Saturday, August 28, 2010

The fear that I am facing

Let's just get this over with. I have been agonizing over it, panicking and just generally freaking the hell out to even admit this, but here I go. She can't read. There, I said it. Call Social Services now. She is 9 years old, on the autism spectrum, home schooled and she can't read.

Ok, she can read a little bit. Like C-V-C words. Three letters, four. Not difficult combinations. So what the heck do I do all day, right? Since my kid can't read? And I am responsible? And I sit on the Internet all day? Whoah. Let's back the truck up, Jack. I have been homeschooling my children for 6 years now, and I am good at it. My eldest daughter is amazing, and gifted. My son has great spatial relations and comes up with some of the most interesting questions. And then? There is my youngest daughter.

If you have been reading very long, you know she is a complex enigma. She is smart. There is no getting around that. When she sits to do school work, I have to pry her away from it. She works really hard. She also has amazing imaginary skills. I would say she often lives in her imaginary world. Most of the time it works. We don't forbid her from doing what she likes, like playing with Playmobil and small figures.

But, she can't read. I used to think it was me...I was doing something wrong. I teach her the same way I taught my son. And teaching him was a challenge, because not only is he on the autism spectrum, he is also dyslexic. I had to learn a completely different way to teach. But it has paid off, for the most part. I was doing computer programs with my youngest, sitting together to read, doing a multi-sensory tile-based phonics program, and she still was not progressing. And that's when she told me.

"Mama, when I read, the words and letters move all over the page." Aha! I had long suspected dyslexia, now I had some idea that was part of the problem. I took her to her speech teacher (What? you didn't know she took speech?) and told her the problem. I told her I was thinking of eye therapy, and that we were headed in for an evaluation. She agreed that was a good idea.

The eye evaluation simply confirmed what I already knew. Her eyes have a difficult time tracking together, and her depth perception is off. Luckily, this can be corrected. It isn't that she cannot read because she can't...she can't read because her eyes aren't working together.

She sees her eye therapist every week. She sees her speech teacher every week. And with luck, and a A LOT of hard work (we have 20 minutes of eye exercises every day) her eyes will improve. When that happens, she will be able to read. I hope. Of course, there is a nagging fear that she will never know what it is like to pick up a book with ease and while away the afternoon. That maybe, though we are all good readers in this house, she will continually struggle and never really take off. That fear makes me want to curl into a fetal position and never move. But you know that's just not the way I roll. I will make this latest hurdle my bitch, the way I always do. And you'd best believe that I (along with her speech/reading teacher) will make sure she catches up. You will be one of the first to know when that happens.

posted from my iPad

10 sent chocolate:

Bronnie Marquardt said...

My son went through the same thing. I read to him since he was a wee newborn, because I knew that was the right thing to do. And I read before I started school, and I write for a career. I was stunned when my son couldn't read. He also in on the autism spectrum, has ASD, spatial difficulties, the lot. He finally 'got it' when he was 8 when we were living in NZ, and the school got him one on one help every day, while I continued doing what I was doing at home. He know LOVES reading, thank God, and was ahead of his peers in a matter of months.
But don't get me started on his handwriting. He just can't do it. He can get spellings and tables right if he's allowed to do it on the computer, but not if he has to hand write it. His doctors, psychologists etc believe he will never have good handwriting skills, and should be allowed to work on a computer, but his current teacher won't allow it. It's hard, but we learn to accept what he can do and help develop those skills, and perservering with the rest. Maybe one day the switch will come on, as it did for readin.g And I hope that happens for your daughter. xo

Janet Isserlis said...

hey. i teach adult literacy and while i'm not a kid reading expert, I do see enough in what your daughter CAN do and in her strengths and smarts that all seem to point to something - eyes, wiring, whatever - that are challenging you all in figuring out how to read. she might learn really differently - as you're learning. and a lot of it might entail trial and error. a bunch of people are advocating for alternate technologies ('smart' encoding/decoding) - woudn't presume to know or guess what will be useful to you all, but hoping you're find reading/teaching support as you go . glad to look at/for some if that would be useful to as you move forward..

Al_Pal said...

Ooof, that sounds really tough.
Best Wishes. I love reading & I imagine that would be a very difficult situation for me, too.

Tony Letts said...

1. Problem
2. Find reason for problem
3. Solve problem

Good luck with stage 3 :)

Cheryl said...

Tina, you are AWESOME MOM for even admitting this. And I'll bet ya mucho dinero that you've just helped someone who was also struggling with this same challenge, maybe even several someones.

She'll get there. I know she will. Because YOU are her mom, and I know you're not the kinda gal to give up.

Mercedes said...

It's so great that she told you. It says so much about how open your communication is and how she trusts you with that kind of information. Lord willing, it will correct itself quickly.

Kim Thompson said...

I've been popping in and out to visit here and this post really created a lightbulb moment for me.My son has always struggled with reading (he's 11) and I homeschool part time. I've never even heard of an eye therapist--you see my son complained of a similar issue as your daughter did! Wow! I've got some work today to check into this.

You are a good helper!

Annette said...

So .. my kids are normal (well, not autistic) ... you know Josh, he couldn't/wouldn't read until he was 8 or 9. Because he also had to do vision therapy. Reading gave him a headache. High five for her finally telling you what the problem is. It took us a year of vision therapy and he's so damn lazy he would still rather wear glasses than do his eye exercises. Enter the beauty of audiobooks. (But he now plows through books instead of girls!)

And then there's my brother. Also refused to read until almost 10 when it suddenly clicked and he went from not being able to read to reading above grade level in a year. We thought he was dyslexic too (runs in the family), but, something just clicked according to him.

All that to say "Have no fear!" She seems like she wants to read. In the mean time, there are other ways to enjoy the written word. Audiobooks. Programs that light up the word so she'll learn to read by memorizing words. Braille. Bad movie adaptations ... and you get my drift.

Good luck! And take a deep breath!

Melanie said...

Vision therapy = awesome!

Vision therapy was recommended for our youngest when she was in Kindergarten. It was a pain in the butt, however it made a HUGE difference for her.

Like a lot of early readers, she had been constructing her own reading rules. Most of them wrong because she was creating rules based on her eyes' faulty information. We worked hard on the vision therapy. She improved her eye control dramatically. Then we went WAY back to the beginning and systematically taught her the new and improved rules of reading (letter sounds, blending, etc).

It worked for her. I was super skeptical at first, but it really worked for her.

My middle didn't really read until 3rd grade. She would memorize and spit out the words we wanted to hear...but totally not reading.

About the middle of 3rd grade, her desire for the story and perhaps her maturity and physical ability all clicked. She went from C-V-C word stories to Harry Potter. Go figure? Didn't get it then and don't get it now.

I guess, as Keb Mo, sings; there's more than one way home!

Lynn said...

Oh, I so when there is a physiological issue that can be attacked and conquered that might take care of so many other things. I've heard great things about vision therapy...

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