Today, I have the privilege of welcoming Staci Stallings to LBOC again. Just recently, I saw an interview she gave about her upcoming book, entitled Coming Undone. In the interview she mentioned writing a new story inspired by her experiences dealing with her son's dyslexia. She has graciously accepted the invitation to tell us a little more about this experience from a mother's point of view. I love her story, because it is about a mom who, though needing to address her son's challenges, still sees him in terms of his gifts. He is God's creation and made especially for the specific task God has laid out for him. All of these experiences are the training to do this task.
I will be posting this story in three parts, over the next few Fridays. Part one is the first discovery.
The Gifts We Have...
Every child comes prewired with certain gifts and challenges. For some, personality is a gift; for others it is a challenge. For some sports, academics, or music is a gift. For others, one or more of these is a challenge.
And so it was with my youngest son. Growing up he had a vivacious, people-attracting personality. He was just fun to be around (and I'm not saying that because I'm his mom). He was drawing his own fully-thought-out stories by the time he was four. He would bring them to me to write the words, and look out if I didn't get the dictation right. For days afterward, he would stop when I got to something I hadn't written the exact way he had said it, and tell me what it should have been.
He was also, to my thinking, a good reader. We would lie in bed at night, and he would "read" to me. At least I thought he was reading, but then again, back then I thought a lot of things that didn't turn out to be reality.
The first indication we had that something was amiss was during his first kindergarten review. The teacher said that he couldn't do his m's. He would make them w's about half the time, and he couldn't remember what sound they made. Me, the ever-finder-or-maker-of-a-solution went home and started working with him on the letter m. To my surprise, it took over a week for him to finally "get" m. Now I thought that was strange at the time, but as a mom with experience, I chalked it up to one of those quirks all kids have.
By first grade, however, my son's school experience turned decidedly darker and much more frightening. Spelling was the loudest rumble of the coming storm. When he would practice spelling, he would copy one letter at a time no matter how many times I tried to show him to copy the "whole thing." Studying spelling became a nightly ordeal. Even simple words seemed beyond his comprehension, and I couldn't understand that at all. Meltdowns were frequent as were times of outright refusal to even try. My normally happy-go-lucky kid devolved into anger and tears more than once, and I was at a loss for what else to try.
He was great with words verbally. He was telling me that spiders were "hideous" and the meal was "delicious," yet spelling "girl" proved an almost insurmountable obstacle. We studied "girl" with four blocks--g i r and l--literally for 20 minutes straight. It was a mess. There was no rhyme or reason to what letter he put where. When he finally was getting more hits than misses, we moved on to bird, but when we went back to girl in 10 minutes, it was like he had never seen the word!
I remember getting into bed that night and saying to my husband, "Something's wrong." But no one could tell us what that something was.
We struggled. He struggled. I struggled. The teacher was sympathetic. She said that a lot of kids have trouble spelling and reading in the first grade, and his personality and how he dealt with other kids was great, so not to worry. But I was worried--especially when just before Christmas he started having little black-out spells in class. (Check worried. I was near panic. By that point, God and only God was keeping me together.) The doctors wanted to do tests on him, but when we got to the hospital, my son refused to do the testing. So we left, praying for a different answer.
From that time forward about six months, we tried everything. Spelling would improve and then fall off a cliff again. I realized around that time just how much trouble he was having reading. We got Hooked on Phonics starting at Kinder year. He couldn't do it. Sometimes he would say "cat" for "cat," but he might also say "can't" or vice versa. Each new lesson was like a battleground.
I'm apparently rather slow because it took four months of reviewing and reviewing and reviewing the lessons for me to realize that he still wasn't reading anything. He was literally memorizing every single page! That's why I had thought he could "read" before--he was memorizing everything!
The day I "figured out" it was dyslexia, we were trying to read forward to a new lesson in Hooked on Phonics. I had heard of dyslexic children "moving" while they read, but I had never seen it until that moment. He was up. He was down. He'd lean on me. He'd lay on the floor. He'd sit on the chair... It was then that I finally faced the fact. This had to be dyslexia. Nothing else made sense.
So I went online praying for some guidance as to what to do next. That's when I firmly believe God stepped in with our first answer. It was a program from the website Bright Solutions for Dyslexia by Susan Barton. The first door opened for us with her video about the symptoms of dyslexia. It was 3 hours and 19 minutes long. I thought, "I'll watch for awhile." Yeah, 3 hours and 19 minutes later, I was still sitting there, taking notes as fast as I could write, knowing that finally we had found some answers!
... Stay tuned, next week as Staci describes finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:
Spirit Light Moments -- One moment with God each day
Facebook Author Page at:
Search Staci's Books:
Spirit Light Books--The Blog
Follow Staci on Twitter @StaciStallings
Come on over for a visit…
You’ll feel better for the experience!