This time, the story is about a little girl who struggled to read. I hope that somewhere, our story can help another child who struggles with reading and learning.
Ilze was born 4 weeks prematurely. I went into labor at 24 weeks after a urinary tract infection, and was put onto blood pressure lowering drugs to stop the contractions. I ended up dizzy and in bed for the remainder of my pregnancy.
Ilze was born by C-section. The sweetest little baby girl. She never cried much, and breastfeeding was a dream.
Unfortunately I had to go back to work and leave her in the care of others. She started to sit at 7 months, crawled late, walked late, and only talked at 3. She always wanted to be outside and loved animals more than people. She still does.
At the age of two I found her crawled into a cupboard when I went to pick her up from daycare. That was her little spot where she waited for me every day. She had chronic ear infections. She did not socialize well with the other children. Finding her there in a cupboard day after day was where I drew the line. That was it.
We came home. I quit my job, sold the car and got rid of the nanny. Ilze was our reason for starting home education.
By the age of nine reading was still a huge problem. Her concentration was close to zero. I had her evaluated at a reputable reading center and I was told that her reading abilities was that of a 5 year and 8 month old child! I didn't know what to make of that because we weren't even dreaming of reading at that age! That's the thing with standardized testing.
I was starting to question my own abilities to home educate and my reasons for choosing to home educate. Was it maybe my fault that she wasn't reading as she should have been reading by now? Was I to blame?
There were others signs that told me that this might be more than just a reading and concentrating thing. Ilze often didn't follow through with daily tasks. She was forgetful. She was clumsy and had silly little falling accidents at ballet. She couldn't catch a ball. She hated ball games.
Learning was difficult. I am a firm believer that there is nothing wrong with learning stuff a little bit later. But Ilze's later was starting to become a little too late for me.
I was thinking Aspergers. I was thinking Ritalin. We needed professional help. I had to swallow my pride and admit that we had a problem.
I made an appointment with an Educational Psychologist. I mean that is where everybody is taking their children nowadays if they're having learning difficulties. Not? But after speaking to her on the phone I felt even more like a miserable failure. The Psychologist immediately scheduled a two hour long string of standardized tests where I was not allowed to be present. My heart screamed and I wanted to tell her that my child is not an average child and standardized testing was not going to give us any answers. I knew we were about to fail some more tests.
I prayed. Oh boy did I pray. I waited for an answer. Peace. I wanted to have peace about any decision that we were about to take.
The Lord did not give me any peace to take her to the Psychologist but instead put it into my heart to phone Mr. Leendert van Oostrum from the Pestalozzi Trust. He is the "father" of home education in our country and has dealt with all kinds of children and parents and learning abilities and difficulties.
He asked me if she could read, write and do math. I said yes she could, but... everything is slow and there are other problems... I tried not to sound like the paranoid mother
He suggested that we have her eyes tested first, then her hearing, then if we still had any problems we could consult with a speech therapist, and that we should leave the psycho stuff as a last resort. So we started with her eyes. Not just any eye test. He suggested we see an Educational Optometrist. I didn't even know that there were such a thing as an Educational Optometrist! And the best news ever: he was also a homeschooling father! I didn't have to explain the Home Ed bit! What a relief!
Then the Lord was so awesome as to place our new Eye Doctor within walking distance of our home.
How awesome was that!?
As Mr. Wagner was testing her eyes, even I could see that this was where our problem was. Her eyes were not focusing together. They were not working together. He explained to me that all learning takes place through the eyes. Eyesight affects not only how we perceive stuff around us, but also how we learn, how we walk, how we remember and even how we do ballet!
We started with in-house therapy once a week, and lots of eye exercises that we could do at home. For the next couple of weeks we actually didn't do much home schooling but concentrated on her eye exercises. And I must admit there were days when we did absolutely nothing.
Today, after seven therapy sessions he evaluated her and asked me to write this testimony. Ilze's eye tests are all within the normal ranges. In his words: her progress has been phenomenal!
And here's the thing: she doesn't need glasses and she is not going to need medication. Ilze does not have a diagnosis. My little girl is normal. All the Aspergers symptoms have disappeared. She doesn't have silly falling accidents at ballet any more. Clumsiness and forgetfulness is something of the past! Well, we might have to work on obedience now instead of forgetfulness. My little girl has suddenly matured into this beautiful and confident little rose bud. She doesn't struggle anymore and can suddenly DO THINGS!
I now often catch her reading on her own...
I want to encourage any parent who might think that their child is having learning difficulties, or concentration problems, or struggles with clumsiness, or even problems to catch a ball, to please have your child's eyes tested first. This has made such a huge difference in our daughter's life and learning abilities.
It is just phenomenal!
Thank you for taking the time to read and share our story.