|Posted on May 21, 2016 at 10:50 PM||comments (0)|
Our official journey with dyslexia came when our son, Sage, was 8 years old in 3rd grade. Although now that we understand what dyslexia is, we look back and see that he was showing signs in preschool. From preschool through 2nd grade, Sage was enrolled in a small, private Catholic school. During kindergarten screening, the teachers were concerned with his handwriting. It was unusually sloppy and he was still having trouble writing and spelling his own name. We decided to go ahead and let him go on to kindergarten and that we would make it a priority to work with him at home.
Once kindergarten started we were not seeing the progress we had hoped so we decided to contact Easter Seals and get him evaluated by an Occupational Therapist. The therapist felt he could benefit from OT once a week. He went to OT all through kindergarten and 1st grade. He was still struggling with handwriting and it was improving, but it was still not at grade level. He was also starting to have difficulty with his weekly spelling list. He could memorize it, but not remember how to spell the words the following week. However, his 1st grade teacher was wonderful and she really went above and beyond to help Sage feel successful at school.
It was during the fall of 2nd grade that he began to really have difficulty in spelling, math, reading and writing. He was struggling immensely with memorizing his spelling words and math facts and his teacher thought maybe he had an attention issue and that he just wasn’t trying hard enough. We felt it was not an attention issue, but rather a learning issue. During 2nd grade, he probably worked harder than any other student in his class, but he just couldn’t keep up. No amount of flash cards, studying, and reviewing could provide him the help that he needed. We began to see that the school was not going to have the resources that we needed to help our son and decided that we would finish out his 2nd grade year in the parochial school and then transfer him to the public school for 3rd grade.
Within a week of the start of 3rd grade, I asked the teacher to meet with us so that I could share some of my concerns. Sage was already struggling and we knew it wasn’t going to get any better. The teacher wanted to wait and see a little more of him in the classroom and also see how the first round of testing would turn out. When results were in, Sage scored low enough to obtain RTI intervention for math, but he just missed the cut off for reading by 2%. By this time, I had begun to do my own research and suspected that he may be dyslexic. He fought homework so much that we usually had tears every night. He didn’t want to go to school in the morning often saying he had a stomachache. The psychological and emotional impact was overwhelming
I spoke to the teacher about dyslexia and she felt because he could read at some level this was not the issue. We continued to advocate for appropriate reading intervention and an evaluation.
The school would not work with us. After several teacher and principal meetings we decided to take our son out of the school and homeschool him. He was failing in school and the system was failing him.
The time and energy we were putting into the fight, could be used to provide him the help and intervention he needed. We also decided to have him privately tested. He was diagnosed with dyslexia (reading), dyscalculia (math), and dysgraphia (writing).
We immediately sought out an Orton-Gillingham (OG) trained tutor. We quickly found out that was not an easy task. As a result of the schools not providing students with dyslexia the research-based interventions they need, the local tutors have no room to take on students. I called ten different tutors before I found one that could work with us.
Our son is now 10 years old and in 4th grade. He continues to be homeschooled and sees an OG tutor twice a week for one hour each session. He is making great strides. The emotional rollercoaster that he was on due to his learning issues is not just a rocky boat. He still has his moment because living with dyslexia is a lifelong struggle. However, had we left him in the public school system, he would have sank.
Our family is very lucky. Sage can be homeschooled and we have the financial resources o pay a tutor $4,000 a year to provide him with the support he needs. Most families cannot do this. The system is broken and needs to be fixed. How many children are we going to let fail before we do something about it?