We think we may have struck gold! Gold in the form of a program that we are VERY optimistic about in dealing with some learning/reading/processing issues that Anna has been struggling with since the 2nd grade, for 4 years. That is too long!! With the help of her 2nd (Mrs. House), 3rd (Mrs. Gary) and 4th (ME!) grade teachers, we have diligently sought out what might be going on in that complex brain of hers.
This beautiful child is created by and is an incredible gift from God.
He knew every ounce of her being before she was even born. Psalm 139
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
She is a social genius :) and the most tender-hearted, merciful and loving human being I know. She is worth every minute of our time and ounce of effort we can give her in our parenting journey. She is so incredibly smart and if anyone ever told her she wasn’t, I’m pretty sure I’d punch them in the face. I digress…. God created her and I honestly don’t think it was a surprise to Him that she has struggles. Her struggles are forming her to become the sweetest, most compassionate and loving person and there are no limits to how I know He will use her to fulfill His purpose down the line. THIS is why Tommy and I MUST do whatever it takes to guide her, train her and encourage her through her formative years. She will one day fly solo and we don’t want to be responsible for not helping her grow her wings.
During the 2nd grade, Anna was in the Gifted and Talented program while she was simutaneously put into a Remedial Reading program. That just did not compute. Her teacher is the one who came to us and was genuinely concerned that something was going on. During that same year, her confidence level began a rapid downward spiral that ended up with us knowing by the middle of her 3rd grade year that, if for no other reason, we had to homeschool which we did for her 4th grade year. She made it through the 3rd grade thanks to a wonderful teacher (and a supportive principal and asst. principal) who championed the process of getting Anna tested for Irlens Syndrome and Dyslexia through the school system. We were not thrilled with having her labeled as Special Needs but if that was the issue, we were all about facing it head on if it would help her to not feel dumb. Turns out she did not have either of these. It’s possible that Anna has a slight case of ADD but even that was not bad enough to compel us to start any medications. Although we did start and still continue to use natural supplements for focus and brain health. We did that during her 4th grade homeschool year and we noticed a considerable difference in her ability to focus and just sit still and accomplish a task. It took a while but it did help.
So our goal during the 4th grade homeschool year was simple. We were going to strive to achieve building up her confidence level and try to get a glimpse of any clues that maybe someone else had missed. When certain methods didn’t work or she seemed seriously frustrated, my husband and I would discuss and often come up with a different angle of accomplishing the same task. Just for instance, when she was faced with timed tests like 5 minutes to read a passage and answer 10 questions or math speed drills that she was supposed to finish in 2 minutes or 4 minutes or whatever, she absolutely froze. When I just gave her the drill, though, and told her relax and do it and see how long it took her, she did great and usually completed it in the time it said to do it in anyway. If your child is struggling with similar issues as Anna, please don’t think that what worked for Anna will work for yours. I would just advise you to think outside the box and try super hard to get into your kids head and figure out how he/she thinks. And love them like crazy! One other thing we did that we believe really helped was to read to her during the summer before her 4th grade year. We just figured that if she hated to read, she could still love books. Tommy read to her ALL the time. If she wanted a book, we bought it (age appropriate of course). If she wanted to read we let her but usually Tommy just read to her. We did not want her to get frustrated. So it was just for fun and just for the love of a good story and to teach her that all those words on a page were not put there to torture her. It worked. She loves books and loves to read even though she still has some issues with it all.
At some point, we met a lady named Karen. She ran a race on a team that my husband ran on and during that race Tommy discovered that she homeschools all 6, I believe, of her children. Maybe only 5, not sure. When we decided to homeschool Anna, I contacted her. She helped me through our decision and curriculum choices and was a brilliant cheerleader for me throughout the year. We became quick friends, mostly in cyber world but friends nonetheless. During our communications, she began to describe Anna’s struggles to me as if she had known her all of her life. And actually she sort of has with a family member of her own, but that’s her story, not mine.
Karen sent me the link to her business, The Woodlands Learning Center. I dug. I processed. Tommy and I discussed and I dug some more. Karen and I chatted fairly often but it took me some time to get to the point where I knew enough about what I thought was going on with Anna to decide that we needed to head that direction. The whole concept of what they do is basically forming new pathways in the brain to help process information more efficiently. I won’t tell you all about it because, well, I don’t know all about it myself, but you should go dig for yourself. We are incredibly optimistic that this program will be just the “lightbulb moment” we’ve been praying for.
We came back to Texas (we live in Singapore) in March of this year for various reasons but we really wanted Karen to do the assessment for Anna. We discovered that she had an auditory processing level of a 5 yr old and visual processing level of an 18yr old. That’s a pretty wide gap. All this time, I honestly thought that Anna was an auditory learner and taught her with that in mind. I can’t begin to think about how much time I might have wasted but God is merciful even in our shortcomings. And all the people said, “AMEN!”. :) Karen was confident that the PACE program (Processing and Cognitive Enhancement) would help her. She basically said that Anna has a long country road between her auditory and visual processing ability and she could build a toll road. It made perfect sense to Tommy and I. We began the program in our recent trip back to Texas and Karen explained to Anna that it’s not something she did or didn’t do, it just is. PACE should help her to process information more quickly thus helping her read and learn better and ultimately live a more confident life. Count us in!!
The program will take 12 weeks or so to complete. I don’t know all there is to know about it yet but I am very intrigued and excited by the prospect of it all for Anna and for her future. I just asked Anna how she felt about it and these were her words, “ugh. I think it’s going to help me but it will be like school.” Yes, it will be work. Yes, it might be tiring. But I happen to think we’ll have some fun too. :)
I’ll keep you posted.