Friday, December 23, 2011

Letter to my Child

It was exactly 7 days ago that your dad and I sat at the psychologists office and got back the results of the assessment. The two words dyslexia and ADHD will forever be seared in to my mind and heart.

My first reaction was well, now e have a name and information to move forward. In fact, the psychologist was very clear that research shows that we can deal with these things successfully. He stressed your strenggths in art and and speech, and talked about your challenges in focusing on tasks, and your difficulties in putting sounds to letters.

My second reaction was anger. Wasn't it enough that you were born in to a family with two blind parents who don't drive, can't shuttle you around to this sport or the latest activity, who plan things on such a balancing scale that believe it or not, our schedules are planned to such an extent we know what you will be doing already for the next six months? Isn't enough already? That was the feeling sorry for myself part, a necessary part, but a bump in the road to more constructive thinking.

I have also marveled at how amazing you are to have come this far in your short seven years of life. I am so sorry we did not realize sooner how hard you have actually been trying and been frustrated. Your capacity to memorize whole words without the benefit of understanding phonetics means you have an incredible brain. Like when I asked you how you knew that the letters spelling cricket meant cricket and you said "mom thats easy, there are lots of cricket stores and phones around."

In the last week, I have become obsessed with trying to educate myself on what the terms dyslexia and ADHD mean. I've read "overcoming dyslexia," "you mean I'm not lazy, crazy or stupid," and "delivered from distraction, about ADHD." I've looked on youtube, bought the HBO documentary journey in to dyslexia and been to tons of websites. All these things have given me a greater understanding of what you have gone through and the challenging road ahead. My goal was never to change or fix you, but to figure out how I can best coach you to get the most out of what you have been given in the life department.

According to all those books, you will grow up with different struggles than your sisters, and you will have to work really hard to function and fit in to a society that is built on the belief that smart equals print literate, and that wondering minds means unintellectually talented. It may take you twice as long and twice as hard to read simple things that your sisters and friends can seem to do effortlessly, and people won't always get the fact that fidgety does not mean foolish.

I would not have chosen this path for you, nor can I protect you from what is all ahead, but I am so thrilled that there are other people in the world who see your neurological differences as gifts from which the good and strengths can be harnessed for your betterment. My job as your mom hasn't much changed, except that I am more mindful of you, and that we will probably spend a lot of time together enhancing your current skills and developing new ones. You will still get nagged, cajoled, and although we may need to make some minor modifications you still have to do all the things you are suppose to do with no excuses.

That was my epiphany today, I can read, watch movies, go to websites, and I'll probably continue to do all that, but what really matters is that whatever words they use to describe your brain in terms of diagnostics, we are still the same family we were last week. You are still the middle kid with the sense of humor, who likes to draw, and play computer games, and I'm still the mom who likes to bake and read. These things the doctors say should not define you but are only parameters that we will work around.

I hope as your mom, I can help you see the positive in what you have been given in life. That people with your same struggles grow up to be happy, confident adults. There is a whole list of people like Steve Jobs, the maker of my talking IPhone, the man who invented the Kinkos copy store, and lots of other people who have been termed as learning different. I don't actually care what career path you choose but that you give life your best and that you find something in it that makes you happy. I'm suppose to be helping you gain new experiences,and help you know that home is a safe and nurturing place.

So together, as we have walked through the last seven years, together we will continue with information, humor, and the grace that makes us the family we already are in our hearts and minds. Maybe some day I will read this to you, or you will read it yourself, but I hope I can show in the little and big ways how brave, smart, and gifted you are and how lucky I am to be your mom.

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