The mother would never forget the moment she realized our education system had few resources for dyslexic kids. She was talking to the teacher, her daughter outside, swinging her little legs to and fro. “Did I do okay Mummy? Are you proud of me?” Her mother smiled and replied that she was very proud of her, and that she had done very well. She could see the big picture, as parents are privy to. She could see her daughter being broken and scarred by the labels already stuck onto her skin, like a crude tattoo. If a child with dyslexia isn’t given adequate assistance by the time they reach adolescence, their view of themselves can be tragically aligned to their ability to learn within a system that won’t cater to them.
The mother enlisted the private tutor, and along the way, found another remarkable mentor. Elizabeth was an art teacher within the education department for a very long time. She resigned, and went into private practice, using a variety of modalities. She asked the mother to observe where the daughter’s eyes travelled when asked a question. “To the left,” her mother replied. Elizabeth explained that the little girl began to process information from the upper left of her eyes. “Does she have difficulty copying notes off the board, and does she have messy handwriting?” “Yes,” the mother replied. “She is having trouble coordinating what her eyes are seeing with her body movements. Reading off a board or piece of paper in front of her is bound to fail.” She put a coloured piece of paper-a complex word written on it- to the left of the child’s vision, and the child sighted it. Elizabeth then turned it over and asked the child to say the word. Not only could she say it, but she spelt it backwards and forwards! How can you adequately thank people who are giving a child the gift of self-esteem, dignity and a passion for learning? Elizabeth gave the mother exercises to do with the child at home. Even crawling around the floor would help.
The mother knew what she had to do. She studied the curriculum and designated outcomes for her daughter’s year, and developed a lesson plan, using resources and tutors she had uncovered. A home schooling mum she was blessed to befriend helped her. The education department came out and interviewed both her and her daughter, and she was given the go-ahead. Her registration came through toward the end of last year, and then it became real. She was terrified. Frightened of failing her daughter, of the enormity of the task ahead. She had to do it. Local schools weren’t equipped to accommodate dyslexic students. The competition started early, being judged by their class on their ability to write out their own speeches, then recite them publicly. After a month of home-schooling, her mother can already see the benefits. The child speaks with ease amongst adults and children alike. Her self-esteem has been lifted, and she is eager to learn. She often gets to her workbooks before her mother in the mornings. When she is stuck on a sentence, her mother is right there, to read it out. Able to learn on her terms, and in her own time. She has a full social life, to the extent that a day at home with just her mother is factored in. Rather than witnessing the reducing of a child, her mother is watching her grow.