Dyslexia and Sequencing

We were outside a few minutes ago. It was 10 o’clock and getting pretty dark. We saw a flash in the sky to the east. Then more and more. We came in since our yard has a track record of lightening strikes. Now, I’m sitting inside hearing the thunder roll in. I love thunderstorms, mostly. Less when they send 30 million volts into my big oak tree and flower bed shattering limbs, bricks and concrete. Maybe I’ll post more on that update to our landscaping later.

We’ve finally settled into the summer routine. I love not driving an hour round trip to drop the kids off at school. I love even more that they spend two nights a week at my mother’s. Bliss.

I suppose storms always make me pensive. Since I recall that I made a tiny list of things that I’d like to post about, and the first that my mind settled on was dyslexia, dyslexia it shall be.

I have far more frustrations and questions than answers when it comes to dyslexia. Even though my credentials say that I must have a wealth of knowledge on the subject including coping strategies and activities to improve skills, I feel dumb on most days when it comes to my own child. All that stuff is hard to put into practice when your kid can’t seem to do any of his every day tasks without getting steps out of sequence.

I’ve read that a lot of people think that dyslexia just means that a person can’t read. In fact, the word means reading dysfunction. Since most dyslexic kids struggle with reading on some level, and reading is the most visible affected deficit during school hours, the misconception is understandable.

The truth is, that not being able to read is just a symptom. It’s the result of not being able to match sounds with letters and not being able to get those sounds in the right order. Putting things in the right order = sequencing. Sequencing deficits affect every single thing we do every day. Everything we do from tying our shoes to fixing a PB&J requires steps that have to be done in the right order. A break down of those steps and you have peanut butter on the counter and the bread sack lying there open and shoe laces flopping getting the ends frayed as he walks back to the living room (against the rules) to eat his sandwich.

At school, kids with sequencing issues may have problems with reading, writing (including handwriting) and math. Yep, that covers just about all they do in school. All of them involve complex sequences of steps that must be done in the correct order, not to mention the classroom procedures of turning in works, going through the lunch line etc.

The answer to correct sequencing issues? It’s not as much accommodation as it is practice. And practice. And MORE practice. Developing actions until they become automatic just like a quarterback practicing throwing that perfect pass.

As a mom, I have to bear the brunt of all the crankiness that comes from asking for all that practice on things that he isn’t particularly good at. I mean, we like to do things we are good at. That’s a fairly common human trait. On the other hand, most of us get tired of having to constantly work on things that we are really terrible at. And, honestly, I get tired of having to remind the kid of the SAME exact thing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. By tired, I mean the bone deep emotional exhaustion.

I don’t have and answer on how to ease the weariness that comes with parenting a child with a learning disability. Not a good one anyway. The only one I have is, I can’t give up today. And tomorrow the answer will be the same.

The thunderstorm is already gone. I wish life calmed down that quickly.

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Where I’ve Been and Why It Took So Long

Today is the first day, in a very long while, that I’ve even attempted to write something coherent for the public to read.

In May 2015, 3 years and 3 days ago, I received my acceptance letter into that Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. The excitement of that day, dampened by my grandfather’s death a few days before, held nothing to foreshadow what school would do to hijack my life.

Not just me going back to school at 38, wait, WHAT!? Yes, I did. With 2 kids and the extraordinary help and support of my family — my WHOLE family. We ALL got me through that 2 years. We enrolled our son in Montessori School and now our daughter attends there as well.

For the last year, I’ve been working, learning the ropes of my new career.

I’ve missed writing. I haven’t written anything in so long that I was a afraid that I had forgotten how. But, just like everything else. I’m jumping back in. No planning ahead today. Just making a renewed commitment to pick up my keyboard again. And, oh does it feel good!

I want to take what I’ve learned on this sabbatical and share how it has helped and changed our lives for the better. Inside and out.

Some topics that I’m planning on covering are:

  • Occupational Therapy (what it is and who we are)
  • Montessori Education (especially the public school to Montessori transition)
  • Teaching Independence
  • Work, Life Balance
  • The Caregiver Role

My goal is to start conversations. I want to hear from you. I want to know what you think and what will help you live a more fulfilling life.

Post your questions in the comments below.

Pink and Purple Hearts

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If life is about compromise this year has been full of life. 

I’ve said before that birthday cakes might be my love language.  My baby girl turns four tomorrow.  My helpful,  sassy,  thoughtful baby girl. 

I don’t have time to bake her cupcakes this year.  I can’t stay up until 3 a.m. making fancy cookies for her school treats.

She stood right beside me while I pulled the store bought sugar cookies from the package and piped fake strawberry flavored frosting into little heart shapes. She counted down how many I had left.  She cheered for me when I got done.  And then her eyes sparkled and her mouth opened like a baby bird for some of the leftover frosting. 

The grace and acceptance that this girl gives never fails to amaze me –even when I’m not living up to my own standards, or especially when. 

She really doesn’t care that she won’t have fancy cupcakes.

I saw Jesus in my baby girl tonight.  She accepted those pink hearts not because they were perfect, or beautiful,  or gourmet flavored, but because I gave them to her.

