Tuesday, April 13, 2010


It took a while to get my head around it. I think it would for any parent. I think we always knew something was off, but just hoped it would be OK. That, I don't know, he'd grow out of it. I can't tell you the exact time it became obvious to me, but grade primary really made it clear to everyone that our boy had a learning disability of some kind.

It scared me. I can't speak for Mart, but I think he'd agree in the early years. It felt like a life sentence and I wouldn't accept it. I defended him like an angry mother bear. We couldn't be the only ones to see the sweet, smart boy, could we? But if he was a normal little boy, why couldn't he read the alphabet? Why could he remember one day and not the next? Why could he not see the letters on a page? Why was he so lost?

School was beyond hard. He cried. Everyday he cried.

I've learned to find strength as a mother. Learned to be an advocate. Learned that letters after your name doesn't mean you know best. The only way I can describe his life in school from primary to grade 6 is a fight. I fought tooth and nail, and stood before principals, teachers, professionals and told them they were wrong. That I may not know what is wrong, but I know my boy is not stupid and I know my boy does not have ADHD.

The first educational assessment done was in grade 2. He was still in French Immersion (it took me 2 more years to convince the school board to take him out). Because he hadn't been taught English reading or spelling, they told me they could not properly evaluate that area. (Which is the area he struggles in) Therefor his assessment was inconclusive, but his behaviour in class fits the profile of ADHD and from there out he was labelled.

There have been 2 things I will not budge on when it comes to my boy. 1) he has at least average intelligence and belongs in a class with his piers. 2) he does not have ADHD. The hard part has been how to convince people who have framed papers hanging on the wall, making them the expert, facing a girl young enough to be their own daughter, that they are wrong and I'm not just a delusional mother who won't accept reality. I know kids with ADHD, they take medication and are wonderful. But this was not the case for my boy and it was not going to help. It would be like treating him for an ear infection when he had a broken toe.

In grade 4 we got the assessment done again privately. This time it was magic. It was like she cracked open his head, looked at all the pieces and figured out how he worked. The report came and I was washed over with relief. Finally someone agreed with us. Finally someone with letters after their name, papers framed on the wall, saw what we always had. She found that he has a severe learning disability in phonological processing-rapid naming. Not ADHD. The symptoms of those 4 little letters were brought on by insurmountable stress and frustration. Eliminate one and the other will take care of itself. He had been coping the only way he could, which wasn't well, by avoidance.

Up until then we were lost together in the woods. We knew there was a mountain to climb, but we didn't know which one, or where it was. We were so lost. And our boy was losing himself. He hated himself. He hated that he couldn't read. Hated that he felt stupid. That he was different from his friends. This little boy held his secret tight. He didn't want anyone to know. Up until the second assessment, we had no way to help. My heart breaks at the thought of how much he was hurting inside.

Since then, we've moved. Changed school districts and we are, I dare say nearing the top of the mountain. Our boy is happy and proud and doesn't have to carry around a dark secret anymore. We have worked so hard to get here.

Then the other day, his LD specialist emailed and said "He is quite tired lately and I see he has ADHD, has his medications changed?" I freaked out. Frantically typed an email. Erased it and tried not to panic. Suddenly we were back to square one. After 4 years of progress. I was scratching at the earth to get hold and keep us from sliding back down the mountain we'd just climbed. That it took us 4 years to climb. I sent an email explaining. I hope she couldn't hear my panic. I hope she believes me. I hope we don't end up screwing something up and lose his program. All for 4 nasty little misplaced letters.

Sometimes I wonder if I brought this on him. Having him so young. I didn't want to be pregnant. It was......it just wasn't supposed to be like that. I screwed up and he was being punished for what I had done. I know it's not true, but sometimes it wanders into my mind. I know in my heart why, if there is fate or a great plan, he was given to me. I would be lost in many ways without him.

I don't wish for my life to be any different. I love my boy just the way he is with his unique mind. I have been a mother longer than I've been an adult, but I have no regrets. Our boy will struggle with his learning disability for his whole life. I just wish for him to live life easy. I think most parents want the same for their kids.

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