By: Staci Stallings
If you’ve been reading this blog since December two years ago, you know the struggle I’ve had with my eight-year-old son. At first we had no idea what was going on. This seemingly bright, wonderful little boy was having the most atrocious time with spelling. Then reading became a real problem. Then he started having blank-outs in school.
First grade was an incredible struggle just to keep our heads above water. By the middle of that summer, I knew something was really wrong. Not only could he not read well, simple words like “left” and “spin” were far above what he could decode on anything other than a hit-or-miss basis. That’s when I learned that there was a label for kids like him. Dyslexic.
Yes. At first that label scared me to pieces. But I’m not one who will just lay down and “accept the inevitable.” So with the prayers of a lot of people and following every small step God asked me to take, we embarked on a journey to first understand and then to cross the abyss that this new reality held. At first we tackled it with word help and breaking words down and decoding them.
I learned very quickly that he was reading nothing. Instead, he was memorizing. Which works when you “read” the book three or four times, but what about things you have to read cold? What then? What he didn’t memorize, he guessed at, and he had gotten really good at looking at pictures and telling the story close enough so that everyone thought he was reading. Around that time, I also learned there are several actors who struggle with this–people who I really admire for the creativity and honesty they bring to their roles.
I also learned that in a couple of states, the prison system estimates how many beds they will need in 20 years by the number of 3rd graders in their state that can’t read. Let me tell you, that’s scary!
Through the first half of second grade, we struggled. It was better because now I knew there was a definable problem and what it was. However, how best to get past it was still a mystery.
Enter Vision Therapy in January. As you recall, my son went in for testing, and we found out that his eyes “jump” as he is trying to focus on something. They also didn’t stretch side-to-side the way they were supposed to. He also had trouble shifting from near focus to far focus quickly. In February we started therapy. We kept reading too.
It wasn’t always pretty, and the downs sometimes felt like they would last forever. But…
After a spring and a summer, I’m happy to report that last Tuesday in his final vision evaluation, he scored “at or above grade level.” Those are some of the best words I’ve ever heard! Unbelievably, we are 10 chapters into his very first long chapter book! And he’s READING. He can read a chapter in 10 minutes. It used to take us 10 minutes to get through 2 pages of a 1-sentence-per-page book. It feels like we’re flying!
So to all of you who prayed so diligently for us, thank you. Sincerely. From the bottom of my heart.
Last night we got into bed, and always before, mentioning a book was a one-way-ticket to a bucket of tears. Instead, he reached up and grabbed a book. It was called “Why Does it Rain?” He said, “I think it should be ‘Why Doesn’t it Rain?'” (Terrible drought here in our part of the country.) Then he would look at each page, read it to himself, and reword it to what it would be if it was trying to explain why it doesn’t rain.
I really think life after dyslexia is going to be fun.