My daughter reads and writes backwards. Very, very well. In fact, if you hold up something of hers to a mirror, it's perfect. On the upside, she's in good company with the likes of Da Vinci and Einstein.
On the downside, uh, um, it's backwards.
It's been interesting explaining that the light switch says "on" rather than "no" and other funny things.
Everyone said to us, oh all kids reverse letters, it's no big deal. Don't worry. Relax. She'll grow out of it. Except, she's not reversing letters. She's doing it all perfectly backwards, consistently.
So, my mommy gut kept tickling me, regardless of all the reassurances. Still, I told myself, she's a leftie, to her, this is natural. She's imitating how we all read and write across our bodies.
Her mirror writing skill developed, and solidified. I talked to lefties, and ordered "Raising Your Leftie in a Rightie World" or some such title (a couple of weeks ago...still haven't recieved it). I tried making sure I sat across from her during writing lessons. I'd try to intervene, carefully demonstrating the "right" way while trying to not make her feel as if she was doing it wrong.
Patience, though, is a sensitive perfectionist who is highly resistant to being taught.
There is not enough wool in the world to cover her intelligent eyes.
She got it. Got that she was doing it all backwards. If she hadn't figured it out, and hadn't gotten it from me, she certainly got it from other people who gasped and exclaimed, "Oh WOW! She writes perfectly BACKWARDS!"
I'd feel concerned again. I'd express my concern. And once again, be reassured that nobody cares until third grade.
When my daughter began refusing to write or work on reading at all, and her motivated curiosity deteriorated into staunch avoidance and refusal partnered with a huge frustration, I said, enough, we have a problem.
I called a licensed professional who interviewed us and said, tentatively, that it sounded like it potentially could be classic strephosymbolia.
That means: dyslexia.
She arranged for about four tests, which we went to yesterday. It took about an hour and a half.
At the end, the doctor told us she would have the results in about a week. She gave us some information and a few homework assignments. We're to have Patience writing her name frontwards by the next appointment.
When we went to the appointment, we had a few potential reasons for the backwards writing. They were:
(a) we stink at teaching our kids to read and write
(b) we're doing it wrong
(c) we lack teaching skills
(d) Patience is a leftie
(e) Patience is dyslexic
(f) we stink at teaching
(g) we're doing it wrong
(h) architecture and writing degrees do not actually come in handy for teaching reading and writing to young children
We left the office to take Patience to get her promised ice cream cone (read: bribe). As we walked to the car, Patience said, "That was not fun AT ALL," as if we had truly betrayed her. We all climbed in the car and sat silently.
If there was a photo of us sitting there, with talking balloons over our heads, they would read:
My husband: I think we just signed up for puppy kindergarten.
Me: I think we're about to get told options a, b, c, f, g and h are correct and I have a feeling the "therapy" is going to be teaching us how to teach better.
Patience: Parents have a stupid idea of "games and activities." There was not a single moonwalk there. I'm going to ask for cheese sticks too. These nutcakes owe me.
The discussion began with my husband saying, "Why do I feel like we just got diagnosed as the problem?"
To which I replied, "Because I think we just did."
There is no feeling in the world like being told, "Oh yeah, with regard to this aspect of parenting? You guys are falling down on the job."
Which is NOT AT ALL what the doctor said.
It is what we inferred with our guilty parent hearts.
Our goal with the testing is to discover why, and if that means "us" then so be it. We will be glad to know. Our goal with the tutoring is to discover how, and if that means "we change" then so be it. We will be glad to.
Already, I've done activities 1 and 2 of 3 today. Already, Patience is easily writing her name frontwards.
Apparently, as probably most parents know, you have to give them a starting point on the correct edge of the page. Further, apparently, writing it and having them trace it with a marker is key. Additionally---and here's where I feel really stupid---it's really important to do this with lefties.
I think we know who is disabled here. LOL
Yeah, I have that mixed emotion building into baggage thing going on here. Oh yeah.
By Julie Pippert
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