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Dyslexia Life

A Journey Through

My “Why”

This year I was asked to set a  yearly goal around the thought, “What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?”.  It sounds quite simple until you sit down and actually start to consider the possibilities: cure cancer, end world hunger, find two candidates for the presidential election, the list goes on and on.

I decided I wanted to set a goal which I knew I could obtain, it was centered around my family, and would benefit my professional teaching career.  I decided after long deliberation ( and eliminating shark diving) that I was eager to become an advocate for my dyslexic daughter, all her friends, her future friends, and those friends she will never meet.

Dyslexia is not a disability, it is a difference.  Dyslexics have a special way of seeing things “YLTNEREFFID”.  I strive to help parents and individuals to understand they can be as confident as our children become confident once they receive the attention and services they need to be successful.

Everlee is my “WHY”. I won’t stop educating until everyone understands just how capable the mind of a dyslexic can be.

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Day by Day

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Day by Day…everyday is different in the life of a Dyslexic, in the life of a parent, in the life of us all.  We need to take each day and prepare our hearts in order to help make a difference in the lives of others.

It’s funny how things work out and how your place of comfort and love can be a place of anxiety and fear.  It’s funny how, Captain Underpants, can become your place of comfort and joy.

It has been way too long since my last post and there are no excuses…just life moving way too fast trying to enjoy the moments.  It wasn’t until this past weekend with Everlee I had a moment of clarity, a moment where I was reminded more of her everyday struggle.  We went to the library (finally) and Everlee was so excited to check out a few books, one of them being Captain Underpants.  It’s not my version of a classic, but it is a book she enjoys to read.  She was so proud of herself and spent the weekend wrapped in her books.  It wasn’t until we headed to church on Sunday, a typical place of comfort and love, when she suddenly struck by fear, anxiety, and tears.  I have never seen Everlee so anxious. Anxious to the point where she was making herself sick.  Turns out, she was afraid of the bible, afraid to read the words, afraid to be called on to answer questions.  Scary to think how things can change so quickly, how they can change in a day.

We talked about not being afraid and to just keep believing.  This is something we can all try and remember.  We are worthy, we are accepted, we are approved.  We are becoming who we have been made to be.  There is no need to ever be ashamed.  We can only do our best and don’t withhold anything.  We need to live as though we are approved and not someone who needs to be proven.

Everlee has a new bible, one which we are reading daily to help with understanding, it’s not quite Captain Underpants but she is now more comfortable in a place where she loved.  It’s funny how things can change day by day.  I suppose this is why they say to take it just One Day at a Time.

The Story of Price

I love knowing our family isn’t the only one with a story.  A story worth sharing.  I am thrilled to introduce you to Price.  The story below was written by his mother who wanted to share their journey.

“Wow! Where do I begin? First, let me tell you all about my son, Price.  He is wide open!  He loves jumping on the trampoline and riding his bike.  He is a Weblo scout.  He is a soccer player.  He is a hunter.  He has no fear.  He taught himself how to do a back handspring, no instructions, no guidance; just threw himself backwards in the air.  If we had access to a course, I think he would be a true Ninja Warrior.  He is a super hard worker, very friendly and kind and the cutest little 10 year old red headed boy you’ve ever seen.

Here is a short summary of where our dyslexia journey all got started.  When Price started preschool I always felt like there wasn’t something quite right as he started spelling his name backwards.  In first grade, Price met all of his math goals, but was falling behind in reading. He was prepared for the second grade with the exception of his reading ability. We started getting him tutored in reading which allowed him to keep his head above water.  He made progress, but always fell short of grade level.   The summer before 3rd grade his tutor expressed concerns about Price omitting words all together when he was reading and not being phased by it.  With my husband being dyslexic and my father swearing he is dyslexic, although undiagnosed, we felt it was time to have him tested.  Immediately before 3rd grade started, we had Price tested and sure enough; an easy diagnosis of dyslexia and ADD.

Since then it has been a journey of highs and lows.  Tears of defeat, frustration, self-doubt, statements of feeling “stupid” and “why do I have to have dyslexia?”.  We think we finally get the hang of something and then he moves to the next grade and there is a new set of challenges because the work gets harder.  There have been tears of frustration and sadness from Price and from my husband and me.  With dyslexia, I think you expect school to be difficult, but what you don’t expect is the anxiety and potential low self-esteem that comes along with it.  Price has had testing anxiety, anxiety of what his peers will think if he is pulled out of class; anxiety if he thinks he will have extra homework because of classwork he hasn’t yet finished, anxiety that he will fail his grade.  The first year was the toughest, but having a supportive teacher, principal and Speech Language Pathologist (who worked with Price for six months teaching Price to break down reading from the very basics) has made a huge difference.

