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Patrice Badami

About Me

Patrice Badami has a Masters in Elementary Education and Special Education. She has advocated for families of special needs children as well as for her own children with special needs.


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Acorn to Tree Family Podcast

Podcast with Faith Borkowsky – Dyslexia

Faith Borkowsky, the founder of High Five Literacy, LLC, is an internationally respected and sought-after literacy consultant, certified dyslexia practitioner, and award-winning author and speaker.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Failing Students or Failing Schools?  A Parent’s Guide to Reading Instruction and Intervention, and the “If Only I Would Have Known…” series of books, conceived as a roadmap for literacy-readiness and success for parents of young children.  Faith was a finalist for the World Literacy Foundation Award for her significant contributions to literacy. 








Faith Borkowsky • 1st Certified Dyslexia Practitioner, Independent Literacy Consultant, Author at High Five Literacy and Academic Coaching


 Faith Borkowsky

Full Episode Transcript:

Patrice Badami  0:02

Hi, this is Patrice Badami, with Acorn to Tree Family Podcast. And today, I have Faith  Borkowsky  She’s a certified dyslexia practitioner, independent literacy consultant, and author of a few books, one of which is called if only I would have known and failing students or failing schools. And here she is today to discuss what dyslexia is and how it affects families and children. Good morning. How are you today?


Faith Borkowsky 0:31

Good morning. Thank you, Patrice. Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder. And it’s neurobiological in origin. It’s language based. So it will affect reading, writing, accurate and fluent word recognition. And it will then also result in poor spelling, and written expression.


Patrice Badami  1:07

Yep, that’s what makes a lot of sense, because I have three children who have it. So that’s that makes me full. I’m just trying to learn as much about it as I can. So what are some signs of early dyslexia?


Faith Borkowsky 1:20

So if a child is a late talker, it usually will be again, it’s a language based disorder. So it could be articulation, it could be just general language ability. There are children who will mix up tenses. There are children who will mix up sounds in words, and this is typical of young children. But when it goes longer than expected, it doesn’t seem to be working itself out. It is a cause for concern. And I don’t think many parents understand the connection between speech and language, and learning to read and write. So in my book, if only I would have known it is geared for parents’ birth, to figure up to seven years old, so that they can spot those early signs and have a general idea of the reading process.


Patrice Badami 2:27

Right? Yeah, I was gonna say that. Another thing to bear in mind, for example, in my case, we have a daughter, my daughter was born early 30 weeks, she also has, she definitely has the precursors to dyslexia. And if you’re aware of what to look for ahead of time, and if you’re reading these books and learning, you could know what to spot before it becomes a problem. Because it does lead to and I taught children with special needs, all different types of children with behavioral etc. When children are not validated and provided with the early intervention services that they need. And they’re, you know, at elementary level services, it becomes something where they end up having self esteem issues, and behavioral issues, and you start to lose them. So it’s really important to learn about all these things. Even when you’re pregnant. Frankly, I’ve been reading books forever, trying to make


Faith Borkowsky 3:25

sure I understand. I’m so glad you said that. Because that’s my goal is to reach people. Right, in the doctor’s office, right, you know, they need to know this information early. What’s more, because as you said, early intervention is so powerful, that it doesn’t have to manifest into something full blown. There are things that can be done. And we could change the trajectory for kids ahead of time, what to look for and what to do. It’s teachable and trainable. Absolutely,


Patrice Badami  4:10

and with the passion that you have to facilitate your child and student with that you can help change a child’s way they even think about themselves. By validating them and giving them support, it’s like you’re giving them a ladder to reach their highest potential. It’s very, very important to recognize, validate and ensure that your child gets the services that they require. And you should definitely consult if you have you know, concerns, you can stop outside independent speech get that done, get an outside independent neurological assessment, because here you can find out articulation, you can understand, you can learn about receptive language, expressive language, receptive is when they take an information process it start to understand it express It is when they repeat back to you what their understanding is of the concept. It is so important to learn these terms. And once you learn them, you’ll have a whole bunch of things in your arsenal to protect your child and support them. So here’s a question: How can parents get their child tested and diagnosed as having dyslexia?


