Our Family’s Story in Dealing with Learning Disorders
When our middle daughter Madison was in preschool, we noticed that she was not learning as fast, or processing things as well as our first daughter had at that age. We didn’t think much about it, and didn’t get too concerned because we thought she would outgrow it, that she would catch up. That did not happen, and this is where our story begins.
At that point, we had been home schooling our oldest daughter for one year and we were just getting comfortable with that role. When it came time to school Madison, I became very frustrated because I could not teach her in the same way, she just didn’t get it.
She needed a lot of hands on activities, she did not like to work out of a workbook, and she seemed to forget things from one day to another. When it came time to teach her to read, she struggled, and I lost my patience more times than I want to admit. This really affected our relationship. We both longed for the weekends when we didn’t have to do school.
We finally decided to seek help. The first step was to rule out vision and hearing problems. After taking her to the optometrist, we found out that she had severe eye tracking and convergence problems. That led us to check into vision therapy. We got several opinions and decided that was what she needed. I was hoping that would solve all the problems.
We drove two hours every week for eight months to attend a very expensive vision therapy program which was not covered by insurance. After just several sessions we saw a great amount of improvement. Her reading seemed to be less of a struggle. When she graduated from the therapy sessions the eye tests showed she had improved dramatically, her tracking was much better. So we thought, problem solved!
She did well for a while, but we soon became aware that eye problems were not the only thing we were dealing with. At this point I was very discouraged and school was not going well. Her self esteem was low, she continued to struggle to learn, and I was doubting my ability to teach her.
We had some really terrible days which affected our whole family. There were many times that I just gave up and her dad had to take over the teaching. He is much more patient than I. I prayed and prayed, and the Lord kept telling me to hang on and rely on him.
When she was nine we took her to our pediatrician, a great doctor, whom we trust completely. We had her evaluated and he diagnosed her with ADD. He wanted to put her on medicine, but we didn’t feel the need to do that. Her behavior was not bad, she was not hyper, and we didn’t want her to experience any side effects of the medicine. We would just have to adapt.
We felt the best thing to do was continue to keep her home and tailor school to meet her needs. I feel like this was, and still is, the best thing we can do for her. We are blessed to have the ability and the freedom to home school. I don’t think she would do as well in a school setting.
I stayed up many late nights doing endless hours of reading and research, as well as talking with other families in the same situations. I was looking for answers. We found out by trying many different types of curriculum that she learns best by doing the Unit Study approach.
We used the Five In A Row program for several years, and now use My Father’s World. Both of these programs use living books. I’ve also discovered that she is an audio learner. She uses Teaching Textbooks for math now because she can watch and hear the lessons on our computer. She is doing so much better. She has developed a greater sense of accomplishment because she can do this on her own. She has accepted that learning just doesn’t come as easily for her and that it’s okay because she’s good at so many other things.
She is now twelve and growing up beautifully. She has great character and a very caring personality. She has started her own pet service business, loves to babysit, and is learning to play the guitar. She has so many gifts that outshine academics. She is creative, caring, she loves to talk to anyone, has good friends, and has a heart for God. What else could a parent ask for in a child??
Dealing with her disorder continues to be my biggest frustration and my greatest joy. I have come to understand more about myself, and that I can’t do this alone. This is my calling, and I must walk worthy of the calling in which I have been called. I must rely on the Lord.
Our story is …
To be continued …