Here is the Update on Our School Situation. The kids have been in school for 2 weeks. In those 2 weeks, I have done a whole lot of nothing. I spot clean the house. Supper is usually done by about 10 am because I can cook uninterrupted. I pet the dogs and the cats. Chip, my outside cat, and I have gotten to be besties. There have been days I’ve just mindlessly scrolled through the internet.
Lest We Forget
Still did an infusion for Hunter, one day. Baseball drop-off, pickup, and a game 3 days a week. A deer through a windshield. There were a massage and 2 dates with a bestie for lunch/breakfast respectively. Oh, and naps. I’ve taken naps. Homeschooling. I still have one kid here trying to finish her schoolwork.
I have a hair appointment. Then there is another all-day doctor’s appointment with Hunter. Again, drop-off, pickup, and another baseball game 3 times a week. Horse therapy. A birthday. And…homeschooling.
Maybe I do still do things.
First 2 Weeks with Daniel and Jude
Daniel is coming into his own. It takes him a bit more time to do his schoolwork. He has been dubbed “the smart kid” in his history class. That title, he has beamed with pride. He is making friends and eating more than he probably should. He does love food. I believe he is finding his way and that brings me joy.
We have discovered that in Jude’s apprehension to wear his hearing aid, he is now okay with it. Once the student’s asked their 5000 questions, he is now considered bionic. The obviousness of his skin color has been met with pride. He is wearing his heritage and proud of where he came from. He is jovial, excited, and thriving.
Then There is Hunter
Hunter tends to express his needs/wants with a great and determined expression. He now has 2 girlfriends..PA and then the girl with the long pretty hair. Food has been challenging. As he has some dietary restrictions, he eats what he can at school, and then I pack food for him.
On the first day of the “strike” system and he gets one for calling a kid “bad.” Good times. He has met the nurse with a good amount of blood and scrapes. Apparently, in the stampede to go outside he got tripped up. We do homework at night and he is focused. He is loving it.
Noah Started College
He began this past Tuesday, so as of this posting, he will have been there a full week. His nerves were shot. He was so very nervous and anxious. I think he is finding his footing but he has yet to experience the full-fledged experience of college. I foresee that it is going to shock him. He’s got this though. I know that he is smart and determined.
She has started the first day of her last year of college. Gracious, she is overwhelmed but gaining traction. She moved to another apartment and is getting her feet wet in the world of being in a fast-paced last year. I’m so proud of her.
Grayce Plugging Away
She is still working on finishing her last year of high school. I was hoping that she would be done by the end of December but I am not sure. For a fact, according to the state of Kentucky’s requirements, she does have enough to graduate. I, personally, just have some things I want her to complete.
We have many irons in the fire with what our next step is. Yet, we just don’t know where to move. Until I have a clear direction from Jesus…we stand still and do what we have been doing.
Ben and Bug
They are not in school but working hard. I’m super proud of them both too! My children bring me such joy. I’m blessed beyond reason.
This is a breakdown of the Dys- learning disabilities. Honestly, growing up (up to adulthood, I guess), I only knew of Dyslexia. In that, Dyslexia meant that you saw/spelled a word backward.
Pretty amazing that that is all I thought it encompassed, huh.
Over time and with the help of some amazing therapists, I have learned so much more. By stepping out of the “box” I had created with LD’s, I was able to expand my mind and have many “aha” moments of realization.
According to the National Institute for Learning Disabilities (NILD), “Dys” means difficulty with and “lexia” means words – thus “difficulty with words”. Originally the term “Dyslexia” referred to a specific learning deficit that hindered a person’s ability to read. More recently, however, it has been used as a general term referring to the broad category of language deficits that often includes the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words as well as the ability to read and spell words accurately and fluently. When breakdowns occur in these foundational reading skills, dyslexic students often struggle to understand what they read as well as develop vocabulary at a slower rate.
“Dys” means difficulty with and “calculia” means calculations and mathematics – thus “difficulty with calculations and mathematics”. This term refers to those who struggle with basic number sense and early number concepts as well as have difficulties with math calculations and math reasoning.