Price is now over half way through his fourth grade year and has another amazing teacher that is extremely supportive in helping Price succeed.  If anything I think this has been the biggest issue; making sure Price feels successful and confidant.  I actually think making sure that Price is involved in all of the modifications and accommodations, teaching him what dyslexia is and all those that have come before him who have had dyslexia and are hugely successful (a grandfather and dad who are college graduates, an uncle who is a dentist and let’s not forget Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and so many others), making sure he knows he has cheerleaders and that there is nothing to be ashamed of, has made all the difference.  We have made sure that through modifications and accommodations that he is successful in the class.  We have also learned to take it one day at a time.

Good gracious….I feel like there is so much more I could share, but I guess this is it in a summary.  Price continues to get outside help for dyslexia to improve his reading skills, but a support system that makes him feel successful is key. “

What’s Your Story?

It has been several months since I have sat down and actually focused on my blog….a lot has happened, a lot has changed, and in some areas, a lot has stayed the same.  When our family started this journey three years ago, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of loneliness.  I’m not sure I ever felt so alone and so isolated, even if in a room full people, as I did the moment Everlee was diagnosed with dyslexia.  As a teacher, I knew better, as an adult and mother, I knew there was a world full of dyslexic people just staring me in eye.  However, its amazing how you become consumed with feeling of loneliness, like, ugly cry in your closet lonely.  I had to stop and think, “If I feel this way….how does my child feel?”

Over the next month,  I want to focus on different families who all face a life with dyslexia.  A life that is actually quite amazing, rather beautiful, sometimes daunting, but in the end, a world you would never change for a million correctly spelled written words.  I hope you will read our stories, share your story, and know that we are all in this together.  In the end, it’s a “Dyslexia Life…Journey Through.”

Help a Sista (teacher) out!

As we get into the start of a new school year, I start to make a list of all the teachers whom I need to meet with to go over Everlee’s diagnosis.  I try my best to put everything into laments terms, and alleviate the fancy words from the psychological.  I still have trouble reading them and I have read hundreds.

I recently came across a “cheat sheet” which I will be creating for Everlee’s teachers so they can better understand her as a learner with one quick glance.   I want all her teachers to know her strengthens and her weaknesses without causing too much of a shift in the classroom.  There is no reason to reinvent the wheel.    I hope this chart helps make accommodations easier to implement and understand.

http://www.decodingdyslexiaor.org/resources/

It is under the header “Information Sharing and One Page Profiles” My Instructional IEP and Accommodations template.

 

Comparison and Competitiveness

As parents with newborns we are reminded over and over again about the need to not compare our children with others.  Don’t compare our children, don’t compare ourselves.  I think most of us have all made the claim, “I will never do that,” “I am so happy I don’t compare my kids.”  Well, guess what?  YOU DO!  We all do!  If we utter the words, “I don’t compare”, we all know the truth deep down within.  I think we all start off with good intentions, but we tend to fall short.  I totally compared my non-sleeping infant to every other baby who slept through the night.  What was wrong with me?  Why couldn’t I get my baby to sleep?  Why am I still carrying the baby weight when she is so skinny?  We may not make comparisons out loud, but our thoughts still count.

I have found the evilness of comparison is only worsened when you have a child who struggles with a learning difference.  Why can’t they read like the others?  Why does homework have to be a nightmare?  Why can’t I not go home just for one night so I don’t have to deal with the battle?  Why is my life hard and others have it so easy?  WHY? WHY? WHY?   Before my daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia, I used to compare her all the time and I found myself to be very competitive.  Of course, this was all a battle within my mind which was fought day after day.   I didn’t want my sweet girl to deal with a struggle, I wanted school to be easy and fun.  I wanted her to be “normal”.

I think I have become more aware of my comparison spirit and my competitive drive knowing my daughter struggles with Dyslexia.  I still compare….we all do, but we don’t always share our thoughts out loud.   Last week at church, we were faced with a sermon on INTEGRITY, where we were forced to face our demons on Comparison and Competitiveness; trying to find a balance.  I left on Sunday feeling like a failure but thanking the Lord for opening my eyes.   I have posted the clip in hopes others can open their eyes as well.  Because those of you who say “I don’t compare”, are the first to post your child’s accomplishments on social media for all to see.  There is your comparison, there you are trying to prove your child is the BEST.   Be humble.

PORT CITY COMMUNITY CHURCH

We believe that if we can just balance all of our activities and priorities then we will find true security. But, balance is a myth. It’s impossible to achieve. Trying to be everything for everyone drains us. We live a double life where we have our work life, social life, family life, leisure life and church life, just to name a few. Compartmentalizing our lives have lead to us having a fractured soul.

