Dyslexia and Tutors: A Cautionary Tale

A Cautionary Tale - Dyslexia and Tutors - Dyslexia Training Institute

Have you ever walked onto a car lot and immediately been bombarded, promised the world and left just super annoyed? Me too. Finding a professional to work with your child should not feel like that.

Recently, a parent contacted us and shared a story that we think is important to share with you. Before you read the rest of this blog we want to be very transparent. At DTI we also offer fee-based online and onsite tutoring services. There is a right way and a wrong way to offer these types of services, at least there is if you are in this for the right reasons.

First, if a ‘specialist’ tells you that he or she can ‘cure’ your child or guarantees a certain level of improvement in a certain period of time, your red flags should go up. If the ‘specialist’ asks for a large sum of money up front or you will be wait-listed ‘for a very long time’, your red flags should go up. If a ‘specialist’ tells you he or she has figured out how the brain works, with unwavering certainty, all your red flags should be waving wildly.

Dyslexia and Tutors - A Cautionary Tale - Dyslexia Training Institute

A reasonable and honest specialist, will never make claims like the ones listed above for the following reasons:

  • It is impossible to determine what type of progress will be made in a certain period of time because there are far too many variables involved. Some of those variables include: severity of dyslexia, age of student, co-existing conditions, previous tutoring, home support, school support, buy-in and participation from the student, sessions missed, illnesses, vacations, homework, etc., etc., etc.
  • Asking for a large sum of money up front is questionable in a situation where the match between the tutor and the student might not be a match at all. We have all had students we didn’t click with, be honest, we all have. We only know if it is a match after we actually meet our students.
  • Any time someone tells you to sign up now or lose out, you should walk away. And if you notice that they use that line all the time on social media, then they are in this for the wrong reasons. Yes, at DTI we sometimes have a waiting list, but anyone who has ever experienced a free consultation with us has never felt pressured, in fact they are told to do their due diligence and go home and think it over, meet some more professionals, see who fits your student best.
  • We have a lot of evidence about interventions that help students improve their reading and spelling. We have some interesting scientific research providing evidence that those with dyslexia process written language differently. However, we do not have definitive and undeniable evidence about how to ‘open pathways’ and we do not have definitive and undeniable evidence that one intervention will work for every student whose parent contacts us. Scientists know that the brain is far too complicated to use that kind of terminology. Professionals in the dyslexia community should always include words like evidence instead of proof and usually instead of always, that is the responsible and intellectually honest thing to do.

Trust your gut and your instinct. Watching your child struggle is hard, but it will be worse when you realize that you wasted time and money because you jumped in too fast. Listen to the language your potential professional is using, does it raise any flags? The moral of this cautionary tale is to do your homework, trust your gut, sleep on it, call your friends, and remember, buyer beware.

4 thoughts on “Dyslexia and Tutors: A Cautionary Tale

  1. Marge

    I would hope before you publish an article like this that you interviewed the owner/center and called the center to ask the owner the details, especially before you publish something as defamatory as this article. Personally, I know 3-4 centers such as Linda-Mood Bell that require the same and give a detail outline of goals the child should achieve upon completing the program. One parent calls you, ummm that word throw up a red flag to me for sure if an upset parent is calling, then maybe you should make a phone call and investigate. There are always 2 sides to everything! Just saying!

  2. Jeremy

    In your first line you say you received a “phone call”
    from “A” parent, not multiple parents or people that have
    Used this “specialist!” So, in defense of Dyslexia Centers and Tutors, I would like to see the interview questions and/or information you found out when investigating this tutor and/or specialist, before you wrote an article based off a discruntial parent who apparently is frustrated, but as a business owner, myself there are 2 sides to every story and RESPONSIBLE journalism will not just post “fake” “one-sided” news, especially a reputable organization like yours, i would hope that you did some thorough research before you just listened to “A Parent” and went on a witch hunt for a “tutor” or “specialist” you know nothing about! I am sure you would appreciate the same respect and courtesy before someone wrote nasty things about your organizations!

  3. Jennifer Jones

    The way I read it, Dr. Sandman-Hurley was merely trying to give some valid advice to parents who are choosing a tutor for their child! I can’t see that she has mentioned any specific organisation or individual! I thought it was a good article with some valid points.

  4. Dr. Kathryn Garforth

    Thank you for all the good points you have listed in this post cautioning parents to be cautious consumers. When your child is struggling, it can be very hard to take your time to find the right fit for your family. With the ‘Reading Wars’ in the media so frequently it can be hard to know what the best option is.
    The right tutor should be able to understand your child’s difficulties, explain these to you in a language you can understand and tell you what interventions they think would be best given your child’s unique learning profile. If they can’t do this, then they probably not the right person for the job.


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