Overcoming Dyslexia: Maddie’s Diary (A Live Case Study)

Meet Maddie, a 10-year-old who has been diagnosed with severe dyslexia, moderate dyscalculia, ADHD, and low IQ (low 80s). We have chosen Maddie to be a live case study. Starting on March 12, 2018, we will post at least one update per week on our Facebook page, and also copy that update on this page.

Maddie’s Diary – The Beginning 

Maddie was in public school for kindergarten for two years, but because her reading was so low she was retained. The school offered her no additional or specialized help, so she was pulled out of school and homeschooled. Eventually she was diagnosed as profoundly dyslexic. In fact, people who have evaluated her have said that they have never seen dyslexia as severe as this before. Her parents have been told by more than one professional that Maddie will probably never read, and that they should try to find things that Maddie can be successful with outside of academics, because she will never be successful in academics.


Her mom, Kimberly, refused to accept this and has worked tirelessly to try to help Maddie, with little success. Many interventions later, including an Orton-Gillingham-based program, specialized tutoring, speech therapy and visual therapy, Maddie is now able to sound out words, but she does it slowly and painstakingly, and even though she works on fluency every day, she has very little to no fluency, even with simple CVC words. She continues to guess at words, even when reading words that she knows phonetically how to sound out, so she makes a high percent of errors when reading. Also, there has been very little improvement in directionality issues, BDPQ reversals, naming problems, and overall language, vocabulary, and verbal skills.


“At this point, I have tried so many different things with little to no success that it is hard NOT to believe the professionals telling me that she is just never going to be able to read,” Kimberly told Edublox.  


Below is a video of Maddie reading unprepared from a book, a Second Grade Reading Word List, as well as a Third Grade High Frequency Word List.



Below is a sample of her writing:



Maddie wrote this story a few days ago:


The hunt

The mom cheetah (her mom spelled that for her) and her cud (cub) is going on a hunt. they are going to hunt for mise (mice). The cud (cub) has fond (found) a mase (mouse). She is going tor (toward) it. She is going to ete (eat) it. her mom is qrod (proud) fo (of) her cud (cub), but she must len (learn) hou (how) too (to) rely (really) hunt..


An example of Maddie’s math work:


Maddie’s Edublox program

A program has been customized to address Maddie’s deficits. Kimberly will be working with her for 2 hours per day, 5 days per week X 13 weeks. Part of Kimberly’s work will be to supervise the Edublox Online Tutor Reading exercise. An Edublox tutor will teach Maddie via Skype for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week X 13 weeks, and 40 minutes per day, 5 days per week X 13 weeks will be spent on the cognitive exercises of Edublox Online Tutor — Maddie will do these cognitive exercises on her own. After the 13 weeks the amount of work will be reduced to one hour per day. To improve Maddie’s vocabulary a language exercise will be implemented, which does not require any active time.

Our first official day of the Edublox system, and Maddie really enjoyed it! Her favorite parts were the online system and learning new words! She said learning the “new, hard words” was fun. Her least favorite part was math. She said it was “really hard”, but I liked it because I could tell that it was really making her think.


I love the directionality exercises and the bdpq exercises. We have done some similar to these in vision therapy (which we did for almost a year), but not to this extent, and they never reached the point of automaticity that we will be achieving here.


The exercises are very well designed, they are multisensory, and I am very hopeful that they are exactly what we have been missing. I am SO excited that we have finally found something that I think is really going to work after having tried so many things that have failed!

Today went even better with all of the activities and exercises. Maddie is really working hard, and it shows. She has been interested in reading EVERYTHING today! She is even trying to read over my shoulder as I am typing this  and that is a first! She was recognizing words all over the place when we went shopping today.


The only problem is that she is still not attending to small differences in words. For example, she noticed the word “Women” and was really excited, but she read it as “woman”, which is one of the words she is working on. She also noticed the word “vegetable” but she read it as “vegetables” for the same reason. I pointed out the difference between the word and what she read it as (and I told her the correct word), but I am concerned that she did not notice the difference herself. Later today, she noticed the word “oranges” and read it correctly, and she was very excited as she pointed out that she could read it.

Our first week of Edublox has been an adventure! We are trying and doing new things, and they all seem to be just what we needed. So far, I haven’t seen any huge results, but Maddie does seem to be a LOT more interested in reading. She also is noticing the words that are all around her, and have been all of her life, though she has taken little notice of them. Most of the time, when we are driving or walking through stores, she takes no notice of signs or anything, but this week, she has been interested in so many of them. I have been very surprised! A lot of them she has been able to read, though some she has needed help on. I think that it is just a confidence and awareness that maybe she COULD read those words now, whereas before, she felt like there was no use in trying.


Maddie has always been a hard worker, and she is working very hard at all of the exercises in Edublox. She LOVES the computer portion of the program, and she loves how supportive and encouraging it is. She is always telling me the nice things that it told her about how well she was doing, and I think it really boosts her confidence to see how much she is progressing from day to day. She actually seems to enjoy almost every portion of the program, but I think her other favorite part is when she is learning new words with Susan. I would say that her least favorite part of the program is math, but she still works hard and does her best, and she loves seeing how far she has come and how much she is learning!


Kimberly, United States