18 Apr Adrien’s story, Part 2
First of all, as you read this I want you to remember: 1 in 5 people have dyslexia . ONE IN FIVE. 20%. That means that in MOST classrooms across America, there is a young child struggling with understanding schoolwork. Struggling to understand why the 4 kids surrounding him/her make school look so easy. Chances are, you know someone this affects, it may even be you or your child. We understand the struggle you’re facing as we have been there as parents of one of the 1 in 5. Until now, many people are unaware of our daughter Adrien’s story and we feel it’s time to spread awareness and help others struggling with a similar situation.
First of all, dyslexia isn’t a disability. It’s simply a different way of thinking and learning and highly affects reading skills. Therefore, the odds are against dyslexic kids in the educational system because of what is considered “standardized” in our educational system. We spent many years deciphering between conflicting test results which left us with no answers. We assumed she would simply catch up. After many tests through the years with a Neuropsychologist, we were left with vague answers and diagnosis such as non verbal learning disorder, A.D.D., and social communication deficits. These diagnoses and terms didn’t mean much… it simply gave us a diagnosis with no definitions and no plan of action leading to another dead end. At this point, around age 9, we thought maybe with her being the youngest of three children at home and younger for her class that she had just fallen behind in the public school system. Against professional advice, we decided to retain her and repeat 4th grade (second best decision we made) and sent her to a private school with smaller class sizes. The first year was great for maturity, relearning, socializing, and adjusting to a different school. The next two years were by far the worst years, and her struggles became very apparent to us. This confirmed that our intuition was right: we had a legitimate problem. But the questions of what and why still remained. She had parental support at home, but somewhere between our help and the educational system she was being failed and report cards were that validation. As I write this, I think of the teacher who had the courage to fail my daughter. To you I say thank you. You contributed to her success today and pushed us harder to find our “WHY”.
We went back to the public school as we now needed some accommodations, and Adrien was adamant that public school was where she wanted to be. With more kids in a classroom, she wouldn’t stand out so much because more kids would be like her, just undiagnosed. Coincidentally, in the meantime our public school had started screening elementary kids for Dyslexia. Although Adrien had missed the targeted age group for testing, we attended a monthly school board meeting where the administrator talked about the screening and criteria of Dyslexia. This information put Adrien’s struggles into perspective, as they described our daughter ‘to a T.’ We immediately set up our own appointment to go through Dyslexia testing, and after the testing was complete, we finally found our WHY! After so many years of struggle, I was skeptical and had to do some quick research to make sure this was the best solution based on this information. We had a couple of options, but with Adrien’s age, we didn’t feel we had time to waste and that’s when we contacted the Springfield Center for Dyslexia and Learning. (our BEST decision!) With our overly busy and complicated lifestyle, driving an hour each way 3 times a week for sessions while scheduling around school/practices/parties/ball games/and two other kids’ activities, we had to be sure what we were doing was working. A year into the program, we had her retested. When we received the results, we couldn’t believe how much she had gained in a year. We were reassured to continue what we were doing, because it was definitely working.
Fast forward to this year… Adrien recently finished the two year program in 20 months, keeps up daily with her own school work, stays organized, has received student of the month, has had all A’s and one B for the last year, and for the first time ever is within grade level for the “standardized” reading level at school. Previous to intervention, she had always tested 2-3 years behind grade level.
It took us many years to receive a proper diagnosis because Dyslexia awareness is little to none. When I hear the term dyslexia, I, like many others, thought of writing letters backwards, upside down, and misspelling words. I assumed that didn’t describe her, which is why dyslexia previously never entered our minds. As I started researching, reading and learning more about what dyslexia really is, the light bulb came on and gave us our aha! moment. I now could relate to a lot of the signs over the years and could see how she met the criteria.
Adrien is a happy teen with a heart of gold and a friend to all. She loves sports and has a very sharp memory. When she was younger she would put on dance routines for us. We were always amazed and wondered how she did that and never had a dance lesson a day in her life. Now we know she’s been gifted with an amazing brain. Through her journey with Jennifer at the Center, we’ve watched her confidence soar. Since receiving her diagnosis at 12, her life has been anything but typical the last few years and probably less than ideal for any teenager. She jumped in this program and never once complained. We are very grateful for Jennifer as we know she’s helped make Adrien’s future brighter through teaching her in a way she understands to put words together and to simply READ.
We hope Adrien’s story helps and encourages others to never give up. If you know a child who is falling behind, and you think maybe the child is unfocused or not trying, please take another look. Most kids are misinterpreted and labeled as being lazy when in reality they are trying their hardest. Although medicine is sometimes an answer for too many things, we in the past reluctantly tried it briefly and knew it wasn’t the answer we were looking for. We loved who she was then and who she is now and didn’t want medicine to change that. Instead, we kept searching for our answer and found that a trip to the Springfield Center for Dyslexia and Learning can change a child’s life forever! It sure was a life changer for us. Thank You SCDL, we are forever grateful for the opportunity at your center and Jennifer’s commitment, dedication, and encouragement. She and Adrien’s journey is a true testimony of success for what your center can do!!
Our sincere appreciation,
Kristin & Kirk