Jacob’s Road to Recovery, the Ups and Downs

Jacob Day 15

I am not greeted with a game of hide-and-seek today.  It is quiet in Jacob’s sprawling Victorian home, and I am a bit frazzled as I visit with Michelle.  I hear movement from the kitchen and Jacob sneaks up on me, somewhat hesitantly.  He isn’t the same, confident boy I worked with the previous week.

Michelle looks upset.  Her usual generous smile is gone and her eyebrows are furrowed.  She waits for Jacob to go up to his room and then tears stream down her face.  Jacob seems to have digressed.  He is not working as well.  He is throwing temper tantrums, which is new for him. And they are happening every night.  He is reversing letters again.  She is sure that the work we have done hasn’t helped at all and she is starting at square one again.

I sigh.  I have been through this so many times.  I always explain about the journey we take with the child before I even start – that they all improve, but along the way they fall backward sometimes.  I had told Michelle this during one of our first conversations – to expect him to fall backward a bit at times.  But she looks devastated, and I can’t help feeling that I failed her as well as Jacob.  I have never seen a parent rejoice as much as Michelle when her son makes strides.  Of course, it makes sense that she will feel the downs in a much more severe manner.

I explain to Michelle that the brain likes to work and it then needs to rest.  Jacob’s digression is really a good thing because it means his brain is working and resting.  And, even with his digression, he is still further along academically than when we started a  few months ago.  I remind her that this is normal, that most of the kids do this, especially if they have been diagnosed with dyslexia. That it is part of the process.  She agrees, but I can tell she is still dismayed.  She is such a high achiever, that going backward is not a choice.  Unfortunately, she will just have to sit tight and ride this one out.

I set to work with Jacob, paying close attention.  Yes, he has slipped backward.  Activities that were previously easy are now difficult for him. He seems to be in a fog again, not as aware of what is going on around him, not as attentive. Finally, I listen to Jacob read.  Fortunately, he has not regressed in his reading abilities.  He impressed me there.  But when I have him write, he reverses a b for a d, something he hasn’t done for a while. I end our session and promise to see him next week and wonder what is in store for us.

The drive home leaves my stomach in knots.  I not only saw fear in Michelle’s eyes, I saw desperation.  I wonder if she will ride the course.  All too often, at the first sign of digression, parents stop and search for another program or system that they think is the “next coming”.  All too often, it is either more academics, which didn’t work in the first place, or the latest “snake oil” someone is selling.

Dyslexia can be overcome, but it isn’t an overnight fix.  I sigh, fully expecting a call from Michelle to stop with Jacob, and it is distressing.  Not for me.  I will be fine either way.  It is Jacob I worry about.  It is Jacob who stole my heart, and I want the best for him.

I shall wait and see…

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