Reading for Lily has always been a struggle. We first noticed something wasn't right in kindergarten. She would work on her site words every night and she would still be unable to remember them. She was doing wonderful in math related task, but anything with letters was an uphill battle. In first grade she had a teacher that was not the right match. That lady was pregnant with her first baby after years of trying and she really just wasn't on her A game. That was the same year that I lost our baby and I wasn't on my A game. I did ask this teacher for more help for Lily, but she calmly blew me off. And I was too depressed to fight her. Second grade rolls around. We had the most wonderful teacher. She and I had our first parent teacher conference and I came prepared. I have a friend whose husband is a special ed teacher and he said I have the right to demand an evaluation for Lily. I was ready to fight. She was testing at first grade three months level and that was after the first quarter of second grade. She was a solid year behind already and I didn't want to see that gap get any wider. The teacher said she would talk to the principle. I emailed the principle and begged. "If it was your daughter, would sightly behind be ok with you?" They all agreed with me.
She got her evaluation. And she needed some help. I can't tell you the exact wording of what they found, but it comes down to this. She doesn't put things together in her mind in exactly the same way other children do. She has good comprehension but if you give her a nonsense word she could not sound it out.
Third grade was another wonderful teacher. Lily moved up from low math to regular math. The actual math was not the issue, it was the reading that went along with the math that was holding her back. I thought we were making some progress but her testing scores where still showing her about one year behind. Meanwhile she was getting old enough to notice that she wasn't reading as well as her peers. One day we where doing her homework and she said something to be about not being the smartest knife in the drawer. She said it like she thought I was going to agree! Like it was just a fact. I told her that she was way smarter than most people her age. I pointed out to her that her talents for acting, music, and art where things that her peers would never catch up to her on. I told her that she was like a sling shot - we were pulling back and pulling back with all the things she was learning and soon her brain would understand and let go and she would catch right up to her classmates. Maybe even pass some of them. I've retold her this several times through out this journey because it gives her strength to keep fighting.
Fourth grade rolls out and we lucked out with a teacher that really understands Lily. She knows when the tears are real frustration and when they are drama. Lily complained to me once that she had to work harder than everybody else and I told her that sometimes life was like that and if you have to work harder it may not be fair but you better stop whining and start working cause you got no time to spare. Basically - life is sometimes not fair so just keep trucking. I just had her mid year parent conference. She is over 7th grade level for math and she is at her grade level for reading!! The sling shot let go. Thank God. She has moved up to the regular reading group and they are talking about her moving to high math since her reading can support it now. I have been building her up for years but to actually have it come true is a huge relief to me. She is finally reading for pleasure and every time she finishes a book I take her right out to the book store and buy her another one. This kid is starting to soar.
Side note - we never told Lily that she had an official learning disability. I will tell her. Especially once she is really comfortable with her progress. I'm not sure how I am going to word it, but I will make her understand that we all need help with some things. I was diagnosed as learning disabled in fourth grade and I knew at that time I was not smart and I would never be smart. It took me years to recover that confidence, I think I was 25 before I really thought I was smart again. I want her to understand that belief is a huge part of it and she has the talent to be a successful student. We plan to let her keep outgrowing her special needs, but to always keep at least a little bit help on her list in case she needs her SAT to not be timed. It's much easier to keep those options open than to reopen the doors if you close them all the way.