“Dys” means difficulty with and “graphia” means writing – thus “difficulty with writing”. The term dysgraphia refers to more than simply having poor handwriting. This term refers to those who struggle with the motor skills necessary to write thoughts on paper, spelling, and the thinking skills needed for vocabulary retrieval, clarity of thought, grammar, and memory.
In my years in school, this all makes sense. When I was young (even now), I was made fun of terribly in school. Teachers would put me in the hallway, alone. I had to go to a special ed room. There is this clear memory of standing in line, with other children, behind the teacher. She marched us to the special ed class in front of everyone. My “friends” pointed at me while laughing because I was going to the “stupid” room.
That phrase gives me anxiety, to this day.
I had to be kept in from recess because I wouldn’t do what they wanted me to do. Memorization of math facts, in second grade, was a nightmare. I had to miss fun outings, sit alone, and worse…I had my name at the bottom of the list of kids who hadn’t learned these facts. Everyone saw. Everyone made fun of me.
Things I struggle with
Telling time on an analog clock is one of those things. If the watch (I no longer even wear a watch) has no numbers or Roman numerals…forget it. I can do it but it takes me a hot minute to think about it.
Directions…just don’t even. I can tell you landmarks because I became an expert at knowing my surroundings. Cardinal directions, ordinal numbers, place numbers, Roman numerals. Hard pass.
My right from my left…nope. Luckily, God created me with this issue, so he gave me a mole on my right hand. Ask me to look to the right and then watch me look/feel for my mole on each hand.
When I have a series of numbers, I always flip the 2 middle numbers. Always. Needless to say, I have messed up balancing checkbooks, appointments, phone numbers, etc. I have to write it, say it, write it again, and clarify now.
To get through math, through all grades, I cheated a lot. My mom is a math teacher. She is brilliant, but I simply didn’t get it. I didn’t understand and I felt stupid when I would ask. Seriously, I should know this stuff. She is brilliant and available, yet I would not ask because then she would know my secret.
Do you know how long it took me to learn how to tie my shoe? Luckily, velcro came on the scene and saved me.
That’s what I thought it was
My secret. As long as I had my mole, knew landmarks, cheated, got a digital watch…no one would know. Sadly, I knew. I have no clue how I managed to do all that I did with the degrees that I have. Pre-Vet has A LOT of math and calculations. I would have little tricks that would help me along the way.
Then Came D
When D entered my life, he was 2.5 yrs old and non-verbal. We knew he had some issues, so I immediately got him into First Steps. He got tubes, twice, and finally learned to talk…with a speech impediment.
No biggie. After he graduated from First Steps, I got him into Home Health. He worked hard on his speech. Over time, I realized that due to FASD, his memory was fresh every morning. No matter how hard he worked or working with him, he would forget everything I taught him.
While we were in the process of adopting Jude, we had to put the kids in public school. D was in Kindergarten. Guess what? He was in the special ed classroom, but not an all-day thing. Just long enough to work on his alphabet and phonics.
He finally got it, but the writing was a no-go and reading was not happening. The sadness of seeing him struggle was palpable. It brought up a lot of repressed memories for me, that I had to trudge through in order to help him.
I pulled him out of school for many reasons, none of which I will go into because it is his story to tell, one day. In doing that, I knew that I needed to get him back into speech. We had his hearing checked and doing that, he was checked for Sensory Processing Disorder. Luckily, all that was good.
Across the hall was the speech team. We met with Alison for a “get to know you” and see if he qualifies for their program. Well, he did. She didn’t ask me how he was at reading or spelling. There were questions like “does he know his right from his left” or “how long did it take him to tie his shoes?” I answered them all as honestly as I could.
When it was all said and done, she said that he did qualify for the speech aspect of their program. Then she patted me on the back and said: “we do not diagnose, usually, for dyslexia until a child is older.” I was like, alright…that ship didn’t even enter my harbor. She got really quiet and patted me on the back. Quietly, she said “Your son has severe dyslexia. I knew within 5 minutes of meeting him.”
