Aug 12, 2010

Dyslexia And Other Academic Horrors

After five children I have learned that my strength as a parent is not in the area of behavior and academics having minimal patience for either. I'm sure you are asking your self, what's left? My defect was beautifully illustrated today when The Boy was attempting to say a three word sentence and it was so convoluted I had to ask him to repeat himself three times. When I finally realized what he was saying it tickled me so badly i started hee hawing like a demented burro. I'd share those 3 words with you to further illustrate my point but I can't remember them. I seem to have short term memory retrieval issues and the 1960's are partially to blame for that defect. Laughing at your child's dyslexia is what I've been reduced to after 40 years of parenting. Besides the 1960's it is partially due to "the beach glass phenomenon." (my own diagnoses) Forty years ago I started out crystal clear and sharp enough to pierce with that cutting edge but over the years the stress has worn my edges down and I'm no longer transparent. I've become cloudy-dull and harmless. Pretty soon I'll be in someones fish tank as a decoration.

Around the age of five the boy began exhibiting signs of learning difficulties. I had been told since pre-k he was "fine" by his teachers. One teacher kept telling me he was the "typical medically complex child." What they really meant to say was that he was so cute they couldn't get past it long enough to asses him objectively. I was on red alert, however, having gone through this exact thing with the artist who was also so cute the teachers couldn't assess her objectively either. I found out at the end of the school year that she was never able to complete her assignments so they kept her in at recess every day and helped her complete them. A little late on the notice people. This happened to a friend of mine also who's concerns were brushed off all year long until the last day of kindergarten when the teacher informed her, "I don't think your daughter is ready for first grade." The problem with "cuteness" is that it is generally reserved for pre-K thru 1st grade. After that the reality of academic difficulty is no longer "cute."

For the artist, the solution was removing her from the private schools where she did not fit the cookie cutter mold and putting her in public school where she was in advanced classes and French 3 by 8th grade. Her artistic giftings were simultaneously pursued with a vengeance because that was where her heart was. After turning down acceptance from Boston Conservatory she ended up graduating from The University Of The Arts In Philadelphia and moving to NYC two months later to pursue dance.

The Artist
Photo by Lois Greenfield

It has never been an easy academic road for any of them. The Genius was so intelligent that her IQ was generally a good 50 points higher than most of her teachers and honey she knew it. This did not always go well with the teachers as illustrated by the incident where she ran in to one 10 years later and when he recognized her, he gave her the finger. Couple this with the caustic wit of a high paid talk show host and I was getting phone calls from her high school VP weekly. I love that man to this day because without fail he would always begin his conversation with, "The Genius is a good girl but..." Always reinforcing her goodness had a lasting impression on me. I ran into him years later when he accepted a position at the Artist's high school. I asked him if he remembered The Genius. "Oh! The Genius!" he laughed. " I had a hard time keeping up with The Genius!" I will always love you Mr. Dixon. Enjoy your well deserved retirement. XXXOOO

The Genius went to college later in life and holds a degree in Criminology. She remains one of the funniest people I have ever met making Ellen sound like the Pope.

The solution for The Boy has been more difficult due to the severe dylexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia diagnosed to the tune of $870.00 3 years ago. 40% of dyslexics also suffer from ADHD. Add pre-natal street drug exposure and medical complexities causing severe pain and you have a casserole-for-a- brain with so many ingredients it's hard to identity the main dish. Where to start? I tried to homeschool one year but when he gnawed through the noise canceling headphones and computer mouse wires like a rabid ferret I knew this wasn't going to work.

Here is a snippet of one of the 1,000 interruptions while I am attempting to type this:

SPP: (working on the computer) I have asked you 1,000 times to not interrupt me when I am on the computer or on the phone.
The Boy: But it's not ringing.
SPP: I am on the computer not the phone.
The boy: Oh.

I have two more children somewhere in this house with academic and behavioral issues that would bring George Foreman, (one of the most feared heavy weight boxers in the world prior to his grilling days) to his knees without one blow. Maybe another time. Right now I have to take The Baby in to the pediatrician as we have lost the 3 day viral battle. At breakfast she was blowing prize winning pea soup colored bubbles out of her nose to the chanting of The Boy's,"Pop it! Pop it! Top Pit! Pot Tip!" Our family's version of "dinner theater."

For more famous people with the gift of dyslexia go here

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Island Rider said...

Oh, boy. Though not to your great extent. I know some of this pain of having a child who does not fit the mold. Keep focussing on the goodness. Both theirs and yours. Hope you are feeling better now. That post on public bathrooms amde me squeamish. I, too, have that phobia.

Beverly said...

Well, thanks to your comment on my blog, I have spent the last two hours skim reading. You do have an interesting life...what is your connection to Haiti?

Michelle said...

Ah, Monsieur Valle. That guy was an ass. Not my fault.

The Accidental Mommy said...

Love this post- I have one daughter who is cute and charming and "does just great in class" until her grades come home. My other is cute and charming and starting kindergarten able to read a full book and add 3 numbers in her head. That'll be fun.
It's my dream for one of them to be artistic and move to NYC to live out my unfulfilled dreams so I can visit a LOT.

Dani said...

I love that picture of the artist! She's beautiful!


Dani: Thank You! She is in this years Lois Greenfield Calender...check her out!

debe said...

Your children are amazing

You are a wonderful and insightful parent

I hope that your babe stops that green bubble sh#t

cute vs real life

Cute always wins..

At my first kindygarden meeting, when I said who my child was the teacher started laughing..

What is that all about?

Love and hugs to you my dear