Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Who I Am Doesn't Matter

I could be anyone for all you know. An exotic stranger. The person living next door. A monkey with the ability to type.

Alright, maybe not a monkey.

But it doesn't matter. Picture this: I'm sitting in an armchair next to a bay window as the sun rises. It's early spring and there are green buds on the trees. My nine-year-old son is lying on the couch reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The room is a mess--a toy helicopter lies in the middle of the coffee table, a box of tissues, stacks of books, a remote control droid beside a bottle of Prozak, work papers, junk mail, a stuffed dog next to a paperclip bent out of shape. 

Oh look... a metaphor for my life ;P.

I should really do some dusting. And laundry. If my parenting was measured by the state of my living room, I'd get sent to bad parent prison. Instead I'm relaxing. My youngest is curled up with his book and laughing. He brings the story over to show me the funny illustration of a boy trapped in a dream he can't escape.

My son likes books. He reads.

Did I mention he has dyslexia?

Last year I was terrified he'd never have moments like this. We read together ever night, even when the books were a bit too hard.


My reasoning: if I exposed him to enough words something would click. I printed out Fry sight words and made flashcards we went over daily. We read picture books and Curious George. Street signs. Labels at the grocery store. Everything.

Read, read, read, read, read. 

My son's abilities accelerated like a car going from five to ten miles per hour, it sped to twenty, thirty... then we reached a hill and could go no faster. The car stalled. The boy plateaued at a reading level one year behind his classmates. Worse, he hated reading.

We had the school retest him over the summer. His primary disability category changed from autism to a specific learning disability. 

The dyslexia was unmistakable.  

This year his special education teacher has been using a systematic phonics-based method for instruction, and he's making progress in reading once again. His spelling has improved. Writing is getting easier. As he puts Diary of a Wimpy Kid down on the arm of the living room couch, I ask him if he likes to read. 

"Yeah," he says. "I like reading now."

"What do you like about it?" 

"It's VERY funny." He picks up a plush ender dragon, black with purple eyes and gray-trimmed wings. He hugs it to his chest. "Can I use the computer now?" 

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