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Help... Our Daughter Has Dyslexia!

Updated on May 10, 2014

If Dyslexia Had A Face; I'd PUNCH It!

That's Me... Punching Dyslexia in the Face!
That's Me... Punching Dyslexia in the Face!

How smart is TOO smart?

Our daughter goes to a private school designed for gifted children. It's a brilliant program, but rigorous on an academic level, and sometimes I worry that I won't be able to help her understand some of the homework–and she's only in the first grade.

This is my super cool kid with the crazy eye. Good thing it's not as crazy as her mom!
This is my super cool kid with the crazy eye. Good thing it's not as crazy as her mom!

You can't overcome an obstacle until you know it's there.

As parents, we never want to see our children struggle–and we certainly never want to believe that there's something wrong with them. So when our daughter started showing signs that she was struggling with phonics, reading and math, it would have been easier to say "she's just not ready" and pull her out. But what message would that have sent to our girl? That when life throws you a curve ball, you hide under the bleachers? We've worked very hard to give our daughter the best that life has to offer–and giving up because we hit a wall just isn't how we roll.

And we're not about to start now.

"Here's looking at you, kid."  ~Casablanca, 1942
"Here's looking at you, kid." ~Casablanca, 1942

Problems rarely show up in black and white.

For as long as I can remember, she's always had a problem with her right eye. When she was a baby, I used to call her "Left Eye Lopes" (RIP) because her right one was always closed. As she got older, I noticed that sometimes her right eye had a mind all its own, and whenever she zoned out while looking at nothing, it would drift away just as a ripple in a wave until something made it come back. The crazy thing was that no one else noticed it; not her father, not her teacher, not even her grandma who couldn't stop staring at her sweet and tranquil face. "How can you not see that?" I'd ask, pointing to the crazy eye. But each time, my voice would call it back to shore, and by the time they'd look over, it was perfectly normal again.

At two-years-old, I took her to an eye doctor to test her vision. I mentioned my concern over the crazy eye, and was relieved to hear that although he "could see what I was referring to," there was nothing to be concerned about. But when he asked me to "come back in six months for a follow up visit," I began fumbling with my keys in a last ditch effort to backpedal my way out of the conversation. I started having nightmares about the way he feverishly shook that ridicules toy mouse in my daughters anxiety-ridden face just so she'd look at his stupid clown chart, and decided it was time to find another doctor. Then, exactly one year and 200 eye patches later, I was told that "whatever you're doing seems to be working, so keep it up."

And so I did–for another two years.

My at-home technique seemed to be working wonders. She was no longer seeing two mommies because her crazy eye had floated off into the abyss, and the fuzzy yellow dots which had been causing her so much grief were now only present whenever she rubbed her eyes too hard. I was proud of myself for fixing what no one else had believed to be a problem... Unfortunately, my touchdown dance would not last long.

You can't tell, but I'm hovering behind, making sure that the "b" doesn't look like a "d."
You can't tell, but I'm hovering behind, making sure that the "b" doesn't look like a "d."

What starts with a "D" and rhymes with nothing?

A few weeks ago, we were given a chapter book to read. The words were much smaller than what she was used to and there were no illustrations at all. From the moment we cracked it open, I could feel her anxiety penetrating my soul, and a mere three-page assignment took us almost an hour to complete. By the time we were finished, we both needed a drink, and when I had sent her to bed, I had mine. The next night was no different. She fidgeted, argued, yawned excessively and complained that there were no images. By the third night, I had decided to try something new, so I created a makeshift reader to help her stay focused on the line we were reading. It seemed to help, but still took us thirty minutes to read. *Sigh*

The next day, I scheduled a meeting with her teacher to address my concerns. "I'm trying everything, but she just doesn't seem to be getting it!" I cried, and continued to discuss my frustrations, as well as hers. I told her about the crazy eye and my plans to schedule an appointment with yet another doctor to make sure her problem wasn't vision related–and that's when I got blindsided. "You know..." she began, "When I read your email, I started thinking about her classroom behavior, especially during reading time. I'm not a doctor, and I can't tell you what to do, but I think she might have Dyslexia." We talked about what Dyslexia was and what it looked like; then she informed me that there were a few other students at school that were exhibiting the same behavior. She also told me that the school was going to be implementing several methods of treatment to help those children who are in need. Of course, I signed her up immediately.

The following Friday, my daughter had a vision-screening test to rule out the possibility that her problem was related to her eyes. You never think you'll find yourself wishing that your child just needs glasses, but that's what I found myself wishing for that day. And when the doctor told me "though she does have a mild form of Strabismus, her problem doesn't appear to be vision-related," my heart shrunk just like the Grinches, before he realized the true meaning of happiness. I started thinking about how hard it must be for her to keep up with everyone else. And later that day, when I shared the results with my mother, I could no longer contain my tears, "I just don't know how to help her!"

And the rain came down.

My mother, as one might expect, is my biggest fan. In her eyes, I'm still a tight-skinned twenty-four year old supermodel that just won The Pulitzer. Poor mom, she'll never be able to see me as the underachieving wannabe that I am–and I love her for that! She hesitated for a moment, listening to me sob uncontrollably about my inept parenting skills, and then offered the only thing she had to give: Her two cents... "But you ARE helping her!" she praised, while giving me a virtual hug and all the words of encouragement that a girl could ever need to keep from giving up. And just like that, I realized that everything was going to be okay–even if it wasn't going to be easy.

