Mum, I don’t want to be different!

Attending Secondary School

It was my sons first parents evening since starting his secondary school and, like all the other parents, I was looking forward to finding out how he was getting on with his studies but also how he had settled into year 7.

He doesn’t attend our local school, instead he travels to the next borough. His older brother had attended the same school and he wanted to follow in his footsteps and go to the same school. My son started school in year 7 whilst his older brother was in year 11 – his final year at school.

Dyslexia screening

Although, I had appointments with his subject teachers I really wanted to talk to the SENCO.

Back in junior school – year 4 – I had been told by his optician that he was showing signs of dyslexia after they had done an intensive eye test on him. I had mentioned it to his school, but nothing was done about it as his reading age was beyond his years.

In the first couple of months of starting secondary school they put the children through a few tests including dyscalculia and dyslexia screening. I was eager to know the scores because of the previous test he had done, but every time I called the school I was informed that the results wasn’t through yet. A few months had passed and I received a letter from the school regarding the results. It had come back that my son was showing signs of dyslexia and they wanted to put him into intervention groups to help him with it. Of coarse, I wanted all the help he could get so he started to attend a special programme called Alpha to Omega and had extra Literacy lessons.

The struggles

As I mentioned before, you couldn’t fault my sons reading. At the age of 11 he has a reading age of a 17 year old. You could have a very intelligent conversation with him and his choice of wording would be very detailed, he was articulate and detailed. He would use a wide range of vocabulary when explaining things to you but this was not evident in his writing.

He struggled with his handwriting, spellings, taking more than one order, tying his shoe-laces, confusing his direction, forgetfulness and mixing up letters and numbers, such as ‘b’ and ‘d’ and ‘9’ and ‘p’.

He found it hard to get to grips with the times tables, recalling the days of the week and months of the year in order and remembering mathematical facts.

Learning to adapt

As the years have gone on, my boy has learned to deal with it himself. He has been persistent and resilient in his learning. He would choose the easier way out when it came to writing – simplifying his sentences omitting difficult words with easy words.

He wears his watch on the left wrist so he knows which is left and right, without it he can be lost -literally!

We have spent years practicing his times tables and we spend at least an extra hour a week just going over sums. He has learned to love maths and this has helped him.

He is given chores around the house to do, telling him to do one thing and following it with another order. For example; asking him to go upstairs to find a book and to put it back in another place.

Back to Parents Evening

Even though we have always believed him to show signs of dyslexia we have never actually been told by someone in education that he does have it.

My son has been attending two sessions a weeks for the past 4 months in school, missing out on subjects that he really enjoys to get the extra support in specific areas of need.

As we sat down with the SENCO and she went through his scores from the tests taken earlier in the year.

Mild in Dyslexia

Scored very low in Dyscalculia

We sat and talked about his struggles or signs and she agreed that he needs extra support, but what has been given to him may need to be at the next level as he says he is finding it too easy within the group.

Dyscalculia test

We are not sure that the results reflect his ability. As part of the test he was asked to answer by pushing the right or left button for the correct answers but obviously not being able to identify his left and right didn’t reflect the true answers.

SENCO have agreed for him to sit the test again in October with the new year 7’s coming up into the senior school and this time they will label the buttons with L and R to help him.

I don’t want to be different

It was the first time that my son had been told he was dyslexic and had dyscalculia. We had discussed it before but it had never been confirmed by a test.

As we walked out of the school, my son turned to me and said

“I don’t want to be different!”

My heart broke.

I told him that he isn’t different. He is still him. Nothing has changed.

I reminded him that we are all different and that the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. We all have something that makes us different from one another, but now we can work on his as we now know what he is struggling with.

Nothing changes for us, we will keep encouraging him to achieve and we will keep on spending time with him going over his spellings and times tables.

I understand that he just wants to fit in with his friends, that he needs to feel secure and safe within his environment. He reassures me that no one is picking on him for attending interventions, but it’s just painful to him to finally hear that he has different educational needs to his peers.

It’s time now for him to shine as now he is receiving the support that he deserves. I have reminded him that he has already acquired and developed skills to get him to where he is now. He is already in top set for Maths and English. We just need to be positive about this, I want him to know that it’s Ok to be different!

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