First thing, I want to say how impressed and thankful I am for the teachers at the virtual school we are enrolled in. They have been so helpful and patient with me. I mean really, anyone who can reply with ease and the “right” words to an email from me with the subject titled “I am freaking out” is impressive. (I cannot remember if those were my exact words, but I definitely said something about me freaking out.)
Now that we have completed three weeks, I am seeing hope.
There are still days we struggle, lessons get behind and it can seem intolerable. Daniel and Joshua both need extra help with reading and Daniel needs a lot of time with word problems. If I take all of the words out and ask him directly, he knows the answer within seconds. It is a challenge since I have such a struggle with word problems as well. I think I may go in search of helps. Maybe Khan Academy or TED Ed has something. I am going to throw this out there and see if any other parents deal with the same struggles with reading/math problems and ask for help/ideas. Please let me know if you have any resources!
I have found different ways to help the boys.
However, both of them differ and I am not sure how to help them retain words. If Daniel looks at a word, he has a problem saying/reading it. If I spell it for him aloud, he knows it immediately. For instance, I show him the word “good” he looks at it, rubs his eyes, begins to get frustrated, and wants to quit. He has refused to read most of the time. If I say, “Daniel what is this word?” while pointing to “good” and then say, “g-o-o-d” he can read it. You can guess how time consuming it is to get through a story. If I sound out each letter he gets it in a matter of seconds. Joshua cannot do that.
He does not get it when I spell words.
It takes a while for him to connect the sounds. He mixes up sounds, and letters. He then, gets so tired, frustrated, and cranky. His teacher has already started him on several reading helps and she plans to have him evaluated for dyslexia. I have already voiced my concerns about that from the beginning. I believe he has some form of dyslexia and I have tried to each him from sites that help. I have him using Reading Eggs as well. I am very happy that his teacher has listened to me from the beginning and is giving me resources/ideas to help him. Last year, the boys were reading decoder books and Daniel would surprise me with reading words like electricity. It seems as though they have lost all of their reading skills from the few months of a break we took.
I feel that I must keep school all year round to help these guys retain their skills.
We still worked on school stuff, but I did not spend as much reading to them, or having them try to read to me while I was packing up the home, preparing for the move, or in the month of July while I was getting us settled. It is clear that I need to stay consistent with them. They have not lost their math skills, or comprehension of science concepts, and seem to understand social studies as well. When it comes to phonics, writing complete sentences, grammar, and such it is hard to maintain. They all struggle with writing. However, Ariel has shown a huge improvement this week. She got a boost of excitement with learning because she tested at a third grade level for reading.
She is excited to be placed into a gifted class.
It has given her this enthusiasm to learn ALL things once again. They are all doing well in their classes, but the boys are not enthusiastic at all. It is taking a lot to get them motivated to do anything. I am working on making it more fun now that I understand how everything flows, and I am not as anal as I was in the first two weeks. I felt like I had to do everything and then, got overwhelmed. It is getting smoother and I am finding our groove. It will still take some time. It has helped that I am able to let go of my “perfectionism” feelings in this area. It still creeps up, but I am able to see it and redirect my thoughts.
There are just so many positives with our school situation.
I cannot bombard my mind with perceived negatives. We are waiting for Daniel’s evaluations to start up it looks as if there will about 10 or more. I am feeling hopeful with these and feel that it will bring about some answers that I was not able to get from past evaluations. It helps tremendously that he is becoming so communicative. On Thursday, after school, we went over to visit my grandma. My dad had called and he had to pop into town to take my sister to the doctor and my niece to her first volley ball game. (She won! Yay!) He asked to come by for a little bit, but he had to head back home because he needed to work the next day. Daniel seemed fine, he was happy from visiting grandma and all the kids were overjoyed to see “Pap Paw.”
I think Daniel ended up being overwhelmed with excited anxiety.
Then, he asked me if he could pour the noodles into the pot for dinner. When it was time, he was running around and I forgot. It triggered him into a meltdown. This was the first time my dad had witnessed a meltdown. Long story short, dad had to leave before Daniel was able to calm down. It took two hours, David, Ariel, and Joshua left to go to the store, while I was with Daniel. Daniel has voiced that he feels that David is angry with him all the time. He has a hard time feeling as if David likes him some times. When he is unable to control himself he feels as if people no longer love him, or they are upset with him. This is one of my traits – I thought that I had learned to do this, but now I think it may be predisposed, possibly.
Anyway, during his meltdown I laid him in his bed and sat next to him.
I am sharing this because I think it is important to share. He was beating his head, and was trying to hurt himself in other ways. This is new behavior. He stopped most of his self-harming behaviors years ago, but then they were directed toward me. I think that since I have set firm boundaries lately he does not know where else to direct the energy. I had a moment where I felt outside of my body and I was watching him. I could literally see in my mind a script running through his as he was pounding on his head.
He would at times hit his head and say, “Stop it!” repeatedly.
I stopped him gently and tried to calm him asking, “Boo, can you tell me what you are thinking right now?” He said, “I don’t know” I continued to help him calm down, and said, “Ok, just try to tell me when you can.” After a few minutes, he was not completely calm, but he was able to say, “I did the wrong thing, I did the wrong thing.” With that, I was able to discover that he was upset because he tried to control himself, but could not and did not know how. He was worried that my dad and David were upset with him and did not love him. He told me that he wants to stop, but does not know how.
I can work with this.
I know now at least a few negative scripts he has and what they can sound like. Things need to change in ways of helping him feel reassured even if he is doing behaviors that can be harmful to him or others. He gets very upset when he makes a mistake, or feels as if he has done something wrong. Such as, on Friday, he went to wash his hands in the kitchen sink and the faucet broke spraying all over him, and the kitchen. He came to me almost in tears because it broke and he thought he was at fault. I explained to him that it was an accident and he had nothing to do with it. I had to explain why it broke, how it broke, and let him know very directly that he did nothing wrong.
All of this is huge progress.
I can find ways for him to redirect his energy, he just did that the other night. I can find positive helps before he tries to do that again. He has been asked to do a new curriculum, schedule, be more social, go to new places, talk on the phone with his teacher, sit through online classes twice a week, and adjust to a new environment all in the past two months. Hot dog! He is doing fabulous!
They all are really.
When I step back, I can see all of the changes and how hard they are trying – it amazes me. It gives me that “umph” to keep going. I want to add here as well that I had no idea how my dad would respond, I know that he would love Daniel no matter what, but I did not know what to expect. I texted him and let him know how Daniel felt. My dad texted back and told me to tell Daniel that he loved him and that he was not upset at all. I was so happy that my dad did that. I had words to validate to Daniel acceptance and reassurance instead of me just saying it.
There is so much that is good and I am squeezing onto those hopeful things.