creative ideas and how you’re going to support them. It’s kind of interesting because using mind mapping and organizing on paper is really a reflection of your own thinking and really it gets to be a tool for your executive functioning. Really personally, I feel like if I’m writing stuff down and organizing it, I’m really organizing my own thinking and that leads into my own processing. And also you get into things like sequencing your making judgments as you go along, you’re assessing your information. I’m really, it’s quite powerful in, it’s really a multi-sensory type of tall, I feel like, because when you’re, often, you’re talking to yourself as you doing it or talking to, you’re talking to your kid, you’re both working together on something. So yeah, it’s been, it’s definitely a tool that we use.

Darius:             00:50:44 Brilliant. How did you learn?

Caron Trout:        00:50:47 I think intuitively just intuitively. I think you just get a piece of paper and you’d just start organizing things, writing things down, creating your bubbles and your lines and your, you know, your main points and get your color coding out. And, so really it kind of intuitively comes up I think.

Darius:             00:51:10 Brilliant. Brilliant. Thank you. That’s great. Next question. What advice would you give your teenage self now that’s often if you’re already dyslexic, are you dyslexic?

Caron Trout:        00:51:24 Well, I think I’m, I’ve never been clinically diagnosed. My thought is that I’m mildly dyslexic and I have terrible spelling.

Darius:             00:51:33 Okay. In my experience when someone says mildly dyslexic, then that means they’re moderately dyslexic. And if someone says they’re a moderate dyslexic, then they’re probably extremely dyslexic. My daughter, we thought it was mildly dyslexic and was actually told by an educational psychologist. He looked at her and said, look, she’s just got some treats. She’s not that dyslexic, she’s not dyslexic. And we were like, well, my wife was going through cancer at the time. We decided not to pursue it any further. And we got her done properly just a year ago. And no, actually two or three months ago. And she’s extremely dyslexic. And we were like, oh my goodness, me. And what we thought were just mild traits or the very significant dyslexia, much more significant than myself, for example. So anyway, so mildly dyslexic. So then you’re the one then aren’t you? He’s got it from you probably then.

Caron Trout:        00:52:32 Well, I think my husband also. He’s dyslexic as well. Yeah. He’s maybe read one book. He’s entire life. So he really does not like reading at all. I read much more than him, but also he has so many amazing strengths that you associate with dyslexia. He has a very problem solving engineering, you know, brilliant creative ideas. So he much more fits that part of the profile. I just can’t, I just can’t spell and I am so tired when I read. and I have to reread for comprehension. So I’m rereading things maybe three times before I fully get the comprehension, especially if the language is different. Like if it’s about art history and I don’t really familiar with art history language, it takes me three reads to really get the comprehension. But, but you were going to ask about advice.

Darius:             00:53:42 Yes. So if you were to give advice to a teenager, what would you say?

Caron Trout:        00:53:46 Well. For any teenager really it would be the same kind of advice. I would, I would say trust yourself. It’s very difficult when, when teenagers are just coming to so many new experiences as a more mature person. But just listen to your inner voice and trust yourself as much as possible. Ask for help. Don’t be worried about asking for help and support. And if that adult that you’re asking is not listening, move on to another adult that will help you. You know, don’t, don’t waste time trying to convince an adult if they’re not willing to help you and support you. Just find another one. You know, life is too short. So apart from believing in yourself and listening to your, you know, your inner voice and asking for help, Do that in a courteous and professional way. and do your own research and, you know, use Google. Find out as much as you can about what you need help with. People will often meet you where you are. So be courteous and professional as you can be in order to get the help you need, an advocate for yourself and also help others. If you say that other kids around you are acting out and behaving badly, you know, think a little deeper about what is that about? Maybe you can be helpful. Um, don’t underestimate your own ability to create change in a situation. So I mean, that’s what teenagers love to do, right? So they love to be independent. So empower yourself and you know, step up and, and do that for yourself. So, yeah. Yeah.

Darius:             00:55:57 And advice to yourself as a mom, if I was to send you a card in six months time or you were to send yourself a card with a six month delay and it had a message on the front and on the inside, what would it say?

Caron Trout:        00:56:15 Well, I would say, parents and to myself, you need to forgive yourself for all the mistakes that you make a move on. You know, you can learn from your mistakes, but you also have to forgive yourself that you, you know, you go through this process of grieving for your kid and for all of the mistakes that you’ve made along the way. Forgive yourself. And also, um, don’t worry about speaking the truth about situations. People find that very uncomfortable. Um, you can be diplomatic and you can be kind about it, but you have to not worry. Let that flow over you about speaking the truth about your situation. Don’t let that stop you from advocating for your kid and getting what you need. I think sometimes we’re afraid to make waves and sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet and that’s very uncomfortable and uh, no one feels good about that. But sometimes that has to be done and then you have to move on.

Darius:             00:57:31 Yeah. Sometimes you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. Okay. I’m writing that down on. Got a cracked egg with a sad face. Okay. So that’s, that’s wonderful. So final questions. We’ve covered a lot here, but, it’s often useful to know what kind of tools you have in your travel back on this journey. What kind of apps or I don’t, you talked about organizers there and PDFs and resources and things like that that come to mind that you would recommend to other parents of teenagers and preteens that moment. What are you using?

