A mom’s advice: I think my child has a learning disability. What should I do?
Fighting for our children should be a full time job. I have four children, two of which have ADHD and were diagnosed as dyslexic, not to be confused with dumb, in denial, or desperate to get under their parent’s skin.
In the past, I thought my family was divided into two sections, driven to succeed in life, and driven to get to the remote first.
Convinced that they were either belligerent or hard of hearing, I had them screened for hearing aids. Nope. Then I thought, okay, just forgetful.
This led me to my next investment, organizing tools. I spent a fortune organizing them to a point where they couldn’t go to the bathroom without filling out a report. Ten years later, I look back and wish I knew then what I know now. My kids have been tested, and retested.
As a mother, I suspected issues. I knew they were smart kids- I just understood where the gap was between speaking in front of an audience of 50 and remembering their homework for school.
Charismatic and theatrical, they could engage an audience. Tying their shoes and remembering their lunch money resulted in one failed attempt followed by another. Finally I had them tested for ADHD, which seemed to be prescribed as often as the common cold. “There is no doubt,” Dr. Wentworth shared. “Your kids definitely have ADHD."
So what would I do next? Perhaps get a 504 and let them be the monkey in the zoo at school? Should I put them on medication and hope that they didn’t develop addiction issues? Either way, I was afraid I would lose.
Then came the wakeup call. Going into my daughter’s room at midnight, I would physically make her go to bed, staying in her room until she was sleeping. What I didn’t realize was that she would set her alarm for 3 a.m. so she could continue to study. She was afraid of being humiliated if she didn’t know the answers. The reality was that she could not compete. There just weren’t enough hours in the day.
She would have to study 3 hours compared to her schoolmates’ 45 minutes. SAT's were quickly approaching and my AP student’s short-term memory was scoring at 10 percent. She needed help. My only hope was medication conjoined with behavior modification therapy, and a coach that would help her stay focused and on task. Once the program began, we started to see drastic differences. She rarely forgot things. She paid attention in class. She worked far less to achieve more. After three failed attempts for extra time on her SAT’s. She went through her third screening and was diagnosed as Dyslexic.
Her SAT grades went from 1400 to 2000 overnight with the extra time granted. It was all coming together. Should I be happy that we had this breakthrough or sad that she had struggled for so many years?
My son ended up on the same schedule. His life changed dramatically as well. Rolling down the line, my current struggle is with child number three, who has fallen through the cracks. With 22 days left before her next ACT, she has tested with the same results as my other two.
The only difference is that her clinician will not diagnose her with dyslexia. Without that well-funded, broad-based code, the ACT and SAT have rejected her request for extra time. My fight continues. Phone calls, letters, documents and emails follow one after the other.
How did our parents do this? Why don’t I remember anything other than a kick in the butt to get outside and play? Yet, they emerged victorious.
Then, there's me. Armed with boxing gloves and a blowtorch, each day brings new challenges. I think I will go back to 1965. It was much easier then.
For more stories with Wendy visit her at www.lifewithwendy.com.