I want you to know that I am an ordinary Mammy of two kids (whatever ordinary is), where every day I am grateful to be alive and where the school of life is constantly educating me.
One Sunday I was driving home from a football match and had my eldest child Will, his cousin Ben and Roisin my youngest in the car. We usually played games to pass the car journey, one of those was “I SPY”, but with a difference. I spy with my little eye something beginning with “Blue”…… We used a colour rather than a letter because the kids (Roisin) wasn’t great at spelling. Things like not being able to rattle off the alphabet was something that I noticed was really difficult for Roisin but wasn’t a problem for the other two. She was 6 years old.
On days when Roisin knew she would be asked to read in front of the class she would completely fall apart. She would cry doing her homework and ask me why she was so silly and why her best friend had to help her do everything in class.
Roisin was attending a Gaelscoil. At one stage I thought that learning Irish was too difficult for her, but knowing that her older brother had taken to it like a duck to water I was confused that she was finding school so difficult. Something was niggling me. Roisin was suffering, her self -esteem was low, she hated reading and writing but tried her best and that just wasn’t good enough. She felt stupid. She would revert into herself and never put herself forward for anything. I discussed it with her teacher and was told that they didn’t see anything wrong. They thought she was average for her age. Still, I knew something wasn’t right. I asked that she get assessed for specific learning difficulties. I was told it wasn’t necessary. I pushed for it, Roisin was given a half hour of resource teaching. It looked at this stage that there was something not quite right but nobody was prepared to label it at such a young age.
Researching specific learnings difficulties, I learned that most kids aren’t assessed until they are at least 10 years old. I decided that in order for Roisin to feel more comfortable in an educational setting I had to make things easier for her. Myself and Brian decided that the best thing for Roisin at this point was to move her to an English speaking school. If eventually she was diagnosed with a Specific learning difficulty, learning a language would be a struggle for her.
We were so lucky to find a school that was so welcoming to Roisin. Having to leave her old school and friends, go to a new environment and know no-one was hugely distressing for her. However her new school couldn’t have been more in tune with Roisin’s needs. She took to her English speaking school like she had been there all her short life. She made brilliant friends and started to love going to school. I had explained my observations when it came to Roisin’s reading and writing at the beginning in her new school. Roisin was given resource hours where she would have one to one tuition to help her with course work. She also attended an art therapy class every Thursday which she loved. Tracey the teacher was her go to person whenever life got to difficult and she could draw and make things that she couldn’t otherwise explain.
Roisin would come home from school and say that she was so happy but that she still thinks she’s stupid. I don’t know the easiest of stuff, smaller kids in school know more than me. She complained that she couldn’t see the board so off I went and she got her eyes tested and yes she needed glasses. I thought there you go, she’ll be grand now, she just couldn’t see the board or the page. However after a few weeks of having glasses, Roisin came home and said that although the glasses were working, but the words were still in the air. What do you mean Roisin?.. Well when I have a page of words in front of me they all start to float up into the sky…..they all join together and I don’t know what anything says then.
It was the end of the year in her new school, and Roisin wanted to make the teacher a present to say thank you for being so nice to her. She decided to make a make a picture and put all the children’s names in it and put it in a frame with the year written in the corner. Roisin asked me to print out clearly all the kid’s names that were in her class so she could copy them and put them in the picture. When she had finished the picture, she showed it to me and it was then I said that yes Roisin had a Specific Learning Difficulty, most probably Dyslexia. Each of the names in the picture were spelled wrong. Letters were turned the wrong way and spatial awareness on the page was non -existent.
The following year Roisin was assessed and was given a diagnosis of Dyslexia. From there were we were given lots of information. We found out that there are four schools in Ireland that teach children with specific types of learning difficulties. There are three schools in Dublin and one in Cork. As parents we did our homework and we felt that if we could help Roisin in every way possible it would make her life happier. That was our and is our end goal…..Roisin to be happy.
We applied and Roisin was accepted in one of the schools in Dublin. That was ten months ago, how Roisin’s life has changed is a story for another day. If as a parent you would like to contact me, just about being a Mam or Dad of a child with Specific Learning Difficulties please ask away…… Myself and my Husband have gone through all the emotions, tantrums, heart break and I wish I had someone to ask back when….
I have found some of the dyslexia reading and writing aids on Amazon are a brilliant help at the beginning. It confirms to your child that you are listening to them and that together you will help them to learn in the most effective way for them. I’ve attached a link here to some of the products so you can have a look for yourself.