Boy looking into translucent globe

If I Had a Crystal Ball

Written by Joan Luks, Parent Contributor | December 20, 2010

Mom Joan Luks reflects back on the LD journey she took with her son – the feeling of being on an emotional rollercoaster, the struggles in school, and the lessons they both learned throughout the years in advocacy and self-advocacy.

At 4 my son attended a pre-K program. After the start of the school year there was a parents’ night. The teachers told us about the activities. One mother raised her hand and asked about the reading program. I thought to myself, “reading.” I turned to the mother sitting next to me whose youngest of 3 sons was in the class. I asked her if her son was reading. She laughed and said, “I promise you by the end of first grade they are all reading. My son is here to play and have fun.” I was relieved.

If I had a crystal ball I would have found out that not all children learn to read with ease by the end of first grade. My son struggled. One day he could read simple words from flash cards. The next day it was as if he never learned them. Writing simple sentences was difficult. Those Friday spelling tests caused my stomach to go into knots.

Something was not right. I asked that my son be evaluated. He had a very experienced teacher who said that because my son was one of the youngest in the class we should give him time to mature. However, I needed answers. He underwent a battery of tests including neurological ones. This was scary. All sorts of thoughts went through my head. The diagnosis: my son is dyslexic.

The journey began. From first grade through high school my son received support services and was tutored privately. I learned about his rights to untimed tests, books on tape, etc. I understood the importance of being part of the team and to be a partner with the school. I volunteered in our elementary school’s resource room.
In middle and high school the challenges continued. His teachers were advised of my son’s learning disability but not all understood. My emotions were like a rollercoaster. I wanted him to be more independent; he pulled me in to help. He would get frustrated when penalized for spelling errors. He spells phonetically. He spoke with his teachers and asked if the information he gave on tests was correct. He was told “yes.” He explained that he would probably never learn to spell well but if he understood the subject matter he should not be penalized. My son became his own advocate. He taught his teachers.

My son went off to college. There were more challenges: a year off from school, then a new college. This one was a better fit, smaller and a better understanding of the LD student. Today he is 37, an active, involved man working in the dot.com world. He has a strong circle of friends that go back to his sleep-away camp days (his haven). He’s at ease and confident. I’m proud of his success,

Through this journey we both learned there are many paths to take to ultimately reach a destination.

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