I started laughing. She was startled at that response, so she kept on patting. While asking if I was okay, I said: “We just discovered my 6th child has single-sided deafness, so this diagnosis for D is just like a teardrop in the ocean.”
After that, I just stated that I thought it was me and I just was not able to teach him. She said that is not the case, that he just learns differently. As we continued talking about the red flags of dyslexia (and dysgraphia), she asked me a few questions about myself.
In a moment of clarity, she looked at me and smiled. She said you do realize you are smart and that you have been able to overcome your learning disability. I must have had a blank moment because I did not comprehend what she even said. She asked me when I was diagnosed with Dyscalculia. I told her that I had never heard of that. That I just thought I was stupid in that area.
She explained what that was and that it was crystal clear that that is what I had. Back when I was younger, there was not a name for it. Now there is. I almost felt vindicated. It is what it is. I have compensated for my shortcomings and confusion. So has D.
Now, we are armed with knowledge. D cannot spell worth a crap. Therefore, I got him a pocket speller. He has all these ideas and thoughts, but can’t get them on paper. I bought Dragon Speak so he could speak out what he needed to. He has written some awesome things through this program.
We bought an amplifier so he could hear what I was saying and his speech is corrected. Also, we did many years of speech/reading/language therapy. I had him write books from the Bible. His penmanship is meticulous because he has worked incredibly hard. Cursive was something I thought he would not be able to do…guess what though? Writing the book of Genesis in cursive has changed that too! We got a dry erase cursive board and he practiced until he mastered it.
He loves to read, so any series that interests him…we get. Also, Librivox and Audible have been game-changers. Both of these programs have real lived people (as opposed to the computer voices) reading stories. He gets to hear it all, but he also gets to hear their inflections. This has helped his speech tremendously.
Fear is a Liar
I lived in fear. Now, I am armed with Truth and knowledge. By being armed, it has given me clarity and understanding. Learn all you can about something you are afraid of. You are strong, brave, kind, and good. We no longer live in fear. We are empowered!
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 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.
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 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.
Here is a Kindergarten Agenda. Please realize, this is what *I* teach my kids…if they do not master a concept, we do it until they do, regardless of if they are in K or in 12th grade. I have many kids with learning disabilities, so keep that in mind also.
Sight Words (Dolch word list)
Bob Books, beginning readers
Calendar and weather
Simple math (addition, subtraction)
Learning about different cultures (food, clothes, houses, family)
Community helpers (adding in field trips to those places)
Leaf collections and learning about different types of trees
Continuing on our rote memorization from Preschool
This is a simple Kindergarten Agenda that you can go by in order to help prepare your child. It is a simple list that can definitely be added to or some things have taken off. Depending on the child is what I add to this already good list of things to teach.
New School Year: New Outlook. This year, I will have 1 married and graduated college; 1 will be a junior in college and preparing for her marriage; 1 junior, 1 senior, 2 in 6th grade, and a preschooler.
What on Earth??????!!!!!!!!! I have been homeschooling for 19 years.
That does not even seem possible. I’ve always been a semester at a time kind of chick and I never dreamed I would HS for this long. Last year was tough, not gonna lie. I was a slacker, but the kids did finish up their stuff. Hunter was diagnosed with OMS in June 2017. That just encompassed our lives. This year, we are moving forward and being more aggressive (or back to normal, last year was just not normal).
Noah will still be working. He will do the first half of this senior year as normal…he will take the ACT again. Once that score gets to where it needs to be, he will be on target for college. **Excuse me while I lay in a fetal position while eating cheese and crying.** Grayce will be tackling 10th grade. Realistically, it will be more of a middle school review and freshman work. She has hit a bit of a plateau in some areas. She excels in others. She has FASD, so we push as far as we can push, but we make sure she has life skills and the basics down. We are looking into Job Corp or Cosmetology school for her, for her future.
