Jacob greets me at the door today with a huge Cheshire cat smile. He seems a lot more relaxed. I guess he figured that I didn’t kill him last week so maybe this all might prove to be interesting.
We set right to work and Michelle goes upstairs to do her own work. I go through the same series of brain exercises, and they still seem difficult for Jacob to do. He seems awkward with all of his body movements, and it looks like he might literally fall a couple of times. Having him hold his eyes in a particular position is also very difficult for him. He wants to keep looking at me. The Magic Eight chart activity is especially difficult for him. I have to help him with his letters while he makes the lazy eight pattern.
Eye tracking is still a chore beyond belief for Jacob. His eye is patched and he works away, stopping to visit with me.
Aha. I have figured out his modus operandi. If he sidetracks me with visiting, then he can get out of his difficult chore. I know he’s not doing it on purpose, but it does work. Since he is so smart, he naturally has figured out a way to get around doing difficult assignments. He’s so agreeable, friendly, and interesting, it is easy to get pulled into this coping mechanism of his.
I firmly point to his tracking book and redirect him. This becomes our pattern for the day, and he willingly goes back to work, only to stop, look me in the eyes, and tell or ask me something interesting. I volley back at him and he serves me up another tidbit.
Once again I remind him that he can talk and work at the same time. He gives me a look that lets me know he thinks I’m crazy.
We go through the rest of our exercises in a similar manner. He doesn’t fight me at all, but I can tell he is getting tired. His eyes are watering a bit and he is slouching. I listen to him read before I leave. Not bad; I’ve certainly heard worse, but he’s certainly not where he needs to be. He stumbles over words, reverses b’s and d’s as well as 9’s and 6’s and words like saw and was. He guesses at words he doesn’t know and it is obvious that reading is torture for him.
Before I go, Michelle shows me some books that she has been having him read. They are small, thin books with large print. I give her a thumbs up.
Next, she shows me a chapter book she has been trying to get him to read, but no dice. He will have nothing to do with it. The look of sadness and disappointment in Michelle’s eyes is obvious. I advise her to put the dragon book away until Jacob has more skills. She explains that the other kids in his former class were reading chapter books. She is frustrated. Will Jacob ever learn to read? Will he ever catch up? We talk about commitment to the program and to be patient and let me work my magic with Jacob.
Thankfully, Michelle listens. I say my good-byes, and know how hard it is to trust when your child has a learning disability like dyslexia. There are too many “snake oil” salesmen out there to make trust an easy feeling. But one thing I know. Michelle has had the means to try everything else to help Jacob overcome his learning issues, and nothing has worked. I am a last resort. She knows it, and so do I. I feel bad for her, though, because I have carried so many children through this same journey with a happy ending, and I know her fear is real. She really isn’t sure there will be a happy ending, and like most parents, she wants a fix. Right here. Right now.
How I wished it worked that way…
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