Article by: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries
What do you do when your child doesn’t fit in the box you have so carefully built for them? What do you do when you discover that they need your help; they need you to be their advocate?
This week I learned that my oldest daughter likely has dyslexia. I was not at all surprised by this because she is such a bright child who has always struggled with her reading. As parents, we feel it is our job to do everything we can to equip our children to succeed at life. But we have struggled to find a way to help her in this area.
We feel truly blessed to have had the right people interject their wisdom into our lives at crucial moments during the past few years. Her teachers, her aunt and her grandparents have patiently and consistently involved themselves in this situation.
Reading has always been a heart-wrenching battle for our girl. Frustration, anxiety, fear and confusion are just a few adjectives that come to mind when I think back on the hours we have spent trying to help her read. We have made many difficult decisions over the past few years; allowing her to spend a second year in first grade being at the top of the list.
I am not an educator. I have known for a long time that I would not be the person to teach her how to read. Watching her struggle with her reading has brought out the worst in me more times than I would like to admit.
I have not always been patient and kind to her. I have pushed her too hard, expected too much and wondered why she couldn’t just overcome her emotions and complete her assignments. For that, I am truly sorry.
Parenting is never easy; parenting a child that doesn’t think or operate in the same way as you do can be exasperating. Reading has always come easily to me, and although her father did require extra help with literacy in elementary school, he never struggled like our daughter has.
We have had it in the back of our mind that she might have dyslexia for quite some time. But we were not eager to label her. When we looked through the lists of signs and symptoms, there was no glaring reason for us to pursue a diagnosis.
Instead, with the encouragement and support of my parents, we chose to begin the process of tutoring her in an Orton-Gillingham based method developed for people with dyslexia. After studying the method and watching our daughter respond to this different kind of literacy instruction, we could not be more encouraged.
All of our hopelessness and confusion has evaporated, and in its place we have discovered courage and a readiness for this battle. We understand now that our child needs a different sort of education in order to be successful in reading, and that is exactly what we intend to give her.
I spent more than a dozen hours this past week talking with educators, making a plan for my daughter, and learning to be her advocate. No one knows her like I do. No one understands her needs better than me.
Advocating for your child is an empowering experience when your words are received in love and with an open mind. I am so grateful for the amazing school we are privileged to send our children to. For the teachers and administrators who truly love what they do and are committed to helping every child achieve academic success.
Although I am only at the beginning of this journey, I find myself looking at my daughter in a whole new way. I feel like all of the things that confused and dumbfounded me about her now make sense. I feel like I truly understand how her mind works, and I think it is absolutely beautiful.
The statistics show that as many as one in five kids in American classrooms have dyslexia. My girl isn’t abnormal, she’s just wired a bit differently. And now that we understand that we are going to start teaching her reading in a way that makes sense to her.
I am so proud of our daughter. I am ready to lock arms with her and with the rest of our support system. We are going to do everything we can to help her, and she is going to blossom and grow. Because that’s what parents do for their kids.
For information about dyslexia, more classic warning signs, accommodations and more, go to www.brightsolutions.us.
For information about the system we are using with our daughter, go to www.BartonReading.com.