Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Realising your child has learning difficulties

It's funny, because I have been so focussed on my son's lack of talking that I haven't paid that much attention to my daughter's prowess.  I thought she was totally fine, an intelligent little girl, who learned to speak at an early age, and sing the national anthem at age 2.  She could do her alphabet and numbers from an early age, and we would read books and she learned to recognise words but I noticed she would often do predictive wording - saying the word without really reading it, but saying what she thought it should be.

She didn't really like daycare but she was having difficulty following instructions so I thought it was good for her.  And then she started Kindergarten and she really loves going to school.  She loves to show me her books from school and her new words books.

However, she has always had difficulty with phonetics.  Even when I tried to teach her she couldn't do it last year, I thought she would grow out of it.  She can do simple phonetics for each one of letter of the alphabet, but she couldn't join the phonetics together.  I thought it was her being stubborn, but I realised tonight when I was trying to do her words with her that she really struggled with it.  And she got bored when she kept getting them wrong.

It dawned on me, does my daughter have dyslexia?

Dyslexia does not mean you're retarded. Wikipedia defines it as:
Dyslexia is a very broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person's fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read, and which can manifest itself as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, processing speed, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, language skills/verbal comprehension, and/or rapid naming.
At first, I was a bit shocked.  My daughter, who is the progeny of two intelligent parents, has a learning difficulty?  Then I shook myself.  It doesn't mean my daughter is stupid.  It just means that she learns differently.

However, my own relatives think I am being paranoid.  My husband thinks our daughter is just mucking around.  I can imagine that my own mother would say that I haven't been encouraging her properly.  However, I can see that if I don't intervene soon and make it easier for her, she will be left behind and then she will not enjoy school anymore.  She told me today, when we were reading, that she didn't want to do the hard words, only the easy ones.  I told her that all words are easy once she learns them.

So, I have a meeting with her teacher on Thursday.  It's probably nothing to do with dyslexia, it may have something to do with her testing that she did early in the year.  But whatever it is, I think it's important that I have an active role in my daughter's education.

On the flipside, I took my son for a hearing test, as a workup for him going to speech pathology.  His hearing was perfect.  And he did the task very well.  He was asked to hear a sound and then drop a ball into a slot and watch it roll down the hole.  I have never seen him so interested and concentrating so hard.  I guess you just have to find what the right way to engage him is.  The audiologist said that my son was very good and had excellent concentration - I nearly thought, who is this child and where is my son?  My son still only has about 100 words, but he has been stringing 3 words together now but still has a lot of unintelligibility.  He understands what I'm saying and can do complex tasks like making breakfast and using the microwave when I tell him to.  I hope that he turns out ok as well.

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