“Congratulations,” a friend remarked to me recently, "You finally have a diagnosis.”
She was referring to the recent confirmation of my son’s dyslexia. I had long suspected, since the time that he was two to be exact, that my son’s aversion to Sesame Street was more innate than television snobbery.
When he began closing books and putting them aside while I was in the middle of reading to him, I took serious note of his behavior. Hurt feelings aside, because reading out loud to my children was one parental task that I was totally secure and competent in performing, it aroused a deep nagging suspicion within me that something between the written word and my child was out of sync. Because I have other children, I could not dismiss this feeling as inexperience.
For those of us who have multiple children, we marvel at their differences. The fact that every child is distinct and not like the other is what enables us to possess equal amounts of love and pride evenly for each one. But sometimes it is the differences that actually enables us to measure for certainty the progression of milestones, or lack thereof.
As my friend hugged me with her offer of congratulations, she did so in parental solidarity because she understood that the very nature of being a parent can sometimes put a person in the position of trying to swim against the waves of agreement from well-intentioned professionals who are in a position of interacting and assessing our children, but who do not possess the same insight of intuition.
A mother’s intuition is not yet accepted as a reliable diagnostic tool, so one must engage in standardized and medical testing in order to determine or confirm the reason as to why a child is just not getting things in the academic realm. I truly believe that the number of children who are able to learn by rote is decreasing significantly and that there is a myriad of reasons as to why children are learning differently, but help and assistance hinges on a diagnosis and obtaining a diagnosis usually involves the waiting out of time and age. I always suspected that my son would have a problem with reading, but I had to actually wait until he was not succeeding at learning to read before I could get the issue diagnosed and therefore addressed.
As parents, we tend to put ourselves through a periodic (sometimes daily, depending on our parental neurosis) self evaluation of gauging, assessing, and determining what we believe and feel is in the best interests of our children. We are entrusted with the task of managing their health, their academics, their social life, and their general well being. Until they are legal adults, we are their voice and their advocate.
Right or wrong, how well our children thrive in life and succeeds in their social and academic areas can become a mirror of judgment as to how well we are doing as parents. When our children do well and flourish, our worries in their regards tend to be few. When the opposite is true, their distress is our anguish. I could only commiserate and offer encouragement when my son proclaimed very matter of factly, “It’s crazy, I am six and a half and I can’t read!”
There are far worse things in life than being dyslexic, this I know. My son is picking books up now, not putting them down. And since his visit to the neurologist, he has learned something far greater than any book could ever teach him: relief and gratitude. Because that is what he has from and for the doctor who looked him in the eye and told him that he is dyslexic, but that it could be dealt with. “I like that man,” my son exclaimed with confidence. “He is going to help me get more smarter!”