Jesus accepts our hearts,  bruised and broken that they are.  He loves us because our brokenness is the best we have to offer. Then he takes it and gives us a way to love others.

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day: 1 in 4

psalm-100-5-squareI don’t talk about it much anymore. I didn’t even know there was a day for remembering pregnancy loss. It’s been a long time — twelve years, in fact. My days of remembering are usually December 26th and March 22nd.

Today, I saw a shared post that said that October 15th is Pregnancy & Loss Awareness day. But, I felt like today would be a good day to post since I haven’t in so long. I finally have a day off from school, though I probably should be doing homework.

Like I said, it’s been twelve years. I’m still a little sad after all this time. I think more than anything the time has allowed me to realize that the loss was more real when I was going through it. Sure, I felt it. I thought my heart had been ripped out. But it took years to see that there is hope even in the loss of a child. And even more years to finally understand that I lost more than a tiny life that I was carrying. Two lifetimes of daydreams and expectations disappeared instantly. That was when the grief came full circle.

The hope came, of course with our third pregnancy. Fear came too. But before that came a person who taught me what prayer was really supposed to be. With the simple gesture of giving me a slender pink book, she opened the door for me to tap into God’s grace, and freedom from fear. Just by reading over his promises and committing them to my heart.

The verses that I learned are still some of my favorites. Over time, speaking his truths changed my life… and healed my heart.

Psalm 137:3

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

If you are grieving a loss today, let me tell you, first, that you are not alone, and that you are not being silly or over-dramatic. Second, I want you to know that there is hope for healing even without all the answers. It’s OK to be angry and confused. There are people out there who understand. Find them.

I also want you to know that I’m praying for you today and that you are on my mind often. I understand your heartache — how your arms feel empty and how you wish you could look in your baby’s eyes. I want you to know that the love that you feel is genuine. Love is never wasted. No matter how small, love changes this world for the better.

I can’t make you any promises except one. God, Our Father, understands what it’s like to lose a child. He hears you when you call out. He is always listening. If you call to him, he will be there and with time, you will recover.

The Best Church

churchThe last 48 hours have been glorious.

This Sunday, we didn’t go to church. We got to be the church.

Friday, I got home in time to see my husband out the door and spent the rest of the day doing stuff. We will assume that it was important stuff because I did it. And mom’s don’t waste time on unimportant things, right? It probably had something to do with laundry. I do remember something about chips and guacamole for supper, and a glass of wine while we watched a movie for the 236th time. Yes, of course it was a Harry Potter movie!

Saturday I was on fire! I cleaned things. I cooked a big lunch. I started a demolition project in our laundry room, I unpacked two boxes, I outsmarted The Padawan to get him to jump on the trampoline (with the help of his competitiveness and The Owlet who thinks she’s the best — at everything). He was insisting that he was only tired while I knew he needed some input. I did the dishes and swept the floor and had time to knit a few rows on a scarf that I started back in 2013.

On. Fire.

After supper, The Padawan and I played video games. According to my fitness app, I burned 876 calories playing Just Dance 3 jumping around and waving my arms randomly to disco and 80s music.

Today, like most drill weekends, we ended up not going to church. Our schedule just isn’t going to be normal right now and I’m learning not to compare myself to people with 8 to 5 days and regular work weeks. I also had a dream conversation with The Hunter about staying home. Apparently, that never actually happened. I’m not the only one who does this, right?

We finally had to wake The Hunter up because he didn’t get home until the early morning hours.  It was the whole Family of Four piled in the bed. The Owlet was asking questions and it turned into a discussion of Heaven and Hell. She asked how people go to that real bad place. At first, we thought she meant jail. Then, we figured it out. :facepalm: She asked how you get to Heaven. So, we had Sunday School right there in our bedroom. We talked about loving Jesus and that Jesus is our friend. Then, she summed it all up in her wise little way by saying, “Jesus and Daddy take care of us.”

And, Yes! Yes, they do.

I ran to the store to get butter for our corn on the cob — came home with key lime pie ingredients. What!?

But that trip to the grocery store taught me some things other than that I can come up with the right ingredients for key lime pie on a whim.

The things I learned today:

1) If you skip church and go to the grocery store in a biker t-shirt and messy bun and head band, church ladies may give you that unsmiling head to toe look that isn’t because they are blinded by your brilliant white legs. I wear shorts in public about two times a year y’all — white as snow.

2) My family REALLY likes key lime pie!

3) There are days that spending the first few minutes of our limited family time together talking about Jesus is the best church we can ever be in.

I sincerely believe in the need for corporate worship and service. Most Sundays, our kids are in Sunday School and we are worshipping and listening to the sermon. However, our schedules are intense right now. We have very little time together as a family. It’s rare and special when we are all home and awake at the same time. So, today, in our great mission to be the church, we took time to nurture our children. We used an opportunity to build them up so that they will understand their true purpose in life is to follow Jesus and know that he will take care of us. It was amazing and spontaneous. And most importantly, it never would have happened if we had been doing the Sunday Morning Scuffle trying to get out the door.

Have you ever had to choose to spend time or serve together as a family instead of “going to church”? What did you do?

 

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