Reading, ADHD, Wallace, and Testing

I’m still trying to wrap my head around a lot that happened last week, but I’ll start with this:

We had Wallace evaluated for dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning issues last week.

Something is going on, but it’s not clearcut. He started second grade this year and for the third year I got the same thing from his teacher — he’s extremely bright, but something is not connecting.

This was the same speech I received in Kindergarten with the qualifier — “But he’s a boy. They are often slower with school skills. With his brain he’ll catch up in no time.”

Then came first grade and baseline tests — “These are not at all reflective of his abilities. There are some attention issues I’m concerned about. I think we should start documenting and collecting data that will assist us in helping him.”

Then by the end of first grade he was not only meeting baselines but exceeding them. I credit his first grade teacher. She was amazing and adapted her teaching to match his learning style. We were hopeful.

He seemed to be reading better over the summer.

Wallace loves books. He’s obsessed with learning all he can about the Titanic. He loves story lines. He gets humor. He’s empathic — he gets many things that other children his age do not. He’s extremely sensitive.

Many nights this summer he fell asleep listening to audiobooks. Matilda by Roald Dahl  was a favorite. He played it on repeat.

Then second grade began and I assumed his scores would reflect the improvement we were seeing at home.

But they were lower than what they were in the spring.

I’m not one to get too worked up about test scores. I understand that kids are different and develop skills at different rates, but Wallace’s learning style has always perplexed me.

At this year’s teacher meeting, his new teacher assured us that it was natural for scores to drop when children returned to school after a summer off.

But we read MORE than ever this summer, and Wallace IS reading better. What the hell is going on?

Again his teacher brought up attention. I was forthcoming and told her that I have attention problems. I didn’t share that info about Gil since he was sitting there and doesn’t like to admit or discuss what he considers shortcomings, but the silence in the room was thick. I could feel the elephant.

Still, it is not clearcut. Wallace talked early, though he’s always had unconventional physical and cognitive leaps. He didn’t say words, but began conversing at a year old. Like really conversing.

I’ll never forget a hot day at the playground when he was barely two years old and commented on my friend’s new haircut.

Then he looked at my friend Maeve with utmost sincerity and asked how things were going since her husband deployed.

She told him that it had been hard and that they all missed Walt but that they were managing and thanked him for asking

He looked at her and said, “I bet that IS really hard.”

You guys, he was able to mirror others with the correct emotion and inflection at a very early age.

Emotionally he’s exceptionally tuned in and aware.

He also has an obsession with his tower crane and loves all things related to building. Recently his teacher sent a note home telling us that he took the screws out of his desk during math time.

Yeah…there’s that.

After we met with his teacher this year, I decided no more hem hawing around waiting to see what happens. I made an appointment with the psychologist my pediatrician recommended.

Gil doesn’t like to discuss any of this.

When I went back to Eve, my therapist, she basically said, “Why do you continue to involve Gil in any of this?”

I didn’t like the question.

I involve him because he’s their father and I want him to be involved.

Eve argued that Gil doesn’t handle any of it well and that perhaps I needed to release him from the decision-making. Take the reins. It would make my job easier.  Plus, my educational background makes me the better person for navigating this stuff.

I can handle attention issues. I GET those. I’m familiar with depression and anxiety and bipolar. I understand the world of therapist’s offices, psychiatric hospitals and rehab centers.

The part I’m struggling with is the language gap and not reading. I don’t get it. I didn’t have trouble learning to read. Or did I? I didn’t read especially early and was always compared to my more verbally astute cousin who read well by age three, but I definitely have executive function issues and have always processed differently.

Still, words make sense to me in a way they never have for either of my children. I come from a long line of orators, writers, lawyers, educators. People who live and breathe words. We communicate in words. Books abound at family gatherings. We tell stories. It’s what I know. At times it seems that it’s the only thing I know.

I have suspected that Gil has dyslexia for a very long time.

When Wallace’s reading scores were sent home — in a sealed envelope with more than one paper inside, I was prepared for information I didn’t want to confront. However when I learned that not only were his scores well below grade level, but that he was being referred to a special Early Intervention Program offered by our state, I knew I had to push for testing.

I was NOT prepared for Gil’s outrage. He flipped out. He was angry and it seemed as if he was directing his frustration at the very person who needed our love and support the most — WALLACE.

Gil thinks Wallace lacks motivation and this entire situation is one big trigger for Gil.

There’s way more.

I’m going to elaborate in another post — as in the big WHY I had a bit of an emotional release during the Elton John Concert.

I’m writing to hopefully relieve some of the heaviness I feel right now. The situation with Wallace is honestly just part of it.

I think what’s really going on is that I have to be ON in order to navigate all of this — the appointments, the teachers — and I don’t feel on at all. And while it’s all fine and good that Eve thinks I should release Gil from this, that in itself irritates me. I need someone to help me and keep me grounded and I don’t have anyone. It feels hard and lonely.

I know it could be worse and I know we’ll get through it. It just feels like a lot at the moment.

I’ll continue in another post. I have all this heaviness and I’m trying to figure some of it out and writing always helps me with that.

6 thoughts on “Reading, ADHD, Wallace, and Testing

  1. Pingback: Reading, ADHD, Wallace, and Testing Part 2 | Grief Happens

  2. I know a friend who had a similar issue with her husband–and both are educators–but her husband was afraid of the stigma of special needs. Once she was completely honest about the situation as a whole–how it relates to her son, their family, societal standards– it seemed to help him understand more and feel better about the situation with their son,

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  3. It’s very hard navigating the care of a special needs child. Challenging. Difficult when our partners don’t fully understand or support what we are doing. But, rather than not involve Gil, I’d recommend setting up a meeting with the psychologist, you, and Gil once s/he completes Wallace’s assessment. I wish you the best. My son is now 16. He first saw a child psychologist at four for behavioral issues. He’s struggled with migraines since he was a toddler. Early intervention helps, but as you know, often there is no easy, quick, 100% fix.

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    • Thanks, Kitt. That’s the plan for now. I’ve been going to the teacher meetings by myself, and honestly, doing so helps me stay more focused, but Gil has agreed to go with me to get the results of W’s assessment. I definitely think he needs to be involved. I feel better this week. I had a great meeting with W’s teacher and I gave her a lot of info. She was receptive and is already working with him in a different way, so I’m hopeful this will be a good year and that he’ll make some strides as we’re figuring this all out. As you said, there’s not quick fix.

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