Daniel should be in the 7th grade, but he is behind. He is considered MMD (mild mental deficiency) and FASD. He is also dyslexic, so he has always been an uphill battle. I have a curriculum for him, that is specific for kids with dyslexia. I’m going to supplement that with a ton of history (his strength), some science, Bible, and he is pretty on target for his math. It is getting tougher, so we will just really make sure he has down pat what he knows. Jude is on target, so we will trudge forward and try to keep his emerging tween attitude at bay.
And the Wee One
Hunter, I have some stuff for him, but he’s learning will all be memorization and lots of reading. His memory is affected by OMS and he can’t hold a pencil, so writing is out of the question. He will also have his 3 hr therapies, once a week.
I hope to get up the curriculum that I will be using, this year. I also want to add in some freebie sites that we will be using or even free apps. I have ideas swirling and twirling around in my brain…just got to get it all out on paper and then I can write about it.
Here is my Word of the Year 2018. I have never heard of a “Word of the Year” before. One day, I was looking at youtube. There were a lot of people on there announcing their word of the year. I watched a few of them and I thought what an interesting concept. Then, I let the thought pass through my head, and life went on.
Life with Special Needs Kids
Yesterday evening, around supper and after supper…I felt myself feeling extremely overwhelmed. We have some behavior challenged kids, we have some manipulative kids who choose to lie at every bend in life, we have some kids who just need to do a little growing up, and then there is Hunter….our Zebra.
After a day of “who peed in the garbage can? Is that poop smeared in the floor? Where is Iron Man’s hat?” Hunter decided to have an epic meltdown. One of our kids, who is genuinely very good with him, also coddles him. He doesn’t even get a chance to begin a steroid rage because she is trying to fix it. She wants to make it better or shut his pie hole by giving in to everything he wants or desires.
We’ve had long discussions over this and how she isn’t helping him by giving in to him. He has to be taught how to deal with these rages because they are a direct byproduct of his condition of Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome. She doesn’t get it, so we have this conversation a lot.
Working Out of the Lower Part of My Brain
Tonight has been no different than any other night since his diagnosis except I felt like I was going to explode. I wasn’t angry….just heartbroken. I sat and watched him try to get a piece of food on his fork. He was encouraging his food saying “come on…get on my fork….come on.”
After a few minutes, he flung his fork and said: “I can’t do this…I’m too shaky.” I thought I was going to have to leave the table. My strong 3 yr old could not coax his food onto his fork….therefore he was giving up and would rely on someone else to feed him. His fit was not over the fact he could not feed himself. His fit was over his OCD (thank you high dose steroids given to him when he didn’t need it) tendencies. Everything and everyone not being in its proper place can lead to a meltdown.
Discipline at its Finest
We told him to sit on the step, while we all tried to continue eating and ignoring him. He screams this wild animalistic scream…not a typical 3 yr old fit. He goes wild-eyed and stiffens his body. It is the strangest thing. He finally stops and says he is all done and is ready to join us and eat dinner.
I texted my sister (his Mamaw) with one word “overwhelmed”. There are just days when I don’t feel like I can say another word. Do another task. Feed another bite without getting overwhelmed. It is simply heartbreaking to see my child deal with these symptoms and even more heartbreaking to know that the longer he is symptomatic, the more likely his brain damage will be permanent.
Will he have OCD forever? Possibly, will he have ADHD forever? Or, will he have a low IQ? Will he consistently have behavior issues? I don’t know the answer to any of this. All I know is he is no better than when we began the journey on June 6, 2017.
After I got done texting my sister, I looked down at my phone and my brother called. My first thought was “what’s wrong? who died? what has happened?” He doesn’t call me. So, I checked my messages and he had sent me a design idea for our bathroom renovation that we will hopefully get approved. I called to talk with him about it and then as soon as he said answered the phone. Then, I lost all sense of propriety.
I cried…it was ugly. So bad he kept saying he couldn’t understand me. Once I got out my frustrations, he said God knew that he needed to call me tonight. He told me to pray, that God has this and it is going to be okay. That there are other people out there who are worse off than we are and to have faith.
Who Are You and What Have You Done with my Brother?
