When I posted that there was much I couldn’t write about Zachary because I did not want to invade his privacy, many of you send supportive emails saying you were facing the same issues writing about your kids on your blogs. I invited one blogger to guest post here anonymously so that she could write about the problems her son is having without fear of reprisal for him. So, here is her post. Please, read and respond to the below guest post as you would if you were responding to something of mine. Help her with some support or ideas or answers (if you got ’em).
Having a boy means phone calls from school. Since starting first grade, J’s teacher has contacted us a couple times. Typical of a six-year-old, he never revealed there was trouble until we found out from the teacher, which resulted in some stern discussions about honesty and forthrightness.
One afternoon, after the standard, so how was your day? he breathlessly informs me it was fine and I know it was fine, so you don’t need to email [my teacher]! Red flag. I gave him the look. After a bit of finagling, he reveals there was an incident in gym where he made a very adult, very rude hand gesture at a classmate. Not surprisingly, he had no idea what it meant.
After multiple deep breaths, I sat him down and insisted he tell me WHY it happened. What had spurred such a dramatic response? I got a blank look and the standard I don’t recall. For a minute I thought I’d given birth to [insert politician’s name here].
Over an hour later he tearfully informs me that the gym teacher was giving instructions and another student was talking in his ear. Mommy, I was trying really hard to pay attention, and he just kept talking and talking. And I wanted to hear what the teacher said!
And that made you really frustrated, huh?
Do you have trouble in the classroom, hearing the instructions?
Most parents would have been immediately been discussing how out of line his response had been. How a distracting classmate does not merit an angry meltdown and an obnoxious hand gesture. How inappropriate it was (because that is our generation’s parental catch phrase).
But remember the last time you tried to have a conversation in a noisy bar? Maybe that was a long time ago, so we’ll wait … now, remember how frustrating it was? Remember how you got some of the information wrong? Remember the annoying guy at the movies that wouldn’t shut up? You wanted to make an obnoxious hand gesture didn’t you? Now imagine that your entire day is like that.
Like many parents of a child with a learning difference, I’ve known for a long time that something was off, different, an issue. Little things are coalescing into a bigger picture. Just a little speech therapy for an articulation problem here. A little OT for some fine motor delay there. Some clumsiness here, a bit of social awkwardness there. What it all adds up to is a very loved (yet at times very frustrating), and very bright little boy who will face a challenging time.
Most likely my son has an auditory processing disorder, along with some visual processing problems. He is behind in reading. He has difficulty paying attention. He has trouble following directions. He has a poor concept of time management. He is not savvy in the social element of elementary school. He cannot ride a two-wheeler bike. He does not understand knock-knock jokes.
Although there have been preliminary evaluations, we have not embarked on complete educational testing, that will come in time. Right now we are feeling our way forward. Getting outside help. Dancing around the system. Getting ready for the day we need to push for more.
I think facing this is, and will continue to be, my biggest challenge as a parent — maybe even in my life. The more I learn about his problems, the more certain aspects of our life make sense. The spill over for kids with LDs goes far beyond book learning. Social and interpersonal skills are impacted equally, and at this age these deficits feel even more prominent than his delayed reading or poor penmanship. I try to share this with my husband – school him on the need for patience, more realistic expectations. And yet the next day, I find myself losing it over the exact same issues.
We are fortunate. Our son is bright and enthusiastic about learning. He enjoys school (so far). He will certainly be able to finish high school and likely go on to college. However this is going to be a bumpy road. And I worry about some pretty big pot holes. There are days it makes me angry to have to deal with it, sad to see him face it, reluctant to give up more of myself to it. At a time I thought I’d be rejoicing in his independence, I’m worrying about hours spent advocating, tutoring and remediating. That makes me feel selfish, like a bad mother. Will I fail him? Will his younger siblings lose out? Will our marriage suffer? What if he learns to read, but not to really make friends? How do I explain his social awkwardness to others without penalizing him? He needs greater consideration in some areas, but do I really need to brand him LD to everyone? What is the right thing to do? I hate the uncertainty.