You Know I have to admit, I was one of the ones who never heard a lot about Dyslexia. I thought it was someone who saw and read letters, literally backwards! I had no idea that I was soon going to be face-to-face with that word ‘Dyslexia,’ and I was going to have to figure out how this one word would change my life forever.
I am a Mother of five children under the age of 8 years of age. When our oldest son turned the golden-age of 5, I was eager as anyone to have their child go to school. The first day hit me like a ton of bricks that I was not expecting or prepared for. As most Mom’s, I am a Mom who cares for the mental, physical, emotional and mainly spiritual life of my children. It pained me to watch my son come off the school bus sobbing in tears. Not of joy. Of frustrations and much more. I felt like the years I had invested until this point, were falling away before my very own eyes. It only got worse with each passing day.
This was the beginning of our journey towards Homeschooling. I felt the call of God to start the process. My husband was not so sure. He knew I had three other little ones and was pregnant again.This was too big of a task for me to bear he thought and I must confess, I thought so too. I struggle with pregnancies. But, I still felt God leading our family this way. Sure enough, God confirmed it through His Word one night in a timely Scripture Verse. I shared it with my husband and he gave the go. We were off and running!
Well, we were off...but not running.
I painted their room and set everything up! I had an Elk on-the-wall chalkboard for instructing. Two Bear Cub chalkboards for the two older boys. I had gotten two free old school desks. I was eager and filled with excitement until the day came. Soon after. I met our first problem.
No matter how much I tried to teach and re-teach any concept, he would not get it. Somedays he would, and then the very next day, forget it completely. This continued until the end of that year. We barely made the requirements for his PLO’s. I snuffed it off as: a new year, we started late, maybe I am not very good at this, etc.
Year Two. Grade One. We were both happy to begin with, and then the pressure to read was on. Our precious son was giving up so easily. Not getting his phonic sounds right. Always forgetting i and e sounds. Mixing them up in his spelling. Not spelling. Not writing. Not writing well. For the first three months I was forgiving. Then, the teacher required more. I noticed comments were lacking from my support teacher and Term marks were very low. I began to get very frustrated with my son. I didn’t think he was trying. I had babies to take care of. A house to run. School became an ugly chore for both of us. I thought I failed as his teacher and I was adamant he failed me as a student. He was just being lazy!
Lets just say, year three, grade two.....well, I nickname this our Tearful Year. I called the teacher in tears at the end of grade one, knowing that we were both flailing in the water drowning and we needed help bad! My son now hated school...and so did I! I started to doubt if God put the right person for the job.
My teacher gave me more excuses....You just moved and have a new baby (now 5 under six years of age), you have answered the call to be a Pastors Wife, and with all that ministry, etc. etc.
You know what? She was right! There were so many demands on me and yes it was difficult. Very difficult. But....that didn’t explain why my son was not retaining any information, or why he can’t read at his age level. Now it wasn’t effecting just his reading; It was also his Math. With another child starting Kindergarten, I could really see the difference in the older sons learning, and it was a vast difference. I started to be able to pick out certain things and really analyze them in comparison. My teacher did not recommend this and stated, “I should not be comparing my sons.” Then I took to the internet to dissect my conclusions. That is when I was faced with the word, ‘Dyslexia.’
Reading the symptoms and everything that we struggled with on a day-to-day basis, there was finally a match. This was like striking gold! In a sense of accomplishment, I went to my teacher, who reproved me for wanting to ‘brand’ my child. She did nothing to help and insisted he would catch up. Writing letter’s backwards was common for his age and so was slow readers. I tried to explain that it was so much more than just that, but it was finished in her mind and of course, she has the degree as a teacher, so she must know best. Right?
Didn’t God call me to this? Why are these burdens on my heart for this child in whom He gave me to raise? Why are these burdens not a concern to the people who are supposed to help me?
I was so depressed. I felt like there was this vast canyon between me and the help we needed. My heart ached and I bore my soul to the One who set this task at hand for me in the beginning. I left it there, in His hands.
Year Four. Grade Three. I painfully asked for a new Teacher. We finally started getting the help we needed and this teacher listened. She went out of her way to get me set up with people who have studied Dyslexia. She helped me with appointments to see a specialist who specify’s in Irlene Syndrome, a form of Dyslexia that effects the eyes. I felt relieved and thankful that God heard my cries. And yes! He had Dyslexia. And, to my shock and later joy, so did I!
Now we hit another stumbling block.
My sons harsh attitude towards learning and unwillingness to do any work because of the years of struggling.
