Article written by Blog Post Contributor by KindofCrunchyHomeschool
Last year I sat and listened to a therapist tell me that my second child has learning disabilities. I didn't feel as devastated this time. I had been told this about my first child years ago and now she is excelling at reading. So, I know it is not a hopeless diagnosis. But it wasn't an easy road to get her to that point, or an inexpensive one! And I did not think we would travel this road again.
I don't know why I did not catch it sooner. Maybe it was part denial. He didn't have the same "symptoms" as his sister. I thought he was just not interested, didn't want to sit still, and he would get it when he was ready. But when you teach, and reteach, letters and sounds for years with no real improvements, it is time to admit there is a problem.
Dyslexia is something I can't understand. My husband and I were both early readers and excelled in school. I didn't know of anyone growing up with dyslexia. I don't know many now with it. I had never heard of an auditory or visual processing disorder either!
When I first heard my children had a problem like this, my first thoughts were "What did I do to cause this? Where did it come from?" Was it something I ate or drank during pregnancy (after all I did drink coke, although it was caffeine free!). Did I take a medication that caused it? Is it because I wasn't able to breastfeed either baby for very long? Is it because they had too many vaccines at a time or too early? Did I give them Benedryl or Ibuprofin too many times as toddlers? Since they both have the same learning disability, I can at least mark out my daughter's fall off my bed at 9 months old (mom of the year award winner here!). I may never know the "why" or understand what it is like to struggle to read.
If you are a homeschool mom, maybe you will understand and identify with me. When we made the decision to homeschool, I had brilliant plans in my head! In my imaginary homeschool, the kids could not wait to learn each day! They sat by me enthralled with the great literature I was reading them, well above grade level of course :) We would study great artist and composers and they would beg for more. They might even be one of those homeschool kids who graduate and go to college at age 14! And they would of course diagram sentences for fun and speak Latin to each other like a secret language! And Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis would be their favorite authors.
Yeah.....none of that actually happened. Well, we have read some great books! And we have studied some artists! But my imaginary, beautiful, perfect homeschool world hasn't happened. Mostly my fault for not being more disciplined and engaging. Partly because by the time we battled through reading, which often left one of us or both of us in tears, my nerves were shot and the last thing the kids wanted to do was more school!
The therapist explained to me why my child protested so much over school time. I just could not understand, having gone to traditional school which lasted 7-8 hours a day, why these kids complained about doing school work at home when they have so much free time afterwards! She told us to imagine we had to go to a class everyday, say calculus or astrophysics (something you don't understand). The teacher talks at you for an hour every day about this topic you just can't get, for years! You tried to pay attention at first. But over time you realized you just could not get it, maybe you felt stupid that you could not understand it, especially if others around you seemed to understand. So after a year or so, you start doing whatever you can to get out of going to this dreadful class and listening to this person ramble on and on about a topic that makes no sense. Maybe you pretend you feel bad, maybe you throw yourself on the floor in tears, maybe you act out and behave badly hoping you get kicked out of class! I kind of understand this, having taken a few college courses that made no sense to me!
So now we start all over. Sigh. But in a new way, new methods, more patience. I am enormously thankful that the Lord led us to homeschool our children, for many reasons, but especially because they have learning disabilities. They have been spared feeling different or dumb, compared to kids in class.
I have come to realize that you have to celebrate the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. You have to try and understand exactly who they are and who they are supposed to be. I remember my parents being so incredibly proud of me for my successes in school. I was lousy at sports but good at art. Maybe my dad would have been thrilled if I had been athletic or even slightly interested in watching football with him (gag). I am sure my mom would have liked me to discuss poetry and Russian history with her. But they loved me and celebrated my talents and interests. And I must do that with my children too! Because each child has something to give and special qualities. They each have a purpose on Earth unique to them. It is our job as parents to help them reach that purpose.
To my fellow moms and dads who have children with disabilities, I pray you have strength and patience. Your children are beautifully and purposefully made. And God picked you to raise them, teach them and love them. You are not alone.
Read more about our journey with dyslexia and my favorite curriculum and books for parents at my blog, www.kindofcrunchyhomeschool.wordpress.com
Sally Lane author of Kind of Counry Homeschool Blog