This weekend we started a conversation on the power of integrity. To watch the opening week of #DoubleSeries, please visit http://subsplash.com/portcitychurch/v/ws8v3q4.

#MessageHighlight #ThisWeekAtChurch #integrity #character #balance

A Parent’s Worst Nightmare!

Like most parents, I think our worst fear is seeing our children vulnerable, in a position where they feel inadequate and “not good enough”.  It is hard enough to watch when these feelings come from a learning difference, but it especially vicious when your child is made to feel this way because of another child.  A child they consider their friend.

As a parent of a dyslexic I worry about so many things, most people don’t even consider.  I worry when Ev is shuttled between two different schools, when she is pulled out of class for “extra help”, and when she she brings a script home which she needs to memorize.  Yes, a cute little 2nd grade play can send a parent like me into a tail-spin.  Thoughts running through my mind….”can she do this”, “will she be able to read all these lines they assigned to her”, “why do I not have as much faith as her teachers?”  All these thoughts crowd my mind on a daily basis.  I also learned to give my child more credit because she “killed” the lines for the 2nd grade play and memorized them in a short amount time.  I’m just thrilled she read them without assistance.

Last night was especially hard when Ev felt inadequate, less than, and “not smart” because of a comment made by a classmate.  A classmate she has considered a friend.  This happens to all kids regardless of learning style but it still hurts you to the core.  If only we could all focus on our children being compassionate and empathetic and not necessarily the BEST mathematician, the BEST reader, the MOST popular, the cutest, etc.  Ensure first that your child is kind!  Now my child is hurt and my “Mama Bear” feelings are out!  Luckily, Ev is strong and confident enough to know better.  But I sure do want to call that mother up and compare IQ scores. 🙂

#Giving Tuesday

It warms our heart to be able to donate $500 to The Hill School of Wilmington  for National #Giving Tuesday which is a global day dedicated to giving back.  By creating our Dyslexia Awareness bracelets we were able to raise over $500 dollars to donate to the cause of helping children with learning disabilities.

We are so thankful for all the love and support from those who have supported us through this journey.  Starting this blog to help bring awareness and support to parents has received more attention than I ever dreamed.  Thank you for supporting us and for supporting The Hill School.

Over The Hill we go.

Since our Dyslexia Awareness special has aired on WECT, we have received so many kind words, emails, blog followers, and people reaching out for help and guidance.  Asking, what steps did we take, how can we help, what should others do as parents.

In a perfect world, I could solve all the worlds problems, starting with my own, and only choose to focus on what makes me the happiest.  When it comes to Everlee and helping her, I honestly listened to the “experts”.  I listened to her teachers at Cape Fear Academy, I listened when they suggested she get tested, and I listened when The Hill School of Wilmington was recommended.  Honestly, Hill was my last resort, I didn’t want to travel down this path, I didn’t want this burden….for myself.  I soon realized, I wasn’t the one with the burden.  I needed to do everything in my power to make my daughter’s overall life easier and more enjoyable.  I needed to take away the struggle and the anxiety.

So, over The Hill we went.  The Hill School of Wilmington’s  mission is to empower children who have learning differences with the skills needed to become confident, independent learners.  It is a place where they receive a program designed solely around them, where they feel confident being the learners they were designed to be.

Everlee has never been more confident than when she started going over The Hill.  She is thriving, she is loving her new found confidence, and she loves knowing she has two schools with two groups of friends.  Sometimes the road less traveled is the one which will lead you over the hill, the one you were looking for in the end.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.hillschoolofwilmington.org/

Some days are a fight.

I figured one of these days, the shoe would fall.  Ev has been on a pretty positive streak, loving school, eager to do her homework, loving the idea of independent reading, and eager to listen to Harry Potter.  Last week things were a bit off, she seemed to be fighting against her ‘fun loving” spirit.

Hesitant to burst our perfect bubble, I finally broke down and asked what was bothering her.  She was simply “anxious” and “embarrassed”.  Everlee is a perfectionist and wants to do well in everything she attempts.  She was struggling with the fact her spelling words weren’t all 100%, her math facts weren’t scoring 100, and she missed a dictated sentence.  Sometimes as her mother I am uncertain if this fear is caused because she is dyslexic, or the anxiety from being dyslexic, or simply because she is a maturing eight year old-young lady.  This journey seems to have so many dips in the road, it can be a challenge to maneuver.

The worst came when Ev looked at me and said, “Do you wish Nash was born first since he isn’t dyslexic?”  I’m not entirely sure what was meant by this or what was going through her sweet mind but I can’t imagine it causing her comfort.  Of course my answer was “no” but does this make her feel at ease, does this answer the question in her mind, does she believe me or just expect me to answer “no”?

For today, we will accept some unanswered questions and keep fighting the good fight.

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