C is for Courage

Tucker is six. He has no idea that he has been struggling. He is very happy. Aside from his ability to memorize tremendous amounts of information and an affinity for being a great guesser, he can’t read very well.  We suspected there was a disconnect but we did not know the depth of the problem; we feel guilty. 

Our son has a significant reading disability. 

We are relieved to know and are fortunate to have discovered this so early; knowledge is power even when you have to pay thousands of dollars to get it. We are lucky, we caught this before he gets too frustrated, falls too far behind, decides he doesn’t like school and hates reading and before the public school system has a chance to disappoint us more.  

As an honor roll student (most semesters), I quietly struggled under the radar through school. Homework took me a lot longer than my peers, I failed to demonstrate my knowledge in timed tests making errors on the bubble sheets and simply not completing them due to lack of time, and constantly defended myself to countless teachers who claimed I didn’t study. If they only knew how hard I was working and what I really did know. As immensely frustrated  as I was I was equally driven to prove them all wrong. 

No one ever stopped to consider that maybe there was a problem, a disconnect between the student I was in class, the effort I was putting forth and exam grades. Sick and tired of being told I didn’t study, I walked into the office of the school psychologist mid way through my senior year in HS and requested to be tested for a learning disability.  I wasn’t stupid and I was so tired of feeling like I was. 

I had a hard time convincing her that I needed to be tested, but she finally broke down and administered a battery of tests. Well, HOT DAMN, guess what… I had a pretty bad learning disability and was dyslexic to boot.  Somehow, to this poor woman’s amazement and fascination, I had figured out how to compensate, get into every college I had applied to and managed to take AP classes and be an honor roll student. She was dumfounded and I couldn’t have felt happier.  I had been vindicated. No, silly teachers, I am not stupid… you just never took the time to see that there was a smart kid behind the veil of my struggling.  

I had persevered and I had compensated. I was able to keep going and push through the indifference and ignorance of teachers and succeed on my own. In the end, after a good look through my school records, it was discovered that in elementary school, my performance on a state exam was so poor that it got red-flagged. Here is the rub… no one in the school system ever told my parents. The system had failed me and I had fallen through the cracks leaving me to quietly navigate my own course.  The journey was not easy.

Today, as we process the news and diagnosis, I feel tremendously guilty that I passed on my problematic brains, yet thrilled his father shared his good brains given Tucker’s aptitude for math. There’s always got to be a silver lining!  We caught this early and that will be a tremendous advantage for him as he overcomes.  We also know he will face some of the same poor attitudes and misunderstandings about learning that I did, but he’ll face them knowing he is smart, capable, resourceful and supported. We are moving forward as his advocates grateful we were able to see past the generalities and poor communications from the school. We are grateful we trusted our instincts, moved passed inappropriate assumptions and saw the disconnect in his learning and got him help.

Have courage buddy. Courage is what has got me to where I am today and has kept me going.  You will succeed and you will do so with courage, this I know for sure.

One thought on “C is for Courage

  1. I cannot believe that you went sooooo long w/o being diagnosed! You have always amazed me…on the ball, organized, smart, etc! Yeah for you…take charge girl! 🙂

    Best wishes to your son. Hopefully his road will be easier! 🙂

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