Life or Something Like It

Things You May Not Know About Homeschooling A Child With Dyslexia

Things You May Not Know About Homeschooling A Child With Dyslexia

Things You May Not Know About Homeschooling A Child With Dyslexia

There are things you may not know about homeschooling a child with Dyslexia   Homeschooling a child, with Dyslexia (and other learning disabilities), has been one of the most stressful, difficult, undesirable times of my life.  Dramatic?  Maybe, but it is my truth.

I was ELATED when we found out our child had dyslexia.  I mean, I giggled.  It was such a loud giggle that my child’s therapist thought I was fixing to have some sort of breakdown.  She even patted me, and I got a hearty “bless your heart.”

By the time my child was diagnosed, I had had this child in public preschool, homeschool, back to public school, and then when that crashed and burned, back to homeschooling.  I have homeschooled this child for the majority of his life, but I wanted to see if someone else could figure out what was wrong.

Luckily, our local university does specialized testing that does not cost me an arm and a leg.  Add that to the fact that his therapist (and all of the grad students) were beyond amazing with my child (and with me).

Getting Tested

Getting tested was not a hard thing to do, once we got going.  We first had him tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CapD).  That yielded the result of nothing was wrong, and his hearing was excellent.  No help, no answers.

We started therapy because I thought maybe it was depression or anxiety.  That was another plane flying into a mountain kind of moment.  It yielded no results.  Next, we tried medication for ADHD/ADD to see if that would spark something.  The meds did nothing.

It was an exhaustive list of things that we tried.  There was no amount of anything I could do or that I tried that helped him.  He was falling further and further behind, educationally, mentally, emotionally, and otherwise.

Finally an Answer

Once we got our appointment, at our local university, the therapist said she had to “score” the results.  That was when the back-patting began.  I asked her why she was patting my back and had a look of sympathy on her face.  She just smiled that sweet smile and kept on patting.

She said that she could not definitively tell me anything (until the scoring was done), but she knew within 5 minutes that he was SEVERELY dyslexic.

**Cue giggles**

Working Hard

She and the grad students worked really hard with him.  He worked very hard, as well.  They did the Barton system with him, that did help.  He was “well enough” to leave intense therapy.

Since he has been out of therapy, life has been hard.  He is not progressing at an average rate, at all.  He struggles, at times, with even spelling his name.  Spelling, well that is a thing of the past.  I’ve finally yielded and bought him a spelling calculator.

We have the Dragon software, so he can “tell” stories instead of having to write them physically.  This does not help with his grammar, however…I feel like that could be a lost cause.

He does have an insatiable love of reading.  I am incredibly thankful for that aspect of his life.  He may skim over words that he doesn’t know, but he still reads.  He prefers the Encyclopedia on any type of war.

Other Issues

Other issues play into the delay that this child has, but I’m not going to go into them.  I just know that I hold onto a lot of the guilt for how behind he is.  It is not for lack of me holding him to a higher standard or for seeking outside help…it is just a mom’s guilt.

I know that I am not to blame for things his biological mom chose to do, while pregnant.  Logically, I know that, but still…I wanted to be able to fix it.  To make it better.  Help him learn.  See him thrive.

I almost feel like I’m 1/2 way up the mountain.  I’m not sliding down the mountain, and I’m not going upwards either.  A treadmill…I’m standing on a treadmill, going THROUGH the mountain.

Here’s to all the mama’s going through the mountain.  Cheers.

The More You Know

Test for Dyslexia

Dyslexia: Symptoms and Causes

 

Foster to Adopt ~ International ~ Intrafamily Adoption, Medical Issues

Living in Reality Versus Fantasy

Living in Reality Versus FantasyLiving in Reality Versus Fantasy

Living in Reality Versus Fantasy is a hard thing to do with most people.  The other night, when I was cooking supper, G came in the kitchen with 2 pages worth of notes that she wanted to discuss.  When she does this….it is exhausting because it is difficult to explain things to her.  She does not process things the way a “normal legged” person would process them.  If you wonder what that statement means, you can go HERE and I have posted on our conversation.

With her FASD, she either A) do not understand what I’m saying B) doesn’t think it applies to her C) doesn’t realize the processes that have to occur C) gets her feelings REALLY hurt.  I don’t, personally, like any of those options.  We have been talking a lot about her future past high school.  She is almost 17 and she is *just* heading into 10th grade, so she is extremely behind.  She caught up, some, while at MILITARY SCHOOL, but still not enough to go into the 10th grade.  Now, this past semester, she has rocked it and I think in January we can advance.

Her Natural Talents and Abilities

G has some natural talents.  She is very personable and can talk to anyone.  Lately, she has been honing her craft in hair, nails, and makeup.  Also, she is good with kids (for the most part) and is tenacious.  She had, at one point, decided to go to cosmetology school.  That would eliminate the need for taking the ACT and she could be successful, have a career, and be able to live on her own (with some guidance).  The last little bit, though, she has declared her intention of pursuing criminal justice.  The things she is interested in (Judge, Federal Marshall, Forensics, etc) is just not in her wheelhouse.

