I am sitting here tonight alone in my own company and alone in my own thoughts… I am a little mentally exhausted but feel a little calmness in what I see as a safety net that gives me a little teary moment that has me feeling somewhere in between the feelings of being hopeful, grateful and a little unsteady within myself.
Today I had a meeting for one of my children who have now adult age has taught me that being a mother doesn’t end when a child comes of age.
Yesterday I was on the border of losing my composure when I thought about the meeting that I had to attend today.
Firstly what was the meeting for?
The meeting was about my son’s course curriculum and the struggles that are starting to show within his course work.
Years ago when I not only found out that son would spend his years struggling with his education but I found it hard to hear him say that he felt that he was starting to see that he was a waste of time for those trying to educate or teach him… I saw the years of his struggles go on and on… and the more that I encouraged him to keep his head working the grindstone the more I saw him become more and more discouraged by the shortfalls that he was making… I found it harder still to watch that he was working hard to find his passion with his learning abilities and scope of what he wanted to learn… but no matter how many accomplishments he made and no matter how man ahhh haaa moments he had… that invisible line that always seemed to have a new learning curve level always seemed to be on the move and that line always seemed to be out of his reach.
There are so many “I’s” in my sons story… hour after hour I worked with him on assignments… hours after hour I sat with him whilst he spoke about himself in such hardened words… and many more hours after he crumbled under the weight of his small accomplishments and his “word on hard.. not quite there moments “ I sat in my own silence wondering why it is that one person would have to be seeing himself as not being that kid who didn’t quite get it…
I sat and told him so many times for so many hours and told him that learning wasn’t all about textbooks and endless pages of note-taking… the skill sets that he possessed in his own self were of physical accomplishments… but those accomplishments we were told were not measuring on his academic register.
As he has hrown he has proven to be strong willed and strong witted… he gas climbed heights and grown a great deal of determination to prove his academic and critical defeatests that he could accomplish great things… he knew that the school environment was not ever going to be the place that he flourished in …. but each and every day he showed up anyway and chose to be a participant in his learning rather being the codependent defeated person that would have given into that daily grindstone and the negative energy that circled his learning abilities.
He was always going to be that tough kid who learned things not so easily… and maybe a little too far in the hard way direction… being born six weeks premature and being told told that he may not live long enough to take his first breath was the day that I as his mother knew that he wasn’t going to walk a path of golden cobblestones… but there he was… so very underweight and he had beat the odds and was breathing on his own… he began to feed and began to put on weight… but from the get-go it was a struggle to get him to gain the weight that took him off that “underweight label”..
So here we are many years past the years of his underweight label and we are now headlong into the label of “learning will always have its setbacks…
Back in February in 2019, I allowed his high school years to come to an end… I asked him some years ago to push through all those closed doors and put his best foot forward (change your schedule into the subjects of interest, forget about the academics levels and do the subjects that were of interest… ignore the grades both
good and bad and just finished year 10).
Year 10 started and finished and I was surprised when he told me that he was going back to start year 11… I was surprised because school was like gaol and he wanted to bust out… standing around in classrooms where he knew that he was always going to sitting at the bottom of his years had for many years been weighing him down… so his decision to start year 11 had me going hmm … he wanted to commit himself to finish his hands on subjects of construction and woodwork and he seemed to find a sense of himself in the completed projects that he had put all his efforts into… instead of taking the easier road of quitting school he not only started his 11th year at school… he pushed through sucking up his grades and his small but yet self-powered accomplishments and he finished his year 11 studies… and not at the bottom of the class…. I told him that his progress wasn’t in the grades that he had worked hard to change but they were in the comments and compliments that I read in his reports and the many meetings that we had with his teachers and school.
He started back at school for his year 12 studies… he gave me the completion of his year 10 studies that I had asked for… he pushed ahead and pushed himself to start and finish his 11th year… but I knew that he was out to prove himself to a world that had him written off in his academic achievements… so when I saw his life passion flash up on my screen I knew that school was going to end for him without him ending it himself… further education but in a facility that was built on the foundations of wanting to learn a skill set of choice and wanting following a passion over the academic grades that fitted you into scaled levels against his peers.
So when I received a call earlier this week from one of his teachers that had concerns that he was not going to pass with a competent level… I was oh dear god here we go again… in my mind, I was scared again for the defeat that I had seen for those many years in his high school years very much an everyday look on his face.
He and could talk about how he was struggling but in the same sentence he gently asked am I out of the course that I want to do? So I asked his teacher the question that he wanted to answer to … & with a gentle no of course not from his teacher… with an agreement for a meeting and some extra learning support from he and his other teachers if he has the push to head first back into the grindstone… choices, changes and accomplishments could be made.
