By Guest Blogger Emily Elrod

Dyslexia is the word that changed the way we view our words today. The day we received the official diagnosis that Crawford was dyslexic, I cried all the way home. You know that ugly cry! I just couldn’t understand how that smart boy I knew, had such a hard time reading.

I felt helpless.

From that day forward, I made it my mission to give him everything he needed, to not only be successful, but to feel successful. I also wanted to make sure other parents were aware of our journey.

Looking back, there were signs but I chose to ignore them. You know the saying that boys sometimes develop slower. Or if he is still behind next year, then I’ll do something. Just a few short weeks into Crawford’s first grade year, his teacher saw signs. If you just looked at his academic performance you wouldn’t really know anything was wrong. In fact, his memory was great. He would get a 100 percent on nearly every spelling test. He also loved math and science. In my mind, I could think of a million excuses why he was not preforming up to par in reading.

School is different now. It’s faster paced than when we were in school. He will catch up one day, I kept saying. It’s fine, he is just a math kid. It will come. But it didn’t. And at every conference,  his teacher would voice her concerns.

Thankfully she had a previous student that was diagnosed with dyslexia, so she knew the signs. However, we were in a really large school of 800+ kids and he wasn’t really even on a list for an evaluation.

Other than reading, he excelled. There were other children that struggled at all subjects and took priority over Crawford in regards to being tested for extra intervention. By February of that year, I went into panic mode and started researching schools that could give him more one on one and reading support. As a family, we made a decision to pull him out of a school we loved in order to give him the resources we thought he needed. This was a very hard and emotional decision.

We visited schools and chose one that we thought would be best for him. Crawford was able to receive one on one tutoring throughout the week during school hours and continues to do so. He also has a much smaller class size which really helped him have more one-on-one from his teacher.

This journey however is long from over. There is no Bandaid that you can put on dyslexia. He didn’t just wake up cured because he was going to a new school. There are, and will always be, many ups and downs. Each year has brought new challenges.

One of the most important things we did was have a professional diagnosis that allows him to have the accommodations he needs in school. As a result, one of my my full time jobs is to advocate for him. I wanted to be sure that in the other subjects he took, he was always graded on the subject and not on whether or not he could read the question.

Math became harder, mainly because of word problems. But he should not be penalized for not being able to correctly read the math question, but rather if he could solve the math problem.

Crawford’s attitude about school completely changed. He began to love it. If you would ask him his favorite thing at school, he would say tutoring (well, after PE and lunch, of course!). I believe his tutors, over the years, empowered him. They gave him the tools he needed to succeed.

If you open his book bag today, you will see at least three books at any given time. He loves to read. He works hard at it and it does not come easy to him. He has attended some amazing programs over the summer, including one that he has begged to return to every summer. When most friends were at the pool or camp, he was tutoring. But these tools empower kids!

I can’t help but think of the movie “Field of Dreams,” where they say “If you build it, they will come.” If you provide your children with the tools they need, they will succeed.

It really does take a village to raise a child. A friend and fellow dyslexia advocate once told me when asking her if I was giving Crawford too much assistance, “If he could not see, you would give him glasses. If he could not hear, you would give him hearing aids. You are just giving him the tools he needs!”

I realize that for many, pulling your child out of public school is not an option, but there are a lot of resources out there if that becomes a necessity for you. There are grants for children who leave a public school for a private school because of a learning disability.

My best advice as a parent I can give you is not wait if you suspect your child has a learning difference. Early intervention is key!

If you are looking for local resources to help with dyslexia, Triad Moms on Main has two directories that feature several programs, options, and guidance for dyslexia. You can find these suggestions in the Triad Area Support Group directory as well as in the Resources for Special Needs directory.

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