It’s like….what the heck has happened? I don’t even recognize him. As he talked and he started being silly to get me laughing…I felt like warm water was being poured over me and I instantly collected myself. I was reminded that this was the year of my rainbow and God had made it a little bit bigger by having my brother, whom I have not had a good relationship with over the years, calm my storm. God used him and his words to eases my fears, to talk to me straight, and to guide me back to the cross.
So…back to my Word of the Year 2018…..RAINBOW is my word. I’m going to try and recognize each blessing….whether big (like brother calling) or small (like cleaning my oven) and I’m going to write it down….each blessing is a part of the rainbow that God is showing me, this year.
I find that the end of the day has rolled around and I have nothing to show for it. Sadly, Time is Slipping Away. That is the thought that swirls and twirls through my mind. In reality, I know that that isn’t true, but I look around my house and think “how can it *still* smell like pee?
Yes…I said that.
I’m looking at my brand spanking new carpet cleaner, right now. It is perched in the corner of my living room. It is so sparkly and shiny that I don’t want to dull that shine with the muck of filthy carpets and dog hair.
Plus…I am sort of famous for catching 8 vacuum cleaners on fire…within 6 months of each other. Don’t ask cause I just don’t know. I think they all get together and decide they can’t handle the 6 kids, Big Daddy, and all these dogs….so they just sacrifice their little lives and self combust in a last-ditch effort to being used too much.
I feel like that, someday….that I just need to self-combust and call it a day.
Sorry, squirrel moment.
The reality is is that child one is rarely home. She flits in and out of this house like a bandit, in the night. When she is home, she talks so fast (to catch me up on life) that I only catch every third word. I find myself, more times than not, just nodding and smiling. I have no idea what I’m nodding and smiling to..but it is my effort to try and listen.
Child two is 17 and is finding her way. She is busy right now with finishing schoolwork, babysitting 4 days a week, volunteering one day a week and she just got hired, part-time and that training will be starting this week, as well.
Child three does well to just manage her behaviors and her choices. I’m proud to say that she is caught up and doing well in her schoolwork and she has been on an upswing, lately..which for a child that struggles with RAD, this is a good good GOOD thing. There are still moments and those moments suck the life right out of all of us…but we are learning (after 8 years) to manage, admit poor choices, don’t blame others, apologize, and move on.
Child four has baseball two to three times a night. In one town, while child six has baseball two to three times a week in a separate town. I can’t even begin to describe the logic behind that decision because it is too complicated.
Child five has just completed his Special Olympics track event (he won first in the 100m dash and 2nd in the softball throw). That practice was weekly and the Regionals was an all-day event. He has qualified for state, but probably won’t be attending because it is a three-day event in June and I don’t want him to go unattended. He will be starting karate, soon…so there is another couple of nights out of the week.
Large Family Busyness
So, between therapy, doctor’s appointments, hearing aid appointments, cooking, schooling, cleaning…I know that I have not been idle. It is just this house. This morning, I was looking at the MOUNDS of paperwork yet to be filed because…well…I just haven’t had time (or the desire), so I’ve been piling it up for far too long. I was determined, today, to tackle that project.
As you can see, because I’m blogging, I didn’t get too far. I do have it sorted and maybe sort of (completely) strung from one side of my bedroom to the next. It is organized chaos. I will get it done. I know I will. Eventually, I will get it done.
Blogging to Pass Time
For now, I sit here…blogging…looking at my sparkly carpet cleaner smiling at me. I have about 4 unfinished projects because I can’t focus long enough to get one completed. I have our vacation looming over us and I’m nowhere near prepared for that undertaking (first massive vacation taken as a family of 8…for 10 days…God help me). Speech wraps up for kid five, this week…we have a couple of weeks off and then it will a two-week trek to therapy where I will sit for 2 hours while he works. Go ahead, covet…I know you want to.
My dog smells like fish. The carpet smells like urine. Alas, my toenails need to be painted. Sadly, my bedroom has been overtaken by paperwork. Lola ate my recipes (literally), and I have snot. Lots and lots of snot.
I’ll get something finished today. I will and I know that eventually, I will.