My son is why does he need me his mom yo attend this appointment that was put into simple terms… If He wants to be here .. we as a teaching network are here to support his wants… cone to the meeting, meet with me and a few of his others teachers and let’s make a plan…
I rolled my wheelchair into today’s meeting feeling somewhat sad but for the first time, I wasn’t heavy in my heart… I wasn’t heavy because his calling teacher gold me snippets of his own learning story… he told me that he too has what my son has… dyslexia (in short dyslexia is:- is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. Also called specific reading disability, dyslexia is a common learning disability in children)… I have heard this many times over the years that we have watched the struggles of my sons learning… tests with the words inconclusive is the words that crossed the table many times.
As a parent I personally have given many hours to the struggles of the homework table, I am no stranger to the anguish that has tantrums across its wooden surface. I thought (probably selfishly on my part) that my daily being there and my many hours of pushing and putting things into small workable parts would soon enough and with hard work in toe would eventually have him clicking into the oh I got it now line… but I can’t help but see my part and my faults in his education… I am not sitting here pushing myself to the point of blame, but I can see that my pushing him to try at the very least… to hand in something, to try harder to understand was just the compounding bricks that pushed my son to see his unworthy failures…
So I attended today’s appointment with my son hearing that he is quiet and reserved… the opposite to the young man that I know… then it clicked in me “quiet and reserved means struggling… it means I turn up and I try to do what is asked of me … but silently I am struggling”… not so silently I said to him… I know you and now its time to let us all know myself, himself, his dad and 3 of his supporting teachers what it is that he wants from his chosen career and course.
I remember asking did they feel that my son should end his course because he was in the midst of struggling yet again with his workload… I fought the tears so hard had they gave said anything other than what does he think … does he want to stay, go or work hard with a support group with extra time and guidance beside him I think the tears would have fallen…
One of his teachers began to tell us that he too has dyslexia (this he had already told me some weeks ago).. but he told me that his spelling was atrocious and that he rarely wrote on the board for his reasons, that he preferred powerpoint presentations and others means of teaching over the endless notes being delivered on the whiteboard at the front of the class… he went on to tell us that he struggled hard also in verballing the things that he had to remember… and he told us that despite his struggles that he to has had to find ways to cope, that he has had to find other ways to learn and that despite his road and story being similar to my sons that he today has many completed levels of academics… then he has had to work hard to be all the “hats” that his education has afforded him & that he never thought that he would be the struggling student now in the teaching role.
I could write many more thoughts about this teacher… I could write about how I sat staring at him and was waiting for a negative word that discredited every beautiful word that he spoke… I waited and waited but he did so much to comfort the scared parent that saw nothing but a struggle of a young man trying hard to do his very best… that struggle that comes with no guarantees and no end date.
I could and tell of how bad I wanted him to tell me the opposite of what he had told me… but he comforted one (and I hope all of us in that room) with his words “if you want this you will have to put in double maybe tripled the hours of other students that the hours will be long but the accomplishment and completion of his chosen wants were not out of his reach.
I was taken further into my admiration when another of his supportive teachers told us her story that I call segmented attention… she told us of how she has an audio issue that has her also struggling to maintain her own self’s attention span in her own learning abilities.
There she was a well dressed and well presented beautiful looking woman comes across as a well spoken and a diversified and educated woman with many accomplishments under her belt… & of course she is… but she presented herself in a manner that had me seeing her as an educated women without a struggle in her learning experiences… you know what they say about judging on first appearances… shame on me from failing to head the words that I often speak “judging a book by its cover makes you look stupid when actually look, read and finish reading the many unturned pages… “
Then there is teacher number 3 who was running against her own busy teaching schedule to attend today’s meeting… talking about how she would work with my son against his own learning tide… to work with him to give him more tuition hours (all teachers have given this verbal agreement & dedication to today’s meeting )…. but teacher 3 emailed her promised emails of assistance and extra teaching/learning materials and has offered to assist in setting up this if there was a need… she went on to set my tears flowing with a message of support to the mom that was sobbing in her own mirrored reflection…
I knew before her message came through of the dedication and time that I have for my son that he has become who he is out of hard work and determination on both my part and his… I was not crying or silently sobbing because I felt I had failed my son (as it has been expressed to me many tomes over the tears)… I was crying or silently sobbing because of the fact that my son had found his niche, his want for his life and that he was finally free of an education that wasn’t working for him and his needs… & there it was his struggles laid back on the table for all to see…
What teacher 3 said was this…
“Anytime you are concerned or need to ask anything, please just give me call”
“I know he can achieve this, a little extra work and extra support will definitely help.
You are doing a great job with Nichaalus.
One thing I know about student’s with learning disabilities, once they put their mind to something, they will achieve the goal they have set for themselves. I see that in your son”
My son hates meetings and has always seen them as a negative vortex… struggles in education and learning never really come with positive thoughts and or self-driven aspirations waiting in the waiting room of a kick-ass meetings… I knew he was not liking bits and pieces of what was being said… but what I hope for is that he could see that all the different parts of his needs and barriers needed to laid out on the the table so that the picture could be redrawn and given a new story and outlook.
My only negative thing yhst came from today is that I so wanted to be in background of my sons wants for learning… for some reason i figured (stupidly) that allowing him to go to Tafe to follow his want for a career when take the struggles that his education has always given him and suddenly allow him to have his ahhh oh I get it time and moment.
