What happened to Genetics?

As many of you know, I am an avid reader and a writer at heart.  I love literature.  If I had a day with no responsibilities and absolute freedom, I would read. 

Unfortunately, my oldest fell far from my tree.  While he loves stories, he doesn’t like to read or write.  He has struggled with both of these since he attended preschool and rhyming was the eighth wonder of his world.  This despite the fact that I read to him for hours every single day of his wee childhood.  This despite my deep, abiding respect for the written word. 

So what happened to genetics?  Why can’t he read as easily or as fluently as I can?  Or his three younger siblings?  Why does punctuation have no meaning to him, and why, oh why, does he break every spelling rule ever created and not notice that his version is unreadable? 

Eldest is now in the 10th grade.  Today we embark on our newest edition of his educational life.  Today he is getting tested for Dyslexia.  While I have felt for a long time that he has Dyslexia, schools do not test for it.  When he attended a private tutoring center, they didn’t test for it either.  In fact, very few facilities do despite the fact that Dyslexia is considered the number one cause for reading disabilities.

To me, it makes sense to identify the problem and treat it specifically, rather than treating all struggling and reluctant readers the same.  Yet I appear to be a minority.  Maybe because my son’s struggles hit so close to home.  Nobody else seems interested in why the written language is elusive to him or why he can’t remember a string of directions or how to get home from the video store.

Instead, teachers seem intent on disciplining him for failing to complete an assignment, writing poorly or forgetting to show up for a band lesson.  Rather than being rewarded for figuring out the math problem in his head, he is docked points for not showing his work.  His brain does things a little differently than the rest of ours.

He is an anomaly.  Intelligent, yet average.  Attentive, yet forgetful.  Articulate, yet functionally illiterate. 

I hope these tests finally give us some answers.  I would like to understand how his brain works, because it obviously does not work like mine.  I would like him to feel, for the first time, as if he is amazing and that he can accomplish anything.  A diagnosis would go a long way in explaining what happened to genetics and how they seemingly missed him. 

I wonder if the Schwan’s man can read…

Just kidding, Eldest is the spittin’ image of my DH. 

Who gave you your love for the written word?  Do your parents read and write, or are you the apple that rolled down the hill and nestled into a storybook land of your own making?


16 responses to “What happened to Genetics?

  1. jmartinlibrarian

    I’m so sad that his teachers do not accommodate his different mode of learning. At my school, every staff member who serves the dyslexic student receives details about his or her learning differences. We can then tweak our assignments accordingly. Cookie cutter work makes me crazy!

    Hope the experience doesn’t rob his love of learning.

    • Jenny,

      We just got back with the prelim report of dyslexia. It is nice to have this piece put into place, but sad that we had to do so outside the very educational system that is put in place to teach our children. It should take about three weeks to get the written (and mandatory for school assistance) report so we can finally start the 504 process to help him in the classroom as needed.

      I was able to observe the testing and it was heartbreaking all over again to listen to him read and struggle to do the things that are so simple for many of his peers. However, it is empowering for him to know that he’s not stupid, but rather that he’s just hardwired a little differently. While it means he has to work an estimated six times harder to complete the same things, it also means that he experiences the world differently and can add things that the rest of us can’t.

  2. I will not bore you with details, but both of my sons have had issues, including mild dyslexia, that the school system has balked at addressing, even with conclusive results from outside testing.

    There are groups that can work as advocates for parents, (around here it is the Learning Disabilities Association) if you find that his issues are under- addressed after you get your results.

    • Layinda,

      It is frustrating when parents are unable to give their kids the help they need. I hope all has worked out for your boys along the way. I have already had long discussions with the school counselor and she’s on the same page as me. Our middle school counselor was not so much at the time when I last approached the school. I think we will be able to work together to create a helpful 504 for Oldest. I’m basically only looking for safegaurds to help him work with his dyslexia, rather than focusing solely on traditional methods that don’t seem to always go in his favor.

