My daughter was diagnosed with severe dyslexia last week. She has also been diagnosed with severe dyscalculia.
Now I know lots of famous people have dyslexia (and probably dyscalculia) and lots of not famous people are afflicted as well. But that doesn't help my daughter.
It might seem late for us to realise that she has dyslexia. In fact, way back when Abigail was in Reception, age 4, I had my suspicions. By age 5, I knew. But the eductional professionals insisted that it was way too early to tell. So we waited. Last year, we had a preliminary confirmation of the dyslexia but the degree of the impairment was unknown.
In the middle of last year, Abigail had been seeing an Addiontal Education Needs teacher and was getting loads of support from the school. We saw a massive improvement in her reading ability and small gains in her maths. But let me put this in perspective for you.
Where Abigail could not read at all at the beginning of last year, she was able to sound out 3, 4, and some 5 letter words. But quite often she guessed and she got it wrong. Reading took a long time. She was frustrated because there is no one on this planet who tries harder than Abigail.
Then it started to impact everything else.
So we called in a professional.
Dyslexia is a language processing neurological abnormality. Her brain can't process language, either when you are speaking to her, partiuclarly quickly, or reading, or writing. Even when she is trying to speak to others, she struggles with getting the words out of her mouth.
Then the panic and anxiety sets in. She becomes tense and hostile. Then she becomes frustrated. Then she becomes distraught. Finally, she begins to think she is stupid and dumb. When, in fact, she is neither. She is incredibly bright and clever and funny and friendly and polite and wonderful in so many ways.
Just not the way school requires her to be. As I parent, there is nothing worse than watching your child go through this.
Dsycalculia is the same processing abnormality except that it applies to all mathematical concepts. So for example, she has no idea what adding 4 and 1 together should be. She has to use a number grid and count everything out.
Sure there are worse things in life. She doesn't have cancer. She can walk. She isn't going to die in the foreseeable future.
But that doesn't mean that my heart isn't breaking in a million pieces as I try to process this and plan what to do about her future as she may need a specialist school.
The diagnosis does go a long way to explaining some characteristics we've noticed. Abigail enjoys playing with younger children. They speak more slowly and more simply. She can process that. Abigail has a wild and wooly imagination. She can get lost in the world inside her head for hours. She often gets "carried away", as she says. I call it distraction.
So, I have dealt with this the only way I know how. I am researching on the internet. I am in contact with various support organisations. I have ordered and have already begun to read stacks of books. I've bought countless apps for her iPad. We will have a plan. I don't know what that plan is yet. But we will get there.
But first I must figure out a way to explain this all to Abigail. And, for me, this is proving the most difficult. She knows she struggles. But I can't quite get my head around what and how to tell her.
In the meantime, if anyone has any sage advice, I am open and willing to listen to any and all experiences.