Friday, October 20, 2017

A letter from a mother: OUR STORY

July 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Testimonials

July 30,2001

Teaching our children is an incredible and sometimes overwhelming call. With my first child I did not always recognize a problem, but in looking back, can I say that the first sign of difficulty was in nursing.

At age two, the pediatrician wanted his speech evaluated for precautionary measures. The earliest label was a speech delay with an unofficial observation of apraxia. The illustration that I was given was that as an adult, we are able to drive a car, which requires many steps that we do without thinking each one through. These include looking in the mirrors, putting your foot on the gas or break, and changing gears if driving a standard transmission. And all of this is done without much thought. But for my child, each step would take his full attention and great effort and so it was as he learned to speak. He had to learn how to open his mouth and make use of the muscles in his face and jaw. This took much effort and concentration on his part.

As he progressed in his speech, it became clear that speech was not the only area that he would have to work harder than others to succeed. With each evaluation came more “labels”, speech delayed, sequential processing, auditory processing.

The first year we saw the most improvement. The speech pathologist came to the house for one hour a week of one-on-one coaching and instruction. The second year, at age 3, he no longer qualified for the Infants and Toddler program and I was advised to put him in a setting of socialization with other children who also were speech delayed. This was the year that convinced me to homeschool my children. The speech pathologist spent about 20 minutes a week with each group of 4 children, or about 5 minutes a week of helping my child learn to speak. The rest of the time, he was expected to learn to speak and behave from other children who could not speak clearly and who often acted out in anger and frustration.

At 4 years, I found a coop preschool for the socialization they insisted he needed and enabled me to take part in his learning. I transported him once a week for speech to what would be his school. The speech pathologist wanted no parts of me observing her teaching and she weekly made it clear in front of my child. I insisted that her one-half hour a week needed reinforced daily in order to be more effective. It was not until February that the principal of the school finally interceded and I no longer had a weekly battle. By May, I was told she would be leaving the state the following school year.

At 5 years, we began homeschooling kindergarten and waited for the next speech pathologist to contact us. Our first contact was late October and she requested that our child be evaluated. We agreed. The results were reviewed just before Christmas break and his first speech session for the year was in February. By the year’s end, we received a call from the Assistant Principal who said, “I see your child is still receiving services, how is he doing?” To which I responded, “I don’t know, you tell me” and proceeded to tell her how often he had been seen this year. She said, we would arrange for another evaluation in the fall.

So at 6 years old, in addition to the labels, my husband was told by the speech pathologist, that has seen my child 4 times, “they do have medication for children like yours”. That was our last evaluation and dealings with the public school system.

There was no question now that our only option was to homeschool. And so we continued with 1st grade. But I too, saw the inability to focus, struggling in learning, frustration and even anger on both of our parts in the learning setting. Yet, I knew the only way he would be accepted into a school setting was with medication and I did not believe in my heart that was the answer.

So I struggled. I began to withdraw. My inadequacies and lack of education became overwhelming and I fell into a severe depression. So many homeschoolers would share success stories, what was I doing wrong?

In the Bible, it tells us that God knows our hearts and needs even before we do. I knew I needed help with my child but also no longer trusted “the professionals” and did not know where to turn.

In June of 1999, I was told that Dr. Cates would be speaking at the CHEN conference. He tests children academically and came highly recommended by a cousin of my husband. I was skeptical, uncomfortable and did not have anyone to go with. But before I was going to let a stranger test my child again, I wanted to hear what he had to say. So I went to the conference, specifically to hear Dr. Cates speak.

What he said made me cry. He spoke of my child and yet had never met him. He understood the frustration that both of us were experiencing. I scheduled testing which did confirm the auditory processing problems. But more severe was a visual-processing problem, which no one had been able to recognize. Dr. Cates prescribed curriculum for