He is 18, no longer a child and I am still being called in for meetings… which may I add teacher number explained thst he knows that my son is 18 and I could say no and that my son could refuse me access and or attendance to the meeting but he with nothing but a want to support my son asked for me to come in and help him , to help the other teachers, to help my son plan an assault course on and for his learning abilities.
I know that Tafe is a different environment and I honestly could see the support and the drive that all 3 teachers had for my son and the support that he is going to need… being offered an extra 2 hours of tution and support of teacher 2 just blew my mind… 1 hr was her usual scheduled time… again I could have cried… help with assessments and extra understanding tutoring time from teacher 1 was heart warming and is full of my heart’s gratitude. Teacher 3 was the wrapper upper of the mood when she told me that he was great with his computer knowledge and that my son wasn’t struggling as much in her class as he was with teacher number 1… after throwing around thoughts… the conclusion was technology assisted learning… use what you have to your advantage was the message.
What was a hard morning was indeed a sweeter pill to swollow …. what could gave been a derailment of my sons wants for a career was a building exercise of the people that are his education community…
Maybe just maybe his dislexia & dyspraxia
may now find their place and get its official diagnosis…
What’s the difference between dyslexia and dyspraxia?
Both dyslexia and dyspraxia are learning difficulties that can cause children and adults to struggle at school—so what’s the difference between them? In general, a key indicator of dyslexia is to do with literacy skills such as reading, writing and spelling. On the other hand, dyspraxia veers more toward movement and planning difficulties.
What is dyspraxia?
The Dyspraxia Foundation defines dyspraxia as ‘ a form of developmental coordination disorder (DCD).’
Older readers may recognise the unfashionable term “clumsy child syndrome”.
Now it’s more appropriate to call it either Developmental Co-ordination Disorder or Dyspraxia. Dyspraxia impacts on motor coordination skills and can cause children and adults to perform movements poorly and out of order.
It is neurological and affects everything from preparing to organising and performing movements, sometimes extending into speech and memory ability. Dyspraxia can upset articulation of spoken language as well as thought process and perception.
Symptoms in young children may present as developmental delays, feeding and sleeping difficulties, high sensitivity to noise and a lack of interest in construction toys, including building blocks and Legos. Adults can lack hand-eye coordination, have poor balance and struggle to grasp small objects or perform daily grooming routines.
Compromised coordination greatly affects everyday activities for individuals with dyspraxia, causing difficulties in school activities like reading and writing, as well as recreational activities like riding a bike and driving a car.
What is dyslexia?
There is some controversy about a definition of dyslexia, but in 2007 The British Dyslexia Association Management Board accepted the following: “a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills.
It is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects. … It tends to be resistant to conventional teaching methods, but its effect can be mitigated by appropriately specific intervention, including the application of information technology and supportive counselling.” (BDA Management Board, 2007)”
Individuals with dyslexia struggle to process phonemes or sounds and can sometimes take longer to perform routine language tasks such as decoding in reading and spelling in writing. It can also impact on working memory.
What do dyslexia and dyspraxia have in common?
Dyslexic and dyspraxic children and adults tend to be holistic problem solvers and intuitive, creative thinkers.
People who are dyslexic and dyspraxic thus find that learning often takes longer and is more tiring than for others without Specific Learning Difficulties.
Individual learners will benefit greatly from identifying their own relevant learning strategies. A unique learning style means that they may struggle to learn by traditional methods. This has resulted in some teaching practices and materials now being helpfully labelled “dyslexia friendly”.
A “dyslexia friendly” approach includes multi-sensory learning delivered in small incremental steps, at the learner’s own pace and with lots of opportunity to repeat and to receive positive reinforcement. Everyone can learn from an approach that is “dyslexia friendly,” including children and adults with dyspraxia.
Individuals with dyslexia and dyspraxia can have good days and bad days and both children and adults often show a discrepancy between their oral ability and their written work. This can lead to them being unfairly labelled as not trying or lazy or unco-operative where a specific learning difficulty has not been recognised.
Written work may also be poorly presented. They may have difficulty copying from the board. Students who struggle to write things down may always struggle with writing.
Learning to touch-type so that writing becomes automatic, and applying this skill to note taking and preparing assignments by computer, can be extremely helpful. Did you know that high school students with specific learning difficulties who can type faster than they write may be permitted to use laptops in exams?
So with all that said… there is concern and a lot of work ahead for my son… ut what I walk away with is a great deal of admiration and respect for the meeting that has my circling in my own thoughts… none of what I heard or was told today was new information… but it was a whole new experience brought on with interventions, strategy and committed help in its wake.
I am emotionally tired and so exhausted by the struggles that one person must go through.. but I will sleep better knowing that I don’t feel alone in the struggle of helping my son see the light at the end of a very long 18 years in the making tunnel.
I am a very grateful Mom tonight … Teachers 1,2 & 3 have my respect, admiration and my hand on heart thanks.
Author. Tanya Kelly