A Piece of our Dyslexia Journey

“I will speak for you.

I will advocate

for you.

So that one day,

you can do it

for yourself.”

Author Unknown

I knew that Z learned differently in kindergarten. He struggled to learn his letters and sounds and hated writing anything. He had poor letter formation and struggled to sustain attention on learning tasks, especially reading and writing. Thus began our path of discovering dyslexia and ALL OF THE THINGS. His first diagnosis came in the middle of kindergarten, he met the criteria for a child with ADHD. Interestingly, my own diagnosis of adult ADHD quickly followed (that’s a story for another time). Managing his ADHD did allow him the ability to attend better and we saw some progress, he continued to struggle with reading and writing.

His continued struggle despite practice and intervention at school led me down the proverbial rabbit hole of research. That is when I first found the word dyslexia. As I read about dyslexia, I saw how Z checked all of the boxes. I asked lots of questions and initiated the special education process. He was ultimately denied an IEP near the end of 2nd grade. We sought out a private evaluation and he was diagnosed with dyslexia the summer before 3rd grade. Moving forward Z was given a 504 Plan and we had two more heartbreaking IEP denials.

Because I was still learning and completely trusting my school district, we tried every program they suggested. We did some vision therapy that was suggested by our private evaluator to improve tracking and saccadic eye movements. While this helped him have fewer headaches and fatigue while reading, it didn’t TEACH him to read.

I would continue to battle my district and ask for better programming that was Orton-Gillingham-based to help him improve his reading skills while using classroom accommodations to reduce the workload and anxiety. It was exhausting in EVERY way and still, my boy was struggling and experiencing anxiety and depression. We needed a support system, a community.

When Z was in 6th grade we were able to get him a Barton tutor Mary, my business partner, whom I met in a dyslexia support group for parents that she started, began tutoring Z.

This was life-changing for him, me, and our family. We finally had some help that was making a difference in his life. His confidence was up and anxiety was decreasing some. It was a WIN!!

We had Z’s final 504 meeting this school year and it was bittersweet. You see, he is a senior in high school- he did it. We did it!! There were so many dark, hard days that I doubted we would make it to this day. But here we are! He had enough credits to do a flex program that allows him to leave school after 4th hour and go to work. He is thriving! It might not be in the typical way, but in four short months, I will be cheering him on and probably crying as he walks across that stage for his diploma! This kid is going to do great things, just watch!

I know this journey is rocky and exhausting. Don’t give up. Find a support system, rest when needed. There is hope. Everything will be okay.

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