My oldest is now 14 years old. Which in and of itself is crazy. But this story, his story, and subsequently his brothers' story, began many years ago. In an attempt to maintain some anonymity for the boys, I will refer to them with their nicknames. Nicknames that they gave themselves!
The big one, is "Cheese", the next one is "Squidy", and finally "Stampy".
In 2007, "Cheese" was in preschool and towards the end of the school year I went in for parent/teacher conferences. It was then that the preschool teacher shared with me some concerns about how "Cheese" was learning, or not learning, really. At the time, she was quite worried that he may have a processing issue. I must admit that I left the meeting thinking "you are a crazy woman, the kid is three!, there is nothing wrong with him!".
We did decide for a completely different reason to pull him out of that preschool (a post for another time) but because it was already late in the spring most of the spots for the fall were filled. I had identified a school though and we decided to try to do some "preschool" type things at home and cross our fingers that in January there would be an opening.
The school year began and Cheese and I began working during his brothers' nap time. We talked about the letters. Made letter crafts. Talked about the sounds those letters made. At the time, I did notice that despite our time together and the "hands on" learning we were doing, he often confused letters and numbers when asked about them out of the context of our "school" day.
This was the first real concern that I noticed. Then we spent most of October learning the colors. Cheese was proud of himself. He could identify all of them! Then about a month later he forgot them. All of them. So, we taught them again. Then, once again he "lost" them.
At this point, we began talking with my husband's mom, she then shared a story, that at the time she did not think anything of but now she wondered if it was significant. One time when she had dropped Cheese off for school, she noticed that Cheese could not identify his name. She had also noticed that it appeared that the other children his age could find their names. We put this information in the back of our minds and sat on it. Taught him his colors again, which once again he did not retain.
Armed with my background in Social Work, I began to think that this little guy needed to have some testing done. Maybe that preschool teacher was right.
I don't remember now who the gal was who came to our home. She was a professional of sorts. I don't even remember how I was referred to her. But she came in and did a little assessment with Cheese. When she was done she recommended that he have a full scale educational evaluation. It was her opinion that he may have some significant learning differences. My husband and I did not believe this, of course. I mean really, she was not a psychologist. What did she know.
We did schedule him for that evaluation though. The diagnosis came back as "Language Processing Disorder" and "Sensory Processing Disorder". At the time, when the psychologist was explaining the diagnosis, I specifically suggested that Dyslexia runs in my family, and was it possible that what Cheese had was dyslexia. He assured me that it was NOT dyslexia.
Wanting to help in any way, we signed him up for everything we could. He was in speech therapy twice a week, occupational therapy once a week and they recommended a preschool that they felt would really help him.
We were plugging away. Then my husband was transferred for work.
We moved and found speech therapists and occupational therapists and a preschool that was similar to the one he was in. This is when the story gets really fun. We began working with the new speech therapist.
Oh, it is important to mention that the little boys are now three and have been diagnosed with a gross motor delay and a speech delay. Now, all three boys are in speech therapy.
I mentioned above that this gets fun - well here it goes. The new speech therapist worked with Cheese for a couple of months and then came to me and indicated that he needed to be tested again. I was a little confused. I knew enough about that testing that he could not be tested too often because it would invalidate future testing. The therapist assured me that it would be okay and that the psychologist she was referring us to would do different tests.
So, the little boys and I packed up and waited in the waiting room for Cheese while he was tested for the second time. This time the psychologist came back with the same diagnosis. Once again, I inquired about the possibility that Cheese could have dyslexia, once again I was assured that it was not. Cheese did have an additional diagnosis though, Attention Deficit Disorder and the psychologist recommended that Cheese be put on medication. We were mortified. Medication? That did not seem right.
Cheese was in a Montessori School at this point and his teacher did not agree with the diagnosis. After a family meeting and some research we decided that we would not begin medication at this time but we would be open to the idea if he needed it when he began first grade. Remember the "fun" I mentioned? Well, the speech therapist indicated that my husband I were terrible parents for making this decision and that we were impeding his ability to learn.
It was not long after that exchange that we changed speech therapists.
Then it was clear we needed to move again, move back to the southwest because our home there was not selling. We had reached a point that we needed to do something and it made sense with all that was going on to move back to be near family.
As we were getting things going again in the southwest, we started with a new speech therapy company who wanted to do more testing! I of course agreed and then things became really interesting.
The therapist came back with the results and indicated that he was concerned that Cheese may never learn to read. That Cheese may never learn to read. I picked myself up off the floor of my closet and pulled myself together enough to face the boys, who were now wondering why I was in the closet, I entered the bedroom with these sweet boys staring up at me. It was surreal. Never learn to read? How could this be? What would this mean for him? I don't believe it. I called my mother-in-law. I was sobbing. She supported us and indicated that everything would be okay. Everything would be okay.
Fast forward to now. The boys were finally diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Unfortunately, it was not all fun and games once we actually had a proper diagnosis and began specific reading instruction. I wish I could share that once we knew what was going on for the boys everything was great and the specialized tutors helped our boys to learn to read. It did not go like that.
Oh yeah, and at some point we began homeschooling!!
There is more to come, little did we know what that would entail.