Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I knew it was coming, and yet the feelings of guilt, sadness and anger still surface. I officially requested a learning disabilities evaluation for my 9 year old son today. My all boy all the time, golden hearted, beautiful child failed English and had a D- in spelling on his report card. I know for a fact it isn't due to a lack of trying or not studying. We've been struggling with these areas since kindergarten.

At four years old he started speech therapy. When you have to interpret 75% of what your child is saying for someone else you know there's an issue that needs addressed. Five years later he is still working on his speech and is still difficult to understand at times. Maybe the fact that he can't say the word correctly contributes to his inability to spell the word....but my mommy gut says there's more to it than that.

When he was in second grade I asked about his frequent letter reversals and struggles with reading, especially reading comprehension. I was told letter reversals are still common in that age group and to continue working with him on reading. I hired a wonderful tutor who worked with him once a week over summer vacation hoping that would "catch him up". Third grade showed minimal progress, at least he wasn't failing in any subject areas then. His teacher voiced concerns about his his handwriting and how difficult it was to get him to write anything at all. He was placed in the RtI (Response to Intervention) program for reading and seemed to be progressing satisfactorily. Again, I decided to wait and see.

Fourth grade has been HARD. Spelling worksheets are 30-45 minutes of crying, erasing over and over and frustration for both of us. Most of the time he can't even copy the word from the list correctly. And when he does finally get the word in the blank it is usually so poorly written it makes a doctor's handwriting look neat. And Heaven help us if he has to write more than a word on a blank. I swear, this reading log thing they are doing may be the death of me!

As I reflect on why I waited so long to request formal testing I can come up with only one horrific reason. I didn't want to face the fact that another child has something wrong with the way their brain works. This blog is titled Swimmin' in Alphabet Soup because more of my children than not have some sort of neurological diagnosis that makes their life harder than it should have to be. The idea of having another of my babies diagnosed with something makes me feel nauseous. Four out five? At some point you have to start thinking, "What have I done to them?! I carried them inside me, gave birth to them, read to them, played with them, was an involved parent even during preschool - what the heck did I do wrong?!"

Even when I manage to put that part of the guilt aside, there will always be the guilt I deserve for not fighting for him harder, earlier. I cannot even imagine how his little ego and academic self esteem have suffered because I let him struggle so hard, so long. In the midst of fighting battles against a 13 year old's ADHD and an 11 and 5 year olds' ASD, I let him slip through the cracks. There isn't any justification for that - my JOB is to make sure none of my children slip through the cracks, and I have failed my Sweet Boy until now.

The good thing about guilt is that it is an enormous motivator to make things right. He will be evaluated, we will find out exactly where his deficits lie and then we will work together to make him successful in the classroom. He WILL move beyond his current belief that he can't do it and recognize that not only can he do it, but he can do it great! I know this will happen for him, because I won't quit until he believes it - I will never, ever fail him again. 


  1. Oh LeeAnn, you know God gives us these kids because we ARE good moms and we do what we need to do for them, NO MATTER WHAT! You are an awesome mom with awesome kids, and they will all turn out just fine because of you. You will watch them as adults and breathe a sigh of relief knowing you did what you had to and it was all worth it. I so appreciate your honesty and humor in the blog. I only have one like this and he keeps my head spinning on a daily basis - I can't imagine four! Hang in there dear - you're doing fine :)

  2. You KNOW it's not your fault. I know as Moms we think we are influental ocer everything when it comes to our kids, but not this. Does he struggle with reading too or just spelling? If you can get insurance coverage for a private evaluation, I would go ahead with it while you are waiting for the school eval. It never hurts to get two opinions. Let me know if you need help. Been down the learning disability path with one of mine and a friend's son as well. I wish I could tell you it's easier than ASD. :) All you can do is keep plugging away and keep doing your best for all your kids every day!


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