Faith Borkowsky 5:19

Yeah, so I think you just started the conversation. Start with a speech and language evaluation. I think that’s of primary concern. Many SLPs also know about reading and dyslexia, however, not enough, I think he’s getting to be more in the public eye at this point. And so they are really equipped to understand that it is all about the phonological processing. So phonemes are those individual sounds and words, and they do this type of testing to see if children are able to segment words, and blend sounds to build words that they hear and manipulate sounds, this is part of the testing. And that all will impact whether a child is successful at learning how to read. There’s a direct correlation, and one of the biggest predictors is what’s called phonemic. Awareness. And so speech and language pathologists are really the first go to, but as the child starts to enter into elementary school, and they begin the journey of learning to read, and if parents are concerned, as you said, you know, getting a neuro Psych Exam would probably be the next step, because that’s that full battery of tests. But I do want to say that in order to receive intervention, any skilled practitioner could do this without a neuro Psych Exam. So you need the label of dyslexia to be able to get the appropriate interventions. That’s not to discourage anyone. What I’m just trying to say is, it’s not something that has to be done before someone could start helping your child, you can recognize these signs early on. And any skilled practitioner who knows evidence based reading instruction, phonics instruction would be able to then get started with some simple assessing without a form of test.


Patrice Badami  7:45

Yeah, I mean, I hear what you’re saying on that is that, that’s a choice that Because oftentimes, that’s an outside independent evaluation. And I hear what you’re saying one thing is, I just want to just emphasize, if your child is a premium, oftentimes, it’s automatic that they’re going to get that early intervention to try to see if there’s occupational therapy, speech, physical therapy needs, even feeding, which I wanted to mention quickly about feeding and speech. So a speech and language pathologist can also offer a feeding, which means they’re going to see if your child has the muscle tone in their lower jaw, not just to formulate the sounds, as far as articulation and expression. But in order to swallow properly, it’s part of that evaluation if you have concerns, because I did work with a child who was full term, they did have swallowing issues, which actually also led to a digestive piece, and there was a problem there. But with the early intervention, we were able to get her that therapy. So remember, if your child also has an issue making the sounds because oftentimes, if they have a tongue time, there’s a problem eating. So here’s how it ties together a tongue tie could lead to feeding problems and articulation. And this can be evaluated by your speech language pathologist. So that’s something to keep in mind. Again, we had to ask your question, but then I stepped over and I’m going to go back, what are the signs of early dyslexia that we need to notice?


Faith Borkowsky 9:15

So, you know, kids who have trouble understanding and following directions. You know, that’s that sequence of events holding it together, kind of saying a story, but it’s all mixed up. It’s it could be jumbled a bit. I said before articulation issues that go on for a long amount of time beyond what you would expect once a child gets to be four years old. You really need to be keeping an eye on speech and language that hasn’t just worked itself out. And even parents who do go for speech and language therapy, they still need to be aware that if your child had any of those red flags, you need to be very aware that this could be a problem when it comes to learning to read and write. You know, believe it or not holding a pencil, I know this has nothing to do with, you know what we’re talking about with speech and language, but fine motor, there’s a whole slew of things that go on. And most kids who get help for dyslexia also have problems with fine motor. And so you really are looking for a few different things. Sometimes there were sensory issues to directly connect to the reading issue. But it’s really taking a snapshot and looking at kids holistically, you realize that these issues overlap. And so you need to be aware of that. So you know, kids who say, because sketti, again, it sounds cute. But after a while, not being able to pronounce things clearly mixing up the order, not getting the tense of words, like I go to the store, instead of I went to the store, those are the types of things that early on, you should be aware of. In my book, if only Yeah, right.


Patrice Badami 11:33

And as you’ve mentioned, dyslexia is a neuro biological language based issue, something really important going along with what you said, looking at this issue globally, when a child has an issue articulating. And you also notice that there’s difficulty, they have a quadropod grip, they have a different difficulty holding themselves up with their core, it’s very possible that they also have a crossing the midline issue, which has to do with the way they process information on both sides of the brain, when you’re not able to cross over that midline. That’s, you know, ANR, they call that that’s also a piece. So bottom line is the if the child is born early, and they don’t meet these certain milestones, for example, crawling, they won’t get that sensory input from crawling with the hands plus the strengthening of the upper body, which also affects the fine motor, which also occurs along with crossing the midline. And then the speech delays, oftentimes go with that. So these things are, that’s why when your child gets evaluated through the school district, they’re looked at with PT, OT speech, and they’re looking for all these different pieces to put together to say there might be a developmental delay. So that’s why,


Faith Borkowsky 12:48

and you mentioned, OT, many of the students who receive reading help receive speech and language and OT occupational therapy, and in some cases, physical therapy. So you know, it seems like a lot. But that’s because you can’t kind of isolate this, it’s more than just what you see. On paper, it’s really more to it than that. However, as far as correcting the academic part of it, are reading specialist with the correct training, and I’m going to talk about that soon, with the correct training I could absolutely get started and work on decoding, which is the ability to sound out words and encoding spelling without having a formal diagnosis. So you know, we’re talking about how we look at kids, and what they’re able to do. Sometimes we underestimate. And oftentimes in school we overlook. So it’s the other end of this where we’re not recognizing all of these signs.


