Once upon a time, there lived a little girl. She created stories in her head, and regaled the class with her imagery and passion when relaying the tales. She found writing frustrating, and often wrote words backwards. She couldn’t spell. She fumbled along, until a private high school deemed her intolerably stupid; irretrievably incapable. She was broken by fourteen. She knew she was intelligent, not least because of all the dragons she outwitted, laying in wait along her path. At fifteen she resumed school via distance education. Able to learn in her own time, she excelled. She could look up words, and go over her writing until she felt it was right. She went on to write books, and edit other people’s essays. It made her angry, that people had labelled her and deemed her to be unteachable.
The years passed, and she went on to have a daughter. Determined to do all the right things, she ate well whilst pregnant, and offered her unborn a plethora of baby literature. By the time her daughter drew her first breath, her mother had a library of children’s books waiting for her. She read to her day and night, and her daughter loved the puppets and actions her mother performed to go along with the story. Her mother took her to the Opera House regularly, as well as the Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay to see those books come to life. This child was so active, and so very curious, her mother felt assured that she would have no trouble when she started school.
It became clear early in kindergarten that this child was struggling. She wasn’t “getting” her phonic words, and was struggling to read whilst other children soared through the levels. Prescribed glasses were not to be the answer her mother had hoped. Alone and concerned, her mother sought the help of a private speech therapist. Dyslexia was suggested. Comprehensive testing occurred at the start of Year One, and it was confirmed. Her daughter’s language skills were above 95% of her peers, thus she had advanced language skills for her age. Her auditory memory was also excellent. The brain just had difficulty deciphering the information the eye was receiving. Her daughter’s self-esteem plummeted. She was offered a place on Reading Recovery, but it came to an end after a few weeks. School days were represented by frustration, and a weariness descended on her daughter. She had double the work of other children as she needed to complete set work from the speech pathologist as well. Headaches commonly came upon her. Her mother didn’t make her write out Christmas cards, as it proved too tiring. She would stand near her and whisper what a sign said when they were out together with other kids on outings and excursions.
Year Two began with the teacher remarking that they couldn’t help a dyslexic child. She said this child would always struggle at school, and would have a hard time with all sound words. She said she would get a job of some description later in life, as she had an agreeable personality. When the possibility of home schooling was mentioned, it was dismissed. The mother must keep her at school for the social aspect. The child had another assessment, and the results were marked dyslexia. The report insisted that the school and this centre must work together to support the child. The mother researched on her own, a lonely and frightening responsibility descending on her shoulders. She found an excellent program, her daughter eagerly rising each Saturday morning in anticipation. At her first assessment, the little girl cried, feeling exposed. The tutor was so very compassionate, having had over twenty years experience as a teacher. The mother and tutor had to start back at kindergarten level to teach her the basics. The child was so tired. Triple the workload of other kids. Sometimes she cried from the frustration. Sometimes her mother did as well. She worked so hard. The teacher approached the mother. She said the girl was doing extremely well with her reading and writing. She was beyond a basic level, but indicated that in her report she would mark her on the bottom rung so her third grade teacher would have no expectations of her. “No!” her mother screamed inside her head, “I want everyone to see who she is, without labels. This child was born to soar!” History repeating itself. This mother would be damned if she was going to let that happen…