Living in Reality Vs. Fantasy

I did not and do not want to discourage her in any way, but I also do not want her to live in this fantasy world of hers.  She bases all her “knowledge” off of movies, tv shows, and books….not real life and certainly not what is required to accomplish these things.  So, as she named off her choices, I told her that she could go to any college, in KY, for free until she gets her bachelor’s degree….that that would not be a problem BUT in order to get into a 4 yr school (or above), she would have to take the ACT.  That did not register.  Now, for our local trade school or 2 yr school, she can take a compass test.  This type of test just lets the administrators know if she needs to be in more remedial classes or regular classes.  We know we have the option to have an aide (which she DOES NOT want) and the tutoring is free.  I explained to her all the things she could do or would be good at…none of those things mattered because she is so tunnel-visioned that all she can see is a field in Forensics.

Explanation of Reality

In an effort to help her understand, I pulled up an ACT prep site.  I read off the simple grammar questions (what is a colon, what is an apostrophe, what is a pronoun) and she did not know any of the answers.  She was so sad after I went through a few questions and she did not have the answers.  I explained what the ACT test was versus the Compass test and that one had to have a certain score and one was just a placement test.  This did not go over well….so she retreated to her room.  What I did not realize was was that she was in her room, crying.

The Dams Burst Open

I called her back in the dining room to see what the problem was.  She burst open with sadness and anger at her birth mom for drinking while she was pregnant.   Now, G was “reaping” the consequences of it.  I let her go on and I let her cry.  Finally, I answered her questions and then I took the opportunity to talk about crutches.  I told her that I would let her cry for about 5 minutes and grieve the choices her mom made.  In the end, though, she needed to go and wash her face.

Dealing with the Choices of a Birth mom

I explained that she was not going to use her biological mom’s poor choices to dictate her life.  That God gave her things that are easy for her (hair and good with kids).  She is genuinely talented and could be really good if she allowed herself.  Also, I gave her options in the medical field that she could absolutely do and be great at it.

She was not going to use her FASD as a “poor pitiful me” person, but she was going to count it as a strength.  Just because she can’t do something like being a Federal Marshall, doesn’t mean she can’t have a fulfilling and successful life.  I told her about some of my friends who owned their own business and how much they love their job and are so good at it.

Things that Can Help

I told her that there was no shame in having an aide or extra tutoring because that was going to help her go even further without the stresses that college can sometimes bring.  That by looking at her, you can’t even tell that anything is wrong with her, that she can be a success but she has to throw away the crutches, forgive her biological mom and then move on…..there is no reason to run the race of life looking backward.  We only get one shot at life….there are no dress rehearsals.  I asked her if she wanted me to set the timer for her 5-minute pity party and she said that she didn’t need it.  She asked for some help in researching and that is something that we can and will do.

For now, she is at peace.  The enemy will not dictate her life…God has her.  He has a mighty plan for her.  I just get the privilege to sit back and watch from the sidelines.

What is your crutch?
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One Leg Shorter Than the Other Leg

One Leg Shorter Than the Other LegOne Leg Shorter Than the Other Leg is an analogy that I used as I was cooking supper.  G was asking me if I knew of a tattoo cream that could fade unwanted tattoos.  I said yes, but I doubted if they worked.  Most people get them lasered off and that is WAY more painful (so I’ve heard) than actually getting the tattoo.  Then she proceeded to tell me ALL the tattoos she was planning.  I sat, listened, and cooked.  She talked some more.

Tattoos

I am not against tattoos…I have 3 and I’m planning a 4th.  My first tattoo is my life verse.  Isaiah 61:3.  My second is a daisy that my kids each drew a petal and they colored it in with their favorite color.  Bart’s initial is on the bottom.  My third tattoo is Ruth 1:16 in Hebrew because that was the verse that came to me during one of the most difficult times in my marriage.

I always say, by looking at this, it remembers me to stay married LOL.  My fourth will be the symbol for faith, hope, and love with a semicolon.  I put A LOT of time, though, and design into anything I’m going to put on my body.  Flippant is something I am not.  I was over 40 when I got my first one…..so I’m not against them.

Lack of Wisdom in Choices

What I am against is just randomly choosing odd things that have no meaning, no purpose, not even a good design or misspelled words….G wants barbed wire around her wrist.  Barbed Wire.  There are some other insanely ridiculous things she wants.  I have no doubt she will, one day, rather spend her money on a tattoo than food or shelter.  That is just how her brain works.  She also does not feel pain, at all….not even when she cut her toe-off.  She does not feel it.

Good and Bad Choices

I took the opportunity to try to talk to her about choices and her decision-making skills.  This was a hard conversation because I did not want to cause her to have bad memories, which yields bad behaviors.  I did not want her to think I have given up on her because I have not.  It is just tough.

