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Friday, February 5, 2010

A Difficult thing to swallow

Things that made me happy today.....
- how life always seems to show you the light at the end of the tunnel
- talking to old friends
- laughing with new ones
- A bourbon and coke at the end of the day

Wow, this is the second Friday in a row, where things got so frantic, and all due to Nicolas.  My wonderful sewing day turned into a bit of a nightmare, but ended well, and that is all that counts.    It all started when I began working with him on sight words on Monday.  I decided to concentrate on two words a day, and then add two more if he successfully learns the first two.  I posted index cards around the house to help us play games, found internet sites to help us learn, and then had him write the words, so he would learn how to spell them.  In the four days, he could not even remember the first two words.  Frustrated, worried and maybe a bit aggravated I knew we were not going to learn 10 sight words at this rate.  Then came our Homework night for the 100th day of school.  He had to collect something, count it, and place it in a water bottle, then in a brown bag, and the class had to guess what was in there.  He had to write down three clues.  He decided on Valentines Hearts as his surprise, we counted, and when it came time to think of the clues - well he was clueless.  I helped him as much as I could.  Asked him about the shape, the texture, the size, and the colors.  When he finally thought about a clue, I would edge him on, and then he had to write it out.  One word clues.  I left him alone to write, and five minutes later he would walk into the kitchen and say "Mommy what was that clue?" After two hours of trying to finish this project, I was getting a bit frustrated.  Was he trying to get me to finish his homework?  At this point I had already answered half of the questions.  Not only was he having problems remembering, but writing and sounding out the words.  If he used a word that he had not learned already, I helped him.  However I did not want to do the homework for him, so I made him take very good guesses.  After three hours I gave up.  I could not go on.  Olivia had been ignored, and was starting to get whiney.  The house was being destroyed, while I took care of Nicolas, and dinner needed to be fixed.   

By the time I went to bed, I was so tired.  Exhausted - mentally.  How come his teachers are telling me that everything is ok, when at home he struggles with all of his homework?  He could barely say his sight words, still had problems spelling them, and I don't consider knowing 20 out of 50 words to be a good ratio.  So I sent an email to his teacher.  I told her how frustrated I was.  I told her that I had voiced concerns in the past about him being ADD, or perhaps having a learning disability.  He did have a speech disability and was recently released from the the program in December.  Was the only one who had problems working with him.  Obviously not.  After talking to one of the volunteers, who told me that he was often hesitant in reading class, I knew that something was not right.  In the last few weeks, he was purposely missing his bus in the morning, coming home with headaches, and waking up with stomach aches.  I saw a pattern of disturbing signs, and I did not feel that the teacher's assessment of his skills was correct.  I got the feeling working with him this week that something was wrong.  He has always had problems with doing stimulating mental activities.  He prefers to do other things.  He is often not focused and falling down or bumping into things on a daily basis.  He can never remember things I say or what he does at school each day.  I am convinced that there is a problem.  So I wrote his teacher.  I am not looking to blame anyone here.  All I want is to help Nicolas.  I want him to catch up with the rest of the class, and feel confident and comfortable with his class.  While the class was learning only three words a week, he had no problems.  As a matter of fact, he still remembers those words, however the same is not true of the last four weeks, and the last forty words.    He knows none of them.  I am sorry, but I think I have every reason to be worried.  I don't consider his score to be a good sign, and as his mother, I need to make sure he works harder to catch up.   

So the first thing I did was request that he does get tested for any problems, and possibly add.  I hope I am wrong.  I want to be wrong.  He is a boy.  He is young.  He will catch on, but ........I need to make things right.  I obviously got a lot of peoples attention, because the speech teacher - whom I consider a good friend - called me.  She has done so much for him in the last two years.  I was so blessed to have found this program and get him into it.  She worked on every phoenic and speech problem with him, teaching him a ton of games, rhymes, songs, etc.....He really blossomed with her, and last year we were convinced that he had mastered the english language, and his social anxieties.  However, now I am seeing changes in him, and I think it may have been too early for him to be released.  I think he needs that one-on-one attention to feel good about himself.  Let's face it, no matter how hard I try, I cannot give to him, what she did.  She is a professional, and she has raised three boys, so she knew exactly how to coax him into giving her answers.  I cannot.  Anyhow, she is going to work with Nicolas again next week to see if my assumptions are correct.  It lifted a large weight off my shoulders to know that she will be involved again.  I trust her opinion, and we both know his weak points, so she will know what to do.  Secondly, the principal sent me a nice email offering me a ton of options.  Obviously, the teacher, who forwarded my email on,  may have felt a bit offended in my email, which truly was not my intention at all.  I know how hard she works with her students, and the fact that Nicolas really likes her means the world to me.   I guess I will have to explain myself to her again in the hopes that she understands.  I just felt like I had no choice but to bring to her attention once again the feeling that Nicolas is struggling.  I have been complaining  about the amount of homework he gets.  All I hear from everyone is not to work with him longer then 10 minutes a night.  However, he cannot finish his work in 10 minutes.  30 is more like it.  Noone has ever asked why he needs that long, or what he is struggling with.  Everyone just assumes that it is taking me that long to finish with him.  He is struggling, and nobody listened.  

I feel good about my decision and I know it was the right thing to do.  As a parent, I have to voice my concerns.  If I am wrong, then so be it.  However, I have to do something to help him, even if it means hiring a tutor (no not in Kindergarten).  I just need to know that I have covered all my bases.  Cheers to me!!

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