Since the beginning of our homeschool adventures we’ve learned so many different subjects, had a bunch of field trips and discovered new interests. One thing that’s been consistent through all this is my least favorite subject to teach: Reading.
We made great strides in our phonics curriculum and looking from where we started a year and a half ago to now, there have been great improvements. But I still wasn’t sure if she was where she needs to be.
It’s hard because we’ve never raised a seven year old before. On one hand I’m trying really hard not to compare my kids to other kids but on the other hand, if something is off, early detection can be really helpful.
This year I asked for local suggestions and found a reading tutor to help me where I was struggling. The teacher specializes in tutoring kids with dyslexia but she also helps kids who are struggling with reading. She got to know my daughter really well and after a while suggested I get her tested for a reading difference.
Let me tell you I was in complete denial. I mean, I think I had been for years. Lil’ J is so smart and ok so she sometimes gets her bs and ds backwards, but so do many kids her age, and based on some things I’d read, it didn’t seem to make or break it for being dyslexic. She has issues decoding words despite being able to explain the rules of decoding to me and seemingly able to understand the process for sounding out a word. To me she was guessing, being lazy, and just not trying hard enough.
The first neurologist I called quoted me more than $3000 for an intensive screening process and review. Umm. No thanks. I mean, I wanted to know but I didn’t think it was going to be that expensive. Another friend recommended another specialist who quoted $75-$200 depending on what workup we wanted afterwards. Sold!
We went in for the screening and the specialist was so nice. Asking my daughter what her favorite subjects and books were. My daughter said reading, but I’m still not certain she meant it. She probably felt like that was the right thing to say in the circumstance we were in. After explaining her processes a little bit she took my daughter back and gave her a series of tests. I could hear a little bit of it in the other room and fully expected them to come back saying something like “well, she’s a little behind but doing totally fine…”
Instead with a concerned smile on her face the dyslexia therapist looked at me and said “yea, you should definitely get her tested.” My stomach dropped. Then she pointed out the tests she gave her and explained how she was looking at letter processing compared to numbers and how my daughter’s brain responded to different questions.
All the signs pointed to dyslexia and an official screening (we’re looking at taking her to a children’s hospital in Dallas that offers free testing) will provide her with the documentation she needs for college admissions and things for special assistance programs. The more the specialist explained the more I felt my anxiety rising and the worse I felt.
How did I not see this? Where did this come from? How will this effect her life?
I lost it.
My daughter was playing in the other room but I think she heard me failing to holding back tears because she came in to check on me, which of course made me feel even worse.
When I called my husband and told him the news he wasn’t surprised. He told me he had a feeling and that it was better we knew now. I was still feeling distraught. Partly because of the realization itself and partly for all of my unnecessary pushing and pushing over time.
My daughter overheard me talking to her dad about dyslexia and chimed in.
“I’M DYSLEXIC?!” She asked. “COOL! I’m like Percy Jackson!” She said. We’d just finished the entire first series together. So this girl was well aware of the term.
“Does this mean I can read Greek?!” She asked. That gave me a much-needed laugh.
It’s been about a month since we found out and there are a few things I’m noticing I’m doing differently.
Learning about dyslexia
I’m listening to the Dyslexic Advantage book and some other podcasts about raising children with dyslexia. Understanding how her brain works and processes things differently. For instance her tutor started teaching Lil’ J how to write in cursive and her handwriting is way better in cursive. She seems to enjoy it better and I’ve read it’s easier for her brain to understand and write that way because she’s not having to pick up her pencil as much. I’m learning how there are advantages and strengths of being a different kind of thinker. I haven’t really been able to totally dive into it yet, just taking the information in a little at a time.
I’m way more patient. I would get so frustrated when we’d practice phonics and she’d struggle with words or sounds I thought we’d already mastered. Now that I understand it’s not a lack of effort, I have the patience to work with her on things that she’s stumbling over. On her tablet she’ll play spelling and reading word games and instead of setting her off to play on her own I’ll sometimes sit and show her how to replay the question so she can hear the question or words better.
It’s a challenge, but a fun one, and a nice break from some of the reading activities we’ll do on paper.
More tutoring. We’ve upped her tutoring to four days a week instead of two and instead of just getting help with reading she’s working with a dyslexic specific curriculum. Right now I’m taking some of the pressure off myself to teach reading and focusing on other subjects, her good comprehension, and reading aloud from books she loves.
Keeping reading fun
I think one of the most important things I can do right now is make sure I keep reading and books inspiring and fun. I’ll drop what I’m doing a couple times a day when she asks me to read more from a novel. I’ll pause to ask comprehension questions or ask her to make predictions about what may happen next–If she doesn’t already offer through one of her random excited outbursts.
She loves to learn. Reading hasn’t come easy to her, but I know she’ll get it, and once she does I have a feeling it’ll be hard to get her to stop.