Signs your child may be dyslexic

Common characteristics of dyslexia
Most of us have one or two of these characteristics. That does not mean that everyone has
dyslexia. A person with dyslexia usually has several of these characteristics that persist over
time and interfere with his or her learning.

Oral language
• Late learning to talk
• Difficulty pronouncing words
• Difficulty acquiring vocabulary or using age appropriate grammar
• Difficulty following directions
• Confusion with before/after, right/left, and so on
• Difficulty learning the alphabet, nursery rhymes, or songs
• Difficulty understanding concepts and relationships
• Difficulty with word retrieval or naming problems reading
• Difficulty learning to read
• Difficulty identifying or generating rhyming words, or counting syllables in words
• Difficulty with hearing and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
• Difficulty distinguishing different sounds in words (phonological processing)
• Difficulty in learning the sounds of letters (phonics)
• Difficulty remembering names and shapes of letters, or naming letters rapidly
• Transposing the order of letters when reading or spelling
• Misreading or omitting common short words
• “Stumbles” through longer words
• Poor reading comprehension during oral or silent reading
• Slow, laborious oral reading

Written language
• Difficulty putting ideas on paper
• Many spelling mistakes
• May do well on weekly spelling tests, but may have many spelling mistakes in daily work
• Difficulty proofreading

Other common symptoms that occur with dyslexia
• Difficulty naming colors, objects, and letters rapidly, in a sequence
• Weak memory for lists, directions, or facts
• Needs to see or hear concepts many times to learn them
• Distracted by visual or auditory stimuli
• Downward trend in achievement test scores or school performance
• Inconsistent school work
• Teacher says, “If only she would try harder,” or “He’s lazy.”
• Relatives may have similar problems

Information provided by the International Dyslexia Association.

Free Dyslexia Screeing... Whaa?

Who Pays?

And easy, it hasn't been. What I've learned in my short period as a mother of a possibly dyslexic child, is that it's nearly impossible to find someone that will test her for free! At least, that's the case for those of us not attending public school. Oh sure, I know what you're thinking; "If you can afford to send her to private school, then what the hell are you crying about?" Well, I only have two words for you: Financial aid (and we're not afraid to use it)!

I've contacted at least a dozen places; including speech therapists, psychologists and random treatment centers throughout metro Atlanta. So far, not one of them is covered under our insurance plan or willing to "help a brother out." And dropping a few thousand dollars on a forty minute test doesn't exactly fit into what we jokingly call a budget.

But we'll make it work–we always do.

Has your child been diagnosed a learning disability?

If so, which one?

See results

Dyslexia... It's all the rage!

A friend of mine, who's going through a similar experience at school, shared an interesting perspective last week when she told me "it didn't matter what her child had because she didn't want to label him." I believe her exact words were, "They can call it whatever they want, but as long as he's happy and doesn't hate reading, I'm okay with that."

And she was right.

My daughter is six. Maybe she has Dyslexia, or maybe her crazy eye is a closet antagonist who waits until no one is looking before jumping around in a halfhearted attempt to trip her up. And there's always a possibility that she is simply not ready to read a fourth grade chapter book in her first grade class. But if I were to back off and give her the space she needs to learn at her own pace–without harping on her every last robotic pronunciation, there's a pretty good chance that she might enjoy reading just a little bit more! And as an aspiring writer with a scarcely captive audience, it's important to me that she does.

Life doesn't always cut you a break; it just gives you a lot of reasons to doubt your ability and forces you to make the best decisions in record-breaking time. It's up to you whether or not you succeed, and there's no way in hell that my kid won't–even if she has a learning disability. And if she's anything like her mother, which she undoubtedly is, that little pip-squeak is going to do whatever she has to in order to prove them all wrong.

And prove them wrong, she will!

© 2014 Lisa René LeClair


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    • sassypiehole profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa René LeClair 

      4 years ago from the ATL

      Thanks Cecile... Yes it is and more common that I ever knew. I found out that several of my friends actually have it–who knew? There are lots of tools, they just come at a price. I think that's the more frustrating issue. *Sigh*

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 

      4 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      Great article on Dylexia. Good of you to talk about your own struggles with the condition so that other parents can identify and understand that they are not alone. There are so many children with Dylexia. I hope that they will find better ways of addressing this condition!

    • sassypiehole profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa René LeClair 

      4 years ago from the ATL

      Thanks kerlund74! It's been interesting to see how hard it is to get affordable treatment. I'm hoping she doesn't have it, but if she does, I might have to take a class and teach her myself! I have four friends here that are struggling with the same issue. It's crazy!

    • kerlund74 profile image


      4 years ago from Sweden

      This is an important issue. A lot of people suffer of dyslexia, they learn how to get round it, handle it and so on. I realize it is not easy as a parent to know how to help, many teachers wouldn't either. Voted up and interesting!

    • sassypiehole profile imageAUTHOR

      Lisa René LeClair 

      4 years ago from the ATL

      Thanks for that... I totally agree! I can't even imagine the diagnosis they'd come up with if I ever went in for a test! ;-)

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 

      4 years ago from Fountain, CO

      As a public school teacher for almost 10 years, I truly believe that the term "learning disability" really only means that we are getting down to what each child really needs to learn best. I don't think there's a single child in the world that doesn't have specific learning needs. Even those students who are exceptionally smart have their own struggles.

      However, I do understand the heart break that occurs when you find out that your child has trouble with learning. I wish there were a way to make learning that much easier for every child. So I continue to meet each one where they are. :)


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