This is our story of discovering how to parent and educate our son in the best way possible. It is scary to write about this topic because it is intensely personal and it concerns my child, whom I always want to treat with respect. However, my goal in writing down our story is to give other families hope and direction. If you need hope and direction in your parenting journey, welcome. I share our story for you.
I remember conversations I had with my husband last summer, 2014.
"He's really struggling. I tried having him read to me today. It was miserable. He has to sound each word out, even if we just read it two seconds ago. Or he keeps starting with the middle sound or the end sound. He gets so angry."
"Is he still doing the reversals?"
"I noticed that too, but when we were doing some number stuff last night."
"Do you think I should say something to his new teacher?"
"I don't know. Maybe."
I didn't really know what to do. I knew that lots of Kindergarten, and even 1st grade, students have trouble with reading and reversals at times. But I had that little niggling feeling.
And this time, I decided not to ignore it.
I say "this time" because I have had that feeling about my son in the past, a feeling that made me knit my brows and say "hmm...I wonder..." Other times I would throw up my hands in frustration and wonder which one of us was riding the crazy train (probably both).
Even when Benji was two years old, my husband said, "There's just something...I don't know. That kid's unique."
We talked about how Benji lived in his own little world. We described him as "quirky," "zany," and "his own person." We joked with him: "Which planet are you on today, Benji?" And he would answer us--in great detail! Oh, his little sense of humor!
But I struggled to understand him.
I can't tell you how many times I've covertly googled "Autism symptoms," "Learning disabilities," and "Dyslexia." I've scrolled through dozens of lists, articles, stories but have always come up short: "No. He doesn't fit that list...not quite. We fine. He's fine. Besides, if something was really wrong, someone will say something."
I mean, he was in day care and preschool off and on from age 2-4. Someone would say something if something was really wrong.
We chalked his struggles and behavior issues up to his age:
Well, he's only 3.
His teacher will say something if there is something going on.
LOTS of preschoolers act like that!
Well, he IS a boy!
He's so young.
Lots of kindergarten students do that.
And suddenly, he was almost 7 and I was running out of excuses.
Yet...not one of his teachers or caregivers ever said anything to me.
And that meant nothing was wrong. Right?
I placed so much of my trust in other people's professional opinions that I stifled the growth of my "mother's intuition."
Sure, I had learned to trust intuition in the past--and it had been right. But my intuition had been about physical, medical problems.
This...this had no name. It was something I couldn't see, couldn't put my finger on. It changed, morphed, disappeared, and then violently resurfaced. Some days we were fine.
Other days, we were...not fine.
So I decided to stop ignoring my gut.
I sat down with Benji's first grade teacher at the Back to School night in early September and told her of some of our concerns. I asked her to keep an eye out for some issues we were seeing.
When our conversation was over, I was glad I talked to her...but I didn't feel any better.
Did she believe me?
Did she think I was being "that parent," the hovering, over-indulgent, coddling type?
Did she even take me seriously?
Would she see what we, as parents, saw?
Of course she would! She was a professional educator. As a professional, she would be able to tell us if something was wrong.
I didn't get any answers that night; in fact, taking my concerns out of my head and talking about them just added more questions and worries to the situation.
But, that night, something important happened: I stopped ignoring my gut, even if my intuituion was about something that I couldn't see, or quantify, or even describe very well.
Something was going on with my son, and I was going to discover what it was.
To be continued....
Are you ignoring or listening to your gut?
Following your intuition often leaves you with more questions than answers. But if you think something is wrong with your child, trust yourself. You know your child better than anyone. No "professional" can ever know or love your child as well as you do.
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