Dated 27th of November, 2010. I’ve been going through all my drafts trying to get a nice clean slate. Most of the drafts aren’t worth keeping honestly but this brought back a lot of memories of the struggles our eldest was having in the school system. I wish I had published it back then to have a record of what we were going through with his Dyspraxia diagnosis (something our youngest was also diagnosed with, but his presented differently behaviourally. For our youngest it was more his gross and fine motor skills effected).
For my own record keeping, here’s the post from 2010.
First comes the guilt. How could I have watched my child struggle for all these years and never realised there was something actually wrong? How many of my issues over the years with him come down to this condition? I thought he was just difficult and naughty. Oh so many years of anger and discipline…when all along his angry outbursts and inability to follow instructions wasn’t him just being disobedient it was a medical condition. I should have known. I feel like I have failed my son in so many ways.
Then comes my gripe with the Queensland Education system. How on earth did we go through so many parent-teacher meetings where my concerns and there’s were discussed and just settle on, “He just needs to work on his fine motor skills“. Why did no one put the pieces together? Poor social interactions with his peer’s (he has been bullied and struggled to maintain friendships even as far back as 2 years of age), poor fine motor skills, poor gross motor skills, he couldn’t read without help until he was 8 years old, inability to follow a sequence of instructions (eg. write out the sentence on the blackboard, place your book on my desk and then sit on the carpet). I’m convinced they just thought he wasn’t bright and moved on.
Next comes this overwhelming relief that finally there may be answers.
This is not my first mention of my struggles with my eldest son on this blog. In fact I have been blogging during his entire school life.
Here is a post I wrote just over 4 years ago during his first year of schooling. I was racked with guilt then too. I thought it was my fault he wasn’t at the same level as his peers. I was convinced that all these other kids had better qualified parents and that I was the cause for his downfall.
Earlier this year when Alex turned 9 I briefly mentioned that Alex has always been a challenge to raise and that I feel like we’ve had unreasonable expectations of him all his life.
This experience with him being bullied has been an ongoing theme throughout his schooling. Since moving to England we’ve noticed they crack down on bullying a lot harder here. In some ways I think its just easier for them to identify bullying going on with small enclosed playgrounds as opposed to Australia’s big oval’s and sprawled school grounds. It must be near impossible for every student to be in line of sight of a teacher in Aus, here space is limited. The social problems he had last year were just simply that kids stopped wanting to hang out with him after a little while. He made several friends over the course of the year but none of the friendships stuck for long. He tries so hard and we always try and help him along by buying him whatever the new “thing” is that people are playing with at school (last year we went through Match Attax Cards, Pokemon figures and Go-Go Crazy Bones).
The revelation came yesterday evening when we had a meeting with Alex’s teacher to discuss his progress so far. For the very first time I feel like we met a real proper educator. Someone who gets kids. Someone who doesn’t just follow the syllabus for the school term but who actually understands how to EDUCATE children. She was frank with us. She laid down her observations of Alex honestly and talked us through what it all meant. With our go ahead she is now organising an Educational Psychologist to come in and assess him.
Our experience with all the other teachers over the years has been:
- They strongly stress that he’s a lovely, polite boy and a pleasure to have around.
- When we query how he’s coping socially they throw out some names of students he’s friends with (regardless of if these friendships lasted all of 2 weeks) and say he fits in just fine.
- When we query his messy hand writing we are told that its not uncommon for a boy his age.
- In fact at his previous school in England I think we fed his teacher an easy excuse for all of his difficulties, she just simply blamed him having missed 6 months of Year 2 back in Aus when we moved…and that was that.
The teacher we spoke to last night:
- Certainly highlighted that he’s a lovely boy with wonderful manners…but unlike other teachers this was only the beginning of her observations.
- She showed us his hand writing. Explained how it differs from what she would expect from a 9 to 10 year old.
- She told us how long it had taken him to write those two paragraphs with assistance (40 minutes).
- Explained that he is on a table with a staff member assisting him for all of his school work (she had identified his need for this a few weeks into the school year).
- Described how he not only struggles to interpret an idea and write it down but that he also struggles to process the train of thought and then verbalise them.
- The biggest revelation? She described his social interactions with his peers (after all how can a parent have a clue about this when all she gets is her childs recounting of what went on today?). She described her observations of him on the playground. She told us that the one child he can consistently play with has some similar issues and that the two of them play alongside each other but not really together but individually.
- She told us that his intense difficulties with controlling his pencil along with the other concerns looks to be very much like Dyspraxia.
On arriving home I googled Dyspraxia (not something I had ever heard of) and as I read the list of Symptoms I just wanted to cry.
It makes so much sense. Not just the learning difficulties…but the headaches? The emotional outbursts? His rage issues (stemming from his frustration with everything being so hard to grasp). The way he doesn’t follow instructions…