Caron Trout:        00:58:20 We use a lot of audiobooks. My son’s become pretty good at voice dictation. I think that is actually a real skill that you have to acquire because speaking sentences doesn’t necessarily sound so good to a reader. So I’m thinking through a complete sentence and dictating that becomes a skill that you have to really develop. Because again, that comes down to your executive functioning. Can you form a complete sentence? Is that sentence is going to sound good within a paragraph. How is that going to become a sensible and within the context of the paper that you’re writing? So that’s his real skill. Um, Google classroom has been great for us because because of the executive functioning and the ADHD, losing papers, losing homework, tracking everything, it’s huge. It’s so hard. What is Google classroom? Google classroom is a tool that they use here locally in our school district in our schools to communicate with kids to put homework, a place where kids can do their homework online so they can submit it online without having to have a paper that they have to return to school. So you know, when they’re typing out their homework or when they’re doing, note taking or, or quizzes or presentations or Podcast that some, one of the times they had to do a podcast, create their own Podcast, they can submit all of that through Google classroom. So they didn’t have to remember five things to take back to school the next morning. And also my son has this thing called read and write bar, which I think is on a Chromebook. I’m not actually quite sure, but he uses all of those tools for spell check and word prediction and voice dictation, things like that.

Darius:             01:00:31 What did you learn all this stuff from, from a dyslexia teacher or yourself? I mean how much, how much have you relied on tutors and all of this?

Caron Trout:        01:00:41 Well, all of their information about assisted technology is really online on understood.org or you can just Google that and you can find a ton of information more than you could ever want about assistive technology. There’s a thousand voice to text, um, apps out there that the actual challenge around all of that is trying to streamline it and pick out the tools that are relevant for you. Going back to the, audio because I just wanted to mention about the audio books. Actually my son listens. He listens to audiobooks at more than the regular speed. He cranks the speed up to two or three times the speed for those audio books so he can listen and get information faster that way than just normal speaking rate. So he can, I think that’s more important as you get into the high school years because you’ve got to do a lot of reading and you only have so much time. So cranking the speed up on audiobooks and still getting the comprehension is a skill that you can acquire with experience over time.

Darius:             01:02:12 Yes, I do that often go up to two times or two and a half times and it’s just slightly too fast for me to understand. And once I’ve got to that speed, I then drop it down one notch and then I can understand it. That’s what I teach my students to do with my own videos. In fact, I say, you know, go double speed, push yourself to try and understand that at that speed and then drop it down a little bit and then you feel, oh yeah, I can get that.

Caron Trout:        01:02:42 Yeah. And it just depends on what you’re listening to and what you’re familiar, If you’re familiar with the content, you could probably get through it quicker. So yeah, it just, it depends on, on what the content is.

Darius:             01:02:56 Well, Caron, that’s been brilliant. That’s been a long, long chat to so much you’ve shared. Thank you so much. Is there anything you’d like to share finally with, the listeners, anything else that you’d like to chip in that isn’t part of all these questions I’ve asked?

Caron Trout:        01:03:14 Well, I guess I would just like to encourage other parents to connect with each other in their own local community. I think that’s really empowering. Being alone is such a hard place to be, for your kid and for you. So if you connect with other parents and do something that meets your own needs, whether, you know, it doesn’t have to be action oriented, it can just be emotional support. It can be whatever you need it to be. But I would just encourage others to not be alone, to get out there, to do something that connects you and your community. And it’s really, it might be really great. So I would just encourage that

Darius:             01:04:05 and Facebook groups. Is that useful way of doing that now still?

Caron Trout:        01:04:08 Well, it has been for us. It just depends. I mean, you’re probably not listening to this podcast if you’re not on some sort of social media or internet or something. But I think that can be a very powerful tool to combat, confidentiality in the isolation that happens there. I think in person is awesome too. Like the YES program for my kid going around and speaking about dyslexia to other students, you know, face to face. The most powerful moment for us was when he sat down at a YES program presentation and parents of very little kids came up to him and started asking him questions about technology in a lot of things. But really what they wanted to know was can my kids survive this journey? Is My kid going to be okay? And, it was very powerful to have that in a face to face interaction. are very, very meaningful. So in whatever way suits you, whether it’s social media or connecting in person, in whatever circumstance. Yeah. Just connecting with other people is great.

Darius:             01:05:30 Yeah, I’m in, I’m in Scotland here. There’s lots of local groups in Scotland through dyslexia Scotland. And that’s been one of the interesting ways that they’ve done things is intentionally had local chapters as it were of the group so that people are in close proximity to each other and it is very helpful. So Caron, thank you very much for jumping on the podcast and sharing your story. It’s been great. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Well, maybe we’ll here you again maybe in a year or two and you can maybe update us on, on how high school has gone and what the high school changes been between now and then.

Caron Trout:        01:06:26 Yeah, that would be wonderful. I just hope all my hair isn’t completely gray. It’s good. It’s a good job. This isn’t a, this is a podcast and not a skype interview

Darius:             01:06:38 well, I have to say if you’re doing all of that executive function type stuff, you are totally on the right track. I mean, that’s some impressive stuff at age 14 to be doing and getting them ready for high school. So I think that you’ve got a good, strong foundation there with all that stuff that you’re doing with the, the mind mapping, the Google work, the voice dictation, the audiobooks. Brilliant. Many children don’t start learning all of that stuff until they’re about 13-16 but it starts, he’s got a head start, which is great.

Caron Trout:        01:07:18 Yeah. That’s, it’s, it’s good. It’s good.

Darius:             01:07:21 Well, see you next time, Caron.

Caron Trout:        01:07:24 Okay. Thank you so much. Take care. Bye.

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Darius Namdaran

Darius Namdaran

Darius is a teacher and MD of BulletMap™ Studio. He's passionate about helping dyslexic children, and their parents, get through High School with their confidence intact. From his own experience with dyslexia and raising children with dyslexia he has developed an online training business designed to equip and encourage dyslexic teenagers in their journey through High School.
His company produces Mindmap videos full of tips and encouragement to help understand dyslexia and to thrive in High School.
He is the designer and senior tutor of the first Mind mapping course for Dyslexic Teenagers called the BulletMap Method.

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