The Apple TeSt
With our new found realization that we indeed have Dyslexia, I ventured into the unknown to find out what Dyslexia is exactly and why we have it.
My support Teacher gave me a link to Susan Barton’s websites. This is where I gathered most of my information. However, I have gone and done some extra searching and reading, all in which seems to echo the same things that Susan Barton was saying.
I like her videos:
One; because they are videos (we learn better with visuals).
Two; because they are very informative and she answers real life
questions that I want to know, or need to know, on how to notice
Dyslexia as well as deal with it.
As I watched her video’s, I learned so much more about myself. I knew I really struggled in school. I think I only got one ‘A’ in my life and that was because the teacher saw potential in me and it was definitely not due to my work. I usually ran on a C- Average.
I would hand in incomplete work so-o-o many times, because it took me a very long time to complete my tasks. I had many different strategies for each answer, or I would have a hard time to understand what they wanted exactly. Sometimes I wouldn’t hand in anything, because I had no help and couldn’t finish the work, or knew I had no idea what I was doing anyway. This was an attempt to try to save my embarrassment, but it became a downward spiral. I usually was even more embarrassed by the teachers reactions to this kind of behavior.
In High School I skipped so much that I barely graduated. In grade 10, I dropped out and then decided to go back and try again. It took me the longest to write down notes, read books...which I never did, I usually watched the movie and normally did my report on that. I would get poor marks not based on the knowledge of my work, but on grammar, spelling, punctuation etc. I felt like it was no use to even try.
I had no sense of time and was always late...even to this day :) which is so bad! I would day dream all the time and draw on everything. I wrote journals that were so far beyond my years in poetry and cleverness, but no one saw these. I hid my talent away because I knew they either, would not be able to read my writing, or simply not grasp the grammar lay out.
I did my IQ Test and was shocked at the results. One result showed that I was at 119 and this one is recognized at different institutes, so I tend to lean toward this one more. It is above average for an IQ. The other was at 130 which I gave plenty of time for. Thankfully they don’t test you on spelling or grammar (heheeehhhe), otherwise I would have failed terribly!
I wish now some of my teachers could have recognized what I was good at and could have helped me conquer those things that were a challenge to me back then...who knows where I would be at now or how that would have helped my future! I never knew that the way I was struggling, is not normal. I thought I was just dumb! I hated school. Now, so does my son.
I had to ask myself, “How can I do things different for him?” I could see he was struggling with the same issues I was having in school. I could see his potential, but like so many other teachers, I had the PLO’s starring me down and he was not making the cut!
To understand Dyslexia, many scientist have done what is called an FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging). They have used many other means, but this one in particular was used when NIH scientists Guinevere Eden, D.Phil., and colleagues decided to test Dyslexics verses Non-Dyslexics.
They had a solid notion based off their findings that Dyslexics are indeed having problems with reading, writing, spelling, and have trouble processing specific visual information. Where there is activity in the Non-Dyslexic while reading, it is nonexistent in the Dyslexic. To conclude their findings, they also noted that they hypothesize that dyslexia causes differences in brain function and structure, and that the brain structure and function will change if the dyslexic person is taught to read properly.
This finding was absolutely critical to my own actions for our homeschooling!
One characteristic quality of a Dyslexic that Susan Barton so eloquently portrays in her videos, is that many, or all, often can see things in 3D. As I learned more, and more, it dawned on me, “People think different then I do!” I see things in a 3D sense. This seemed natural to me, and I thought everyone thought like I did. I decided to check it out for myself.
I sat my husband down who is not Dyslexic at all. I gave him a little test.
I asked him,
“If I said, an apple is falling from a tree, what do you see?”
I said (trying to stay calm), “So, you don’t actually see an apple falling from a tree and the leaves of the tree in the background, the sunset, the orchard, the way it hit the ground, inside of it? Can you even tell if its red or green????” I was really shocked. He just kept shaking his head, ‘no’!
He paused and said,
“ I could try to imagine it, but it is really difficult for me.”
Immediately, I had an epiphany!
The same way he struggled to imagine that apple falling, was the same struggle I had in Language and its process.
The apple was so easy and natural for me to imagine and manipulate in a scene. I could have ate it, it is so real. This is how I see most-everything in life. Stories jump into action and I watch my own shows via my brain. It was quite disappointing when I was a child to watch a movie if I ever did read the book! My version was much more detailed and better. Words have an actual visual meaning to them!
Understanding was, and is, key to better comprehending the challenges we were about to face together, me and my son.
To be continued....