Saturday, April 2, 2016

I Am the Mother of That Kid...

I am the mother of that kid...that kid who blurts out in class and talks all the time! 

I am the mother of that kid...that kid who has no problem telling you he loves you and is wise beyond his years.  

I am the mother of that kid...that kid who never finishes his work and sometimes distracts others in his class. 

I am the mother of that kid...that kid who can carry on a conversation like a thirty year old and comes up with amazing and innovative ideas and inventions.  

I am the mother of that kid...that kid who is always on the go and can't seem to sit in a chair while the teacher is teaching.  

I am the mother of that kid...who is an unbelievable climber and now does it as a sport.  

I am the mother of that kid...that kid who gets so frustrated with his classwork that he may act out by showing visible signs of frustration. 

I am the mother of that kid...that kid who wants so badly to do well but is battling things he can't control.  

I am the mother of that kid...that kid who wants people to see his talents and gifts that can be easily hidden by his struggles.

This is a personal blog post for me, but I've met so many people lately who have similar struggles as my son and I felt called to write about our families' experience.  Hopefully it can help someone, or if nothing else help them feel a little less isolated in their experience.  

As a teacher we all imagine what it will be like when we have our own children.  I remember thinking I can't wait for my precious child to be in my school with me.  He will be so well behaved and will be a high achiever. 

I read to him in the womb and throughout his life.  I did everything I was supposed to do so he would most definitely have a wonderful school experience. I should have known better. You know the saying; God laughs while we make plans?  He was really laughing at me! Before I continue, I want to say that I would not change one thing about our experience. Not one! I feel so blessed that God chose us to be my son's parents and our experience has made me a better teacher and mother. 

 I've often said that figuring out how to help him has been like a chess game. We've been to every doctor you can imagine. Had every test done you can imagine. We've tried various medications and therapy.  

His main issues began in first grade. He couldn't focus at all!  We went to the pediatrician and he was put on ADHD medication.  To make a long story short, that year we tried 3 different medications and I felt like I had lost my child. He wouldn't eat or sleep and he became very aggressive. It was heart breaking.  

After seeing a neurologist, he advised us to detox him from all the medication. We decided to have him repeat first grade because he basically missed his whole year.  He was young anyway so we thought it could give him an extra year to catch up.  During all of these experiences I would try reading with him and he would melt down.  He would cry and scream. He couldn't track as he was reading. I was at a loss. I taught first grade! I couldn't figure out how I could teach hundreds of kids to read but not my own son. I knew my child was smart. He had a huge verbal vocabulary and would carry on detailed conversations about a variety of things.  

His second year in first grade we saw the same issues.  I was terrified to put him back on medication.  At the end of his second year in first grade he still couldn't read. Even his therapist was at a loss on what to do to help him.  I'm someone who likes to meet issues head on and fix them, and no matter what I did or who I reached out to, I couldn't help my own child.  It was devastating for my husband and me.  

The summer after his second year in first grade we were at his eye doctor and while waiting in the waiting room I saw a pamphlet about visual processing disorder.  As I was reading, I saw that my son had all the qualities of someone who may have this disorder. I asked the eye doctor and she said that she does the testing there in her office. She said it would take about 2 hours and insurance didn't cover it. I've never been so excited to spend over three hundred dollars in my life.  If this was part of his issue, then my husband and I would do anything we could to help him.  

After the test was done, we got the results a couple of weeks later.  The eye doctor explained to us that he did have visual processing disorder and dyslexia. She went on the explain scientifically what that meant.  It was pretty overwhelming, so she dumbed it down for us. Thank God! She said that for him, it's like we're sending him to the store to buy groceries for the whole family for the week and only sending him with enough money to buy bread.  That's what school has been like for him.  We were both on the verge of tears at that point, but we wiped the tears and asked her what the action plan should be.  She suggested vision therapy each week so she could help train both of his eyes to work together.  My husband and I felt such relief. We had a game plan and that was the first time we've had one of those! He immediately began vision therapy and we worked on it at home as well. 

When my son began his second grade year, I went in asking for a 504 plan so modifications would have to be made to help him learn (In Tennessee they don't test for dyslexia or visual processing so we couldn't get an IEP. We used his dyslexia diagnosis to get the 504). My son would always say when he read the words bounced all over the page.  So not only was he seeing double of everything on the page, the words were bouncing, too!   I can't even imagine. No wonder he would melt down.  We discovered when text was printed on blue paper it stopped the bouncing. We tried lots of colors, but blue was what worked for him.  We tried overlays and they didn't work as well, but we used them for books and things like that.  He did show some growth that year with the help of a good teacher but he still wasn't where he should be.  

Fast forward to third grade.  I got a new job at a smaller school and the boys came with me.  We did find a great non-stimulant medication which helped him with focus, and with the help of an amazing resource teacher and some good classroom teachers he began to catch up.  I remember the first time he read a billboard without help.  I cried!  

My son is now in fourth grade. He's reading at grade level! He's basically grown 4 years in a year and a half! He begs to stay up late and read at night.  I never thought we would be where we are today.  Don't get me wrong, he still struggles. He still has some behavior issues that can be frustrating for his teachers.  He sometimes needs to take a break.  He will never sit still in a seat, and he can still be distracting to others.  With some minor adjustments on the teacher's part he is able to work through these things.  When I first saw all of these posts and ideas that Kayla Delzer, Kindergarten Smorgasbord, and Erin Klein has shared about flexible seating I had an aha moment! For a kid like my son, that environment would really help him.

I asked my son today if he cared if I shared his story. We talk openly to him about his issues, but we never let him use them as an excuse to not do his best. We tell him all the time God created him for a special purpose and he will need to go through the hard times and learn the lessons God meant for him to learn.  He told me if someone read his story and it helped them at all he would be happy about that. 

I know this was a long post.  If you made it this far and you have a child in your classroom or even your own child who is struggling please know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zones as teachers and parents and make minor adjustments to help children be successful.  We all learn in different ways and at times it's like a chess game, but if you keep searching, keep learning, and always do your best it will all be okay. 


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am a mother of "that child" too and sometimes it is a lonely feeling. I would love to know what you are using that is non stimulant as far as medication goes, I do believe that is our next step. Again, thank you!

  2. Michelle,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my son's story. It has been a long road but he's doing so much better. I'm sorry you've had to deal with some of the same issues. The medicine that worked for him was Strattera. I hope this helps!

  3. You are a great momma and a great teacher! Both of your boys are blessings! I'm proud of B and you for sharing his story! ♡

  4. You are a great momma and a great teacher! Both of your boys are blessings! I'm proud of B and you for sharing his story! ♡

  5. Great Post <3 Amazing job advocating for your son!! It is a full-time job all by itself. I can really relate to this post as I have been through ADHD & Asperger's diagnoses with my son in Elementary school. You must be so proud of how far he has come <3 That is all thanks to you!! Fantastic work Mama <3

    1. Thanks so much Heidi for taking the time to read this post. It's so nice to hear when people can relate to you and understand what you've been through. Being a mom is not for the weak!