      His spelling is enough to make a writer turn to drink : ) I cringe to think of job applications filled out by hand…

  3. Cat, my youngest daughter has autism and as a result has multiple learning disabilities. The school she is in right now is wonderful, but next year is up in the air. I understand your heartache and frustration. 😦

    • TK,

      Autism is not easy. I’m glad you have found a good school for her now and hope that next year (and her upcoming years) are filled with quality teachers. Can you get Jemi to come down and help out? : )

      I used to work with a young man who was autistic and had an amazing school setting. He was such a delight. He owes much of that to his grandparents and educators. I’m sure your daughter will fare just as well if sheer love and faith have anything to do with it.

      Hugs~ cat

  4. I am that apple. While my mother likes to read, she is not the devourer of books that I am, and neither parent liked to write.
    Good luck with your kiddo.

    • Barbara,

      Sometimes it’s nice to be the fallen apple. While all my siblings and my parents love reading, none of them write. Maybe I’m the only one crazy enough to attempt it!

  5. Aaaahhhh!!! This makes my blood boil!!

    I don’t understand teachers who teach curriculum and not kids! It is NOT difficult to make accommodations for kids who do things differently. How can teachers sit back & not help the kids excel?

    All the kids in my class (10 & 11 year olds) understand what learning disabilities are, and why we learn and test differently and that it has nothing to do with IQ or day-to-day intelligence. Why can’t teachers???

    When the principal asked one of the kids the other day why he wasn’t doing what the others were, he answered, “Well, I’m an auditory learner, so it’s best for me if I use Premier Tools (text to speech program on computer) to listen to the research rather than reading it. That way I’ll understand it better.”

    I hope your son’s teachers do what they’re supposed to be doing. As I told my LD son, “School might be tough, but you’ll rock at the real world”. Sadly, sometimes these kids only get to survive not excel.

    • Jemi, that’s a great quote. I use something similar on my kids: If you can survive school, you can survive anything.

      I think our son is the first dyslexic in this guidance counselor’s term. I have no doubt that she will advocate for him. It will be a matter of educating his teachers and garnering their support. It is just frustrating that the process to assist is convoluted.

      I am actually relieved at just getting the paper that will help motivate.

  6. I’m so glad he’ll have someone in his corner! Hopefully once his teachers understand (and have paperwork to force them to do it) they’ll do things properly for him. All the best with it!

  7. You ask the question ‘What happened to genetics?’ You just assume it should go your way. It does not always. My son is sharp but does not like to read (and did not like formal education). My daughter does love to read (and does well in school).

    Unfortunately, too much of public education requires that everyone learn a certain way(and that is not the reality). Personally I thought I could do better in school but I did not.

    I thought I was not that smart. WHat I did not realize it was not my fault. 90 per cent of school is taught by lecture. That was not a good way for me to learn. We act as if every kid should become a scholar.

    Instead find out the area in which your boy excels in and is driven to go in and pursue. The word vocation come from the Latin vocare which means to call. A vocation is your particular calling. Let him find his and help him in the process.

  8. I can sooo relate to this post. I love to read and write. The reading part was definitely imparted by my mother. My son did like to read. He’s on the fence about it now. He doesn’t write much at all. He struggles with writing as a matter of fact. Not the mechanics of it but the planning of it. How to build a paragraph, etc. He has a handful of diagnoses and we have him on an IEP, which helps immensely to tailor things to better meet his needs.

    I will say, he’s getting better about his writing but it will probably always be a struggle. Your son has you advocating for him and that’s a wonderful thing. He will come through it all. I’m sure mine will do okay. After all they have us in their corner. 😉

    • Lisa,

      It amazes me how many people have responded with similar stories for their own children. It tells me that our schools need to be much more aware and accomodating for the “average” student because, let’s face it, the average student has many different learning styles and needs. Education is definitely not a one size fits all…

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