FASD

I found this website The Lifelong Effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Good Parenting Is Not Enough that was written by Deborah Hage.  I scanned through this document, all the while nodding my head.  Then, I asked G to get some paper and a pencil.  She read the article and wrote down what her thoughts were.  Next, she listed what were similar characteristics that she had.  She did what I asked, though 1/2 through, she said she really did not understand what she was reading.  That did not surprise me, so I sat down with her and I broke it down for her.

Normal Legs versus Abnormal Legs

I drew her a stick figure of a person with normal legs…then I drew a stick picture of a person with one normal leg and one that was about 3 inches shorter than the other leg.  I explained to her that I had 2 legs and she had 2 legs.  We could both walk…one walks evenly and one walks sort of wonky.  This is where I drew her brain.  I showed her pictures of brains that were affected with FASD.  They are both brains. They both function.  One brain is regular size and one brain is smaller.  That is due to things that happened that were out of her control.

How am I Walking?

This is where the stick figures come into play.  When she starts thinking about something (walking wonky), ie a boy that shows interest in her (just an example)….all she sees is he loves me he loves me he loves me.  What I see (walking with 2 normal legs) is that he SAYS in love with her, but he is daily beating her, doing drugs, cheating, drinking, etc.  She doesn’t see the bad, she hyper focuses on “he loves me he loves me he loves me.”  That made sense to her.

We talked about her love of tattoos.  She hyper-focuses on the fact that she wants to be seen, be noticeable….so she wants all this art all over her person.  What she doesn’t see is the fact that something is misspelled or the tattoo artist is using dirty needles and she ends up getting sick.  This is how the brain of an FASD person works.

Chronological Age Versus Mental Age

We talked about the things on that list, I linked to above…..how she is physically 16, but she does not think like a 16 yr old and she doesn’t “feel” 16.  She realizes she is immature for her age.  Sadly, she does not have a phone or access to electronics (for a reason).  Also, she does not have her license (per her request).  There are days when she feels more like 13 in some areas.  When she is emotional, that age drops down to about 8.  Then, when she is escalated we are in the 3-4 yr old range in her reactions.  This is typical.

Kids from hard places are normally chronologically an age (16), but mentally they are 1/2 that (8), and when things are bad they are 1/2 the 1/2 (4) that age.  I drew that out and we talked about real experiences she had that supported that.  She wants to be “normal”.  She has a desire to do and reacting like a normal 16 yr old you.  Again, back to the stick figures.

Yes, she will ALWAYS have “one leg shorter than the other” and that will never change BUT she can adapt.  She can make concessions….she can put a “lift” in her shoe.  She can ask questions, privately if it is too embarrassing, and have me explain things in a way that she can understand and she can get have a normal response because, together, we come up with that normal response.

Brain Tracks

I believe a brain can be retracked.  I believe that the train in her brain goes in one direction, right now, but with the proper “lifts” in her shoes and her asking questions, that train track can be slightly alternated.  There will be things that we have to do a bit differently.  She needs to be monitored more when she does have a phone (and she will) and when she does have access to the internet (as all my electronic devices have parental controls).  There will be some school subjects where she will be required to read the material, research out what she finds interest in, but have no tests.  She will not get above pre-algebra in math.

She will never take the ACT, but she will get a trade.  The subjects she excels in (reading, writing, history) she will go above and beyond and then some.  She has no desire to get her license but she can get her permit if she so chooses.  She can’t hold a “real” job but she can work for us.  We can leave her alone here for a couple of hours and pay her to watch her little brothers.  This is not something I have ever done for my older kids but this is something that I will do for her because she needs to learn the value of money.  That she needs to work hard, have a bank account, be responsible and make money decisions wisely.

Raising Special Needs Kids

FASD is no joke.  I have 2 kids with it.  One kid, it affects one way and the other kid it affects completely differently.  I do parent them differently because I have too but I will not say “well, you can’t do this because you have brain damage.”  Heck no.  I encourage all my children to try.  If they try 1000 and fail then to never try at all.  Once my kids were officially diagnosed with this, my brain track shifted.  I eased up on myself and I altered my expectations.  We have had very open conversations.

Before military school and diagnosis, she would have a response.  It was bad, she would escalate HUGELY.  I would escalate and it got ugly.  More times than not, I am able to control my responses.  In my head I am thinking “brain damage, she is not 16, she is 8 or 4.  How would I respond to Hunter (he is 3)?”  I simply look at her and say (sometimes through clenched teeth and REALLY close to her face) “Do you need a lift in your shoe?”

She immediately looks at me…usually stops in her tracks…and she listens.  Then, she will go to her room and do her exercises which always cools her jets off.  Finally, she will step outside, I will send her and an older child for a walk.  I will go and wash my face or go to my room.  Within about 15-20, she comes back, apologizes and we talk things out or she is at a place where she will listen to me.

I can’t say this will always be the case, but for now, that is all I have to say.

God is good…..even in the short-legged moments.

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