Friday, May 7, 2010
Being a mom changes the way you look at the world. Being the mom of a child with a learning difference more so. I hate the phrase learning disability. My child can learn, he just learns in a different way. His way does not fit into the assembly line method we call public education.
It has been a long battle to get where he/we are today. We knew there was something going on in kindergarten but got the classic response, "He's a boy. They take longer." That wasn't an answer but an excuse to not look into things. Even after we got the diagnosis of dyslexia, it took three years before the school district would address it. By then, his educational foundation was shaky. If you were building a house, you wouldn't want that foundation holding up your house. Those years were spent full of outbursts caused by frustration. My son felt his teachers thought he was stupid. He said he knew he was smart inside, he just couldn't show it outside. I learned I had to become an expert on dyslexia and be his advocate. I used to joke that my name was written on the wall at school under Pain in the _ _ _. There were days I had to physically take my son into the school because he didn't want to go. He often pleaded with me to home school him. We both relished the weekends and summer when school wasn't in session to give us a much needed break from the stress of school and low expectations. Finally, in the the fifth grade my son got a teacher who got it. In fact, she lived it with her own daughter. Under her guidance, my son started to soar and believe in his ability. She looked him straight in the eye and told him he was smart. She even told him how smart by telling him his IQ. He began to excel under her guidance. I compared him to a kite. His teacher was giving him more and more string so he could soar. It was the greatest gift a teacher could have given him. He continued to soar in middle school until eighth and ninth grade when the teachers started to pull in the string and lower the expectations. Once again, I went into advocate role. I had to fight to get him into the higher level courses he so desperately wanted to take. Thanks to the support of some of his teachers, his sophomore year has been a success.
My son is intelligent and highly creative. He is a gifted artist and musician. He is a history buff and soaks up information like a sponge. He is finally starting to believe all of this.
This morning, I dropped him off at school and wished him luck on his AP History test. I smiled as I noticed a kite flying across the way. It seemed fitting today.