A 24-hour look at life with a dyslexic child
Recently, I went into my son’s room to wake him up for school. Being tired, he protested a bit. I told him I understood but it was time to get up and have a good day. He replied that he wouldn’t have a good day. In fact, throughout the entire morning, he talked about not having a good day.
Yes, it sounds dramatic. Kids can be dramatic. But this wasn’t about drama. It wasn’t about my son being difficult. It was because that day meant more assessment testing in reading. And he was trying so hard on the test, yet not being effective at it. This is life with dyslexia.
On the way home from school the previous day, he told me he silently cried in his head while working on his test. His teacher told the class not to guess their answers, but he just couldn’t read the text and was stressed. He describes the letters as looking slanted, shaky or both. This is life with dyslexia.
That same day I reassured him that all we want is for him to do his best. I reminded him that his dad, his teacher, his school and I know the challenges he has with reading. And we all just want him to do his best. Without missing a beat, he replied that his best isn’t good enough. My heart cracked. This is life with dyslexia.
On the same afternoon, I got a call from the special education coordinator at school seeking more information before we have a meeting to discuss how to best help my son. She needed me to scan and send in a 25-page report about him. This is life with dyslexia.
That evening he was working on a project with his dad building rockets. The kit had a small booklet with information in it about outer space. I mentioned my son could read parts of it instead of having my husband read it all. Without even looking at the text, my son declared it was above his level. This is life with dyslexia.
Still the same evening, my daughter asked whether my son had spelling words, yet. I told her not so far. Then I got a pit in my stomach. Spelling tests are so difficult. All last year as we did virtual schooling, I saw my son work so hard on spelling words. He went over and over them. We got creative with how we practiced them. Then he would get to the test and all the spellings flew out of his head. Sometimes spelling tests ended in tears and often they ended with him beating himself up over all the words he had missed. This is life with dyslexia.
After I saw my son off to school the morning that he insisted would be a bad day, I prayed. I prayed for strength for him. I asked God to be with him. Seeing your child struggle is beyond difficult. Knowing that he is in for a tough time as you send him out the door is heart-wrenching. I want to wrap my arms around him and never let him go. But that wouldn’t help him most in the end. This is life with dyslexia.
Not long after he left, I read my devotion book, and two things struck me. One there is a passage where Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as our Advocate (John 16:7). My son needs an advocate right now, so that really stuck out to me. God has him covered. And then in the devotion book was a reminder that when we let loved ones go, we can trust that God is covering and taking care of them even more than we are able to. I thanked God for that reminder I so desperately needed. This is life with dyslexia.
As I headed into my office that day, I started thinking about how to help my son. I want him to fly and not fall. His teacher mentioned earlier in the week that the school is short on aides right now, so she wasn’t sure if someone would even be available read his math test to him if needed. I wondered if I’d be allowed to go into school and read things to him in that situation. I actually looked to see if the school had jobs for aides posted. Because I would apply in a heartbeat if I knew it would help my son. This is life with dyslexia.
For the past year, I’ve been doing research. I’ve been learning all I can about dyslexia. I know more now than I did previously, but I don’t feel like I know enough. Can I ever know enough? Probably not. To me, reading has always been a source of joy. I love reading, writing and words in general. Etymology excites me. Grammar makes me happy. Reading a good book is how I relax. Knowing reading and all that goes with it is a source of stress and frustration for my son breaks my heart. This is life with dyslexia.
I also know resources are available to help my son. Dyslexia fonts are available for ebooks. My son has tried such a font and agreed it was easier to read for him. There are audio books. Technology offers talk-to-text. I am thankful for these resources while at the same time sad that we need them. This is life with dyslexia.
I don’t know what the future will hold. I know this school year holds stress ahead. My son is in third grade, which has two standardized tests along with the three usual math and reading assessment progress tests. My heart sinks thinking of the challenges that are coming for him. This is life with dyslexia.
Thankfully we have a school that I think is going to do well in helping him with his challenges. I am impressed with our school in so many ways. We have a meeting coming up, but I don’t really know what to expect. I’m doing yet more research so I know what to even ask for. Mostly, I just want my son to be able to learn without so much extra stress. I know his challenges will always be there, but I have to believe we can make some accommodations for him so it won’t be as incredibly difficult. This is life with dyslexia.
For now, we will keep pressing on. I won’t stop advocating for my son and what he needs. I will be with him every single step of the way. My husband and I will continue to celebrate with him when he gets excited to read a book to us so proudly. He has grown so much, is working so hard and is reading so much better. But his challenges certainly remain. He is a persistent little dude. I have known from the beginning that once he makes up his mind to do something, it’s as good as done. That’s both a frustrating and awesome trait. Managing dyslexia will be no different. Together, our family will work to encourage him, help him, believe in him and love him through any challenge he faces. Because, this is life with dyslexia.