Help... Our Daughter Has Dyslexia!
If Dyslexia Had A Face; I'd PUNCH It!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Famous people with Dyslexia
- Celebrities With Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities - NCLD
Dyslexia and LD in Famous People | Many celebrities have ADHD or learning disabilities like dyslexia and dysgraphia—from Steven Spielberg to Tim Tebow.
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.
• 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
• 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?
- Help for Children with Dyslexia, and Reading and Writing Problems
Lexercise offers professional language therapy for children.
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?
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!
Below are some helpful links for parents of children who many be struggling with a learning disability
- The International Dyslexia Association Promoting literacy through research, education and advocacy
For more information on how to cope with a child that may be dyslexic, Please visit The International Dyslexia Association at http://www.interdys.org/.
- National Center for Learning Disabilities
The National Center for Learning Disabilities – the leading online resource for parents and educators on learning disabilities and related disorders.
- LD OnLine
LD OnLine is the leading website on learning disabilities, learning disorders and differences. Parents and teachers of learning disabled children will find authoritative guidance on attention deficit disorder, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalc
© 2014 Lisa René LeClair