Patrice Badami 14:12

I was just thinking, I’m trying to break things down a little bit. And I was going to say, another way to look at this in a concrete way is there’s a sapling, you’ll say, that’s your child, you’re supporting that sapling that’s growing into a tree by holding sticks against it, each stick is a service, ot PT, speech, the and then once that child receives that from the beginning, that he becomes used to being pulled out for services, etc. They will think of it as anything different than what they would normally be doing. And before you know what they’ll start growing, and there’ll be these different services that can drop away naturally, that they might not need them. But if they do need them, they follow them through because an IEP is where you keep all of these services. It’s a document that’s legal and they’re able to take that with them as They move on in the different grades and change it. It’s a fluid piece of paper, it’s a fluid document that can be changed. But I urge people to not feel the need to take these services away too early, you need to hold on to them as the child shows with the testing, that they’ve achieved certain goals, then that’s when you keep them as supports, just think of it that way. And I think that it’s a little less overwhelming when you understand that these things are going to be evaluated for you, as part of this whole developmental plan to move forward with goals to support. So yeah, so that’s why we just discussed how they can ensure that they receive these services at the school district level. They’ll be tested yearly in a CSE meeting, which is called the Committee on Special Education meeting here in New York. Elsewhere, it might be called something else, but it’s an annual meeting to make sure the child is progressing. And if they need more support, they get them. Okay, what can parents provide for their dyslexic child at home to supplement their development in combination with school district services?


Faith Borkowsky 16:05

I think it’s very important for parents to know exactly what the instruction looks like in order to support it. So as I said before, a reading specialist with the correct training, and I said I’ll talk about this. So what’s bizarre is there are people who have master’s degrees in reading literacy. And yet they don’t know about dyslexia, and they don’t know how to teach in an explicit systematic way. So just because you might hire a tutor, and it’s a, you know, a certified teacher, or reading specialist, you need to go further and find out what the training is, how exactly are they planning to help your child, because often they do exactly what they do in the regular classroom, which could be detrimental as far as cueing strategies, using strategies that don’t really have the child looking through a word and sounding out and using pictures to guess it words. So even a reading specialist might not have the correct training. So number one, is for parents to really understand what exactly the instruction and the intervention looks like in school. That’s the reason I wrote my books in the first place is so that parents can have a good understanding of the reading process, and to be able to advocate for their children, once they know what type of instruction is being given. I believe the main role for parents would be the practice opportunities, schools have a very hard time practicing the skills that are being taught, there’s just not enough hours in the day, or there’s just so much being thrown at teachers. And, you know, it’s a very packed day. So even though let’s say there’s a phonics piece, these children are not applying what they’re learning enough in school. So I would really urge parents to know what they can do to practice? What are some of the things that they could be going over, giving kids a chance to practice connected text with, let’s say, decodable books that mirror what they’re being taught in phonics. To me, that’s probably the primary concern that I have is that kids are getting enough practice, because practice is everything, moves everything into long term memory. If it’s not moving into long term memory, they didn’t learn. Now


Patrice Badami  19:01

on the other, right, and I was going to say another thing that’s really important, just as a side note concerning IEPs, is you need to make sure that if your child needs an I would check, I would check with what their goals and IP what it says there, but they might need to have summer school as part of their their extension to their IEP to ensure that there’s no regression that they’re not losing these concepts. I have a question for you also, concerning sensory based language instruction, such as Orton Gillingham, Wilson Bell, and then fundations. I wanted to ask you about Wilson and Lindamood Bell, what’s your feeling on that? How does that provide support? And is it something that is something that you feel parents should actually specifically ask for in order to help their children?


Faith Borkowsky 19:51

So that’s a good question. Everything is implementation Patrice. Everything is implemented. shouldn’t, so you could ask for the name of a specific program. But quite honestly, what they should be looking for is a program that is structured, delivered with explicit instruction. It’s cumulative that builds from simple basic skills to more complex skills where there’s always a cycling back with immediate feedback and correction given by the teacher who knows how to deliver it, with lots and lots of practice opportunities. So I don’t think it’s so much a name. So I’m Wilson certified, I’m also trained and in other programs as well, I am Orton Gillingham trains I have sounds right. The most important thing is any of these programs could be delivered poorly, I don’t care what program is, if it’s not being delivered correctly, and it’s not being delivered daily, or, you know, by according to the IEP for the certain amounts of time that it’s supposed to be given, it’s not going to work. And then if it’s being mixed up with other methods, you can have something explicit. But then at the same time, parents are being told, you know, their level book level and to have the parents read these level books at home, where the level books, push kids into looking at pictures and repetitive language, those kids are not going to use the phonics that they’re being taught, they’re going to default to what’s comfortable. And that is guessing based on the first letter, or picture cueing, because you know, that’s what’s easier for them at the moment. So I think it’s very important that they understand the reading process, explicit instruction, what that looks like having an evidence based program in place, not so much the name, but to make sure it’s someone who understands the program deeply, and is delivering it with fidelity and able to make those adjustments on the way that’s the teaching, right? Yeah, be able to know I need to increase something, I need to give more of this, and I don’t need to do this anymore. And now we’re ready to move on. There are kids who stay stuck, even in an evidence based program. I know, kids who’ve gotten Wilson, and they’re in step two, and it’s like two and a half years of just the first two steps. So what’s going on there? You know, we just because you have the program, you need to understand well, are they progressing in this program? What’s going on? Do we need to step it up? Or maybe this isn’t the right program if they’re not improving and making adequate gains? So, you know, I do think it’s more than just getting the program I know, parents get really caught up in I want this particular program, what you want is explicit, systematic, structured, cumulative, phonics, and if that’s what the need is, and then the program, of course, should be evidence based, but it’s all about how that person delivers any program. And if it’s being mixed in with strategies that take the attention off the written word.


Patrice Badami  23:56

Okay, let me write that. I’m writing everything down, because I think this is very important. I’m actually also trained in Orton Gillingham. And I use it when I work with my daughter. I create my own program at home to hit the different phonics to make sure that she’s moving forward, but then going back and making sure she knows it before we move forward. So I understand what you’re saying you need to understood make, essentially, you need to make sure that whatever sensory based program is evidence based, you need to make sure that that person is being consistent with teaching it rather than watering it down and incorporating other methods that take away from what the whole purpose of that that program is.


Faith Borkowsky 24:37

cherry picking parts of it. That’s


Patrice Badami 24:41

right. That’s exactly that’s, that’s a good analogy, cherry picking Great. All right, so tell us what information families can find on your website and your social media. Okay, so


Faith Borkowsky 24:53

I have a Facebook page, high five literacy and academic coaching. I’m always posting There, I am on Twitter, Facebook and I have High Five literacy. I’m on LinkedIn as well, both under my name and my business, high five literacy, Instagram I use sporadically. But I do have a high five literacy account with Instagram as well. As far as getting in touch with me, I have two websites, high five And then I have one specifically geared to me if only I would have known books. And that is if only And I just want to point out that parents not only could get in touch with me, via those websites, but I also have a study guide. So if any parent wants to take the book, and use it with other parents to learn about reading together, it is written in a very easy to understand and accessible way. The book has pictures, it’s illustrated. So even if a parent doesn’t have high level literacy skills, they don’t have to worry because it’s written in a very easy to understand way. And it’s purposely done that way. Because a lot of parents have reading problems themselves. Yes, there is a genetic component, sometimes dyslexia, so I wanted to make this very accessible. And so there is this book discussion guide, so they could get a group of parents together and work on this, there was a group of adults that use this that I know of in the Pennsylvania area and our parents. So using it. It’s also a book that has been used for kindergarten screening. So at the kindergarten, wow, that’s something Wow, parents are getting this as a take home, so that they have a book to read. So as they start on their learning journey, they have some understanding, and they have the language to be able to discuss this. So on that website, I also have another handout that’s called Can you see me? And that’s a way to get a meeting together at school and to start recognizing, as you said, these issues early, and what could happen if children do not get the proper help along the way? And unhelpful? Looks great. Right? And that’s completely free on If only


Patrice Badami 27:43

That’s a very helpful seat. That’s why I wanted to have you on the show. You just gave us a bevy of information. Just so happy to have had you on the show. Faith Borkowsky Once again, she’s a dyslexia practitioner, independent literacy consultant and author of these books. If only I would have known failing students are failing schools. You’ll find her on high five, literate And thank you so much for being a guest. I learned a lot. I actually took three pages of notes. So


Faith Borkowsky 28:14

thank you. Pleasure being here with you. I hope we stay in touch. Yes,


Patrice Badami  28:19

we definitely will. Because I need to learn much, much more about this. So everyone, once again, thank you so much for joining us for Acorn to Tree Family Podcast where we bring you lots of important information to help facilitate your child and support them in their academic journey. And as also they’re encouraging them to move forward and be in charge of their own. You know, their goals and they can have input when they get older. You can support them while they’re younger. Thank you so much again and have a great day.


Faith Borkowsky 28:49

You too. Thank you

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