And then the thought struck me like lightening, "I wonder if he's dyslexic?"
I'm not sure exactly what it was that made this thought jump into my head, but I like to think it was revelation from God. I had never had any experience with dyslexia, outside of the shallow assumption that people with dyslexia read things backwards or upside down.
Liam wasn't reading things backwards or upside down, not really. It wasn't just a struggle with phonemic awareness either. He knew all of the letter sounds and could tell me what the letter sounds were when quizzed on them. He recognized a majority of the letters and we were told by a reading teacher that his reversing p and q, b and d were normal, and nothing to worry about. He would sound out a word in the right direction, "/k/ /a/ /t/" but the say "/tcat/" or "/tac/" and it was different every time. Sometimes he'd get it right, but oftentimes when he came to a word that he was less familiar with, it was like he was trying to read greek. He even sometimes substituted a word like "house" when "home" was written. There was a lot of guessing what was written instead of trying to decode what was actually on the page. We covered the same things over and over again, and he knew the lessons, but couldn't seem to quite put them into practice.
For lack of a better word, reading with Liam was strange. It was hard, and it was strange. Writing was the same. He could do it, but it was strange and it was hard. Harder than it should have been. His math skills were well above grade level. He had no trouble with comprehension IF he was read to, but he struggled on his own. Complex science concepts came easily to him. He had excellent spatial reasoning, and no trouble with motor skills. He had a mild speech delay, but nothing to be worried about just yet. He just struggled with reading and writing.
On the third day of trying to complete this test which should have only taken an hour or two, that thought was like being electrocuted. I immediately told the kids we were done with school for the day, and I jumped down a rabbit hole. What if he was dyslexic? How could I tell? What could I do? What did this mean?
The more I read, the more it became clear to me that he was dyslexic. For weeks, I struggled with this emotionally. As a great lover of all things books and reading, it was devastating to me to think that he might never read a chapter book from cover to cover. Literacy is the face of intelligence, or so they say, so how was my brilliant boy ever going to be recognized for being so bright if he couldn't read or write about it? My initial fears were real and visceral. I cried several times over several months as I learned more about dyslexia and what it meant for my son and my family. BUT the more I learned, the more peace I found, too.
We have not sought out an official diagnosis, because it is expensive and unnecessary at this point, because we homeschool. However, we have done the screenings. It's funny because the teachers always start out thinking, "Oh, this kid is just fine. See how he performs well in these first tests?" By the end of the screening though, every single one of them says, "Oh, yes. I'm pretty sure he's dyslexic, but I can't give an official diagnosis."
I spent months coming to terms with our new reality. Our reality is that Liam will probably always struggle with reading and writing, and there are some things we can do to help. Our reality is that he loves books. He loves learning. He just doesn't like struggling to read. My son is not dumb, or malformed, or going to miss out on opportunities because of it. Now the struggle is finding a balance between supporting his learning in multiple subjects by reading or writing for him, and stretching him to do it for himself.
For anyone facing the same struggle, I recommend the following resources:
"Fish in a Tree" by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
"The Dyslexic Advantage" by Brock L. Eide, MD MA and Fernette F. Eide, MD
There are of course more, but these are a good place to start.
I have been homeschooling my children for about four years (six if you include preschool years!) and I love every moment. Even the hard ones. Homeschool is a family affair, and family is my everything.
*** Disclaimer: I am currently a full-time homeschooling mom of three beautiful children, a homesteader with animals and a garden to care for, an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Relief Society President in my ward. I am building this page as I find time, so please bear with me if things seem sparse around here for a little while! ***
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