Chefs are known to test if their spaghetti is ready by throwing it against a wall. If it sticks, then it is done. I feel like I am the chef throwing the spaghetti on the wall over and over again. Sometimes it will stick and I exhale, but then shortly after it falls back to the ground.
My daughter started out in the world like a tornado. If you would have asked anyone that knew her at two years old, we probably would have all bet that she’d be reading by 4 and maybe chapter books by Kindergarten. When four came and she wasn’t , that was just fine because sometimes kids develop in their own time and she was certainly a child that dictated her own time on everything. By Kindergarten and first grade, she was reading fine maybe a little ahead of the rest, but nothing striking. It wasn’t until 2nd grade, that I started to worry terribly that something wasn’t quite right.
I am a special education teacher and had worked for many years with students with reading disabilities. Her patterns didn’t fit into anything I had ever seen. She could zoom through sight words, never had trouble with learning letters, was reading on grade level, but she sounded strange. She would get complex multisyllabic words correct and then confuse small words like the and a. Her fluency was bouncy and awkward. So I spent hours trying to figure out what was wrong exactly. That’s when I finally made an appointment with a pediatric optometrist. It was a three month wait and I almost backed out of the appointment several times. When he looked at us after her initial evaluation and asked why she was there, I explained the things I noticed. In that moment, I held my breath not knowing if there was anything there or if I was bringing in my perfectly fine child based on a hunch. He looked back to us and said, good job mom and began to demonstrate all her deficiencies with vision.
It turned out that she had four different diagnosis, of which only three I completely understood. She had depth perception of 60 percent, eyes that didn’t team correctly which cause her double vision and were the reason that words were bouncing about the pages for her, and a form of lazy eye. So we began vision therapy online, because there was over a four month waiting list for the in person type. At some point the therapy was increased to daily and now has dropped back to three times a week. I have called several times to the in person therapy, with never a return call.
I saw some immediate results especially with the depth perception which is almost back to where she should be, but the reading remains a struggle. A struggle in that it causes her no joy, in that it can make her irritated and sick to actually read. There are spaghetti moments, where we all exhale as it seems she has finally taken to a series or reads a little extra for pleasure. We all rejoice and then the spaghetti comes tumbling down. Today I sat on the floor of Barnes and Noble scouring the books for the right level and print. I have become an expert at looking at font size and white spacing. I set timers to read, set rewards for reading, help her by running my finger under so she can track. I pray every time that things will just get better.
This week when her 6 month online therapy subscription was up, I let it go for five glorious days. Five days where there wasn’t any talk of doing vision or negotiation or prompting. No rushing it before school or finishing up at night. No tears or arguments. When they called to secure the renewal tonight, I almost wanted to pretend I couldn’t get to the phone in time and buy us just two more days of not worrying about it. We are renewed and start again tomorrow. She finishes it up in January and then on to maintenance, but I think we need to investigate and travel outside the area for in person treatment. Today the spaghetti isn’t sticking, but I hope someday it will and until then I will keep on trying to perfect it till one day it does, because as a mom it is my job to give her the best shot at things that she can have.