Updated: Sep 13, 2021
I was a parent of a young child just starting Reception Class in Primary School, nearly 25 years ago, in Birmingham. He was my first child and this was our first experience of school, and unfortunately, it was not a good one.
I was aware of my son's difficulties, by observing how he blended in with other children, how he responded to instructions from the teacher, and how he progressed with his reading and writing. I also observed his attention skills were poor and his fine motor skills were poor, e.g. he couldn't hold a pencil or write his own name. As I talked with parents and made my own observations I became more aware of the gap that was present and growing. I often spoke to the teacher about my concerns, but mostly felt my concerns were not taken seriously and I wasn't being heard.
They made me feeI that I was being too fussy and over-anxious. However, the more I asked, the more I felt pushed back, and ignored by the school. I felt I had to fight to be heard, but the more I spoke up for him, the more they seemed to close down. I had a battle on my hands.
Going back in time, when my son was about 3 years old, I had a referral through the Health Visitor for speech therapy, because of my son's late development of speech. Speech Therapy only lasted 6 weeks, however it was still obvious there were other concerns - he did not respond well to instructions, nor was he compliant. He did not seem to develop well all round - he seemed slower than his peers in most areas. This eventually lead to another referral, to specialists at a Child Development Centre.
Thankfully, they heard and understood! They saw him and myself several times to make assessments. Eventually, when my son reached about 6 years old, they diagnosed Dyspraxia and later on Asperger's Syndrome.
The battles with the school begun. The Teachers and School were not listening. I turned for help in other directions. I joined a support group for children with Dyspraxia (who mostly had other difficulties too, including Dyslexia and Aspergers or ADHD). This group of parents were the most supportive group I ever came across and they REALLY understood my daily struggles and dealings with education - we were like a life line or even a life support machine to each other. We laughed together and cried together. We helped each other in every way we could.
By the time my son was 8 plus, and still in his first school, he was still really struggling with
reading and writing. The school had by then, put in some input in form of small group work,
but it was minimal and not enough for his needs - by then the gap had widened.
Eventually, I went to a private educational psychologist who diagnosed Dyslexia. My son had a continuum of difficulties, although not all in the severe range, but he had an overlap of Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and Asperger's syndrome. Eventually, we moved house and moved school, and the new school was more understanding and supportive of his needs, but he was still behind... my concern for my son was that he received the right level of special needs input at school. I was also concerned that he would not manage as he continued to mainstream education... unfortunately, this turned out to be right. But I'll explain more about this in my next blog...
Let me advise you and encourage you: Firstly, if you have any experiences like the ones I have shared with your child or the school system, then join a support group and get as much information and support as you can, outside of education as well as inside.
Secondly, we offer private tuition for dyslexic students and online tuition, or your child may benefit from multisensory phonic tuition, that covers all of the basic phonics and spellings, in a fun and interactive way.
This is a long journey and to get through this, you will need some level of support as you journey with your child through their education and life.
You can contact me if you are interested in any of our services on the form provided
on this site.