Hello. On this page you would find some recollections and experiences relating to dyslexia. I thought it would be a good idea to share some experiences with you. I am a mom of a dyslexic son. This is our journey.
It was homework time and I sat on the bed with my seven-year-old son. We had his basal reader in hand and his homework was to read a particular passage.
There were approximately six paragraphs and it was about a birthday party. My son couldn’t read it. I did the usual – I prompted him to use his phonics to ‘sound out’ the words. He couldn’t do that. I kept at it patiently, convincing myself that he did know his letter sounds. Of course he did. He had gone to Pre-School, he had passed First and Second Year Infants and was now in Standard One. He knew his letter sounds. How could he not? Not one teacher so far had told me that there might be a problem.
Eventually the complete frustration showed on his face and tears flowed as he cried, “Mom I can’t read!”
I fought to hold back the tears as his flowed, making feeble attempts to comfort and encourage him. “You can do it. You just have to go slowly. Don’t worry. Of course you can read.”
Truth be told, alarm bells were going off in my head and over the next few days I let it soak it. It wasn’t the first sign as he always seemed to be a bit frustrated with work in the Language area.
Realization came slowly. My son couldn’t read. Worse yet, I was a teacher and my son couldn’t read.
I knew little about Dyslexia. I knew it had something to do with reversal of letters and numbers – just about what the layman knows. I knew there was a Dyslexia Association in Trinidad (don’t ask me how) but I had had no communication with them before. I got in touch with them and they graciously sent me some information in the mail.
As I sat reading, my jaw dropped. I thought as a parent I had caught on early enough to get my son the help he might need, and I did but my son had signs from even earlier in his life. These things I would never had connected to a learning challenge. It had brought me to the conclusion and it is what I share with friends and family – “Dyslexia is not an academic challenge; it is a life challenge.”
These are some of the early signs my son had shown:
– Delayed speech
My son cried so much as a baby and toddler that we used to say, “He has figured out that crying works better and faster so why speak.” I didn’t sweat it at the time.
– Mispronunciation of many words
When he did start speaking, this darling child used to call me fru-weet-heart (sweetheart). As he grew, he mispronounced many words. Words like family would be falimy and so on.
No alarm bells went up. You see, I had read somewhere that children who were bottle-fed needed a bottle nipple with a small hole in order to exercise the jaw and mouth. It was said that lack of this exercise could affect children’s speech later on. So I spoon fed my son his cereal and bottle fed him his milk. The nursery however, apparently didn’t have the time so they put the cereal in the milk and bore a large hole in the nipple. Every time I saw it I would send a new nipple and they would just puncture it again. I am still sure that this may have contributed but there was something else I didn’t see.
– Not recalling names/sounds of letters
I noticed this at home and expressed it to his pre-school teacher who assured me that he knew it. His teacher was always surprised when I told her that he didn’t know the sounds or the names. Since she was a great teacher I didn’t worry. I thought it was his way of showing that he didn’t like to do ‘school work’ at home.
– Not understanding instructions or making connections
Giving my son a time-out was no easy task. He would sit for one minute then ‘disappear.’ When I called him back and explained that he had to sit he would respond, “But I did!” It was funny at times. No alarms went up.
– No sense of spatial/ directional concepts
My dear son could not tie laces nor tell left from right. I once looked down in church and noticed a left shoe on his right foot. As I was about to tell him that he had them on wrong, I noticed a left shoe on his left foot. He had put on one of his and one of his brother’s shoes! Two left sides. I tried to show him how to match up the shape of his foot with the shoe or slipper but that didn’t work. We practiced tying for a long time in the real Montessori way but to no avail.
At a young age, some things just seemed funny or cute but they were warning signs. I don’t regret anything, since it is better not to jump to conclusions about children’s learning statuses before age five at least, but now I know.
At the age of seven I took my son to get an assessment. The Dylexia Association of Trinidad and Tobago had given me the contact information for a teacher who did such assessments. My husband, my son and I went to this lady’s home. She was very pleasant and positive. I sat there and looked on as she administered several tests to my son. He seemed to be doing pretty well on them.
The tests were strange to me. How could the drawing of a man tell you whether a child was dyslexic or not?
Later, she explained each test to me, what she was looking for and so on. As expected, my son scored well below his age in Reading, Writing and Spelling. He was rather astute in visual discrimination but sequencing was a problem. I do not recall all the results but the word was that my son may be a late bloomer with mild dyslexia. I had hope that he would “kick in” a little later than his peers.
I left feeling good. I had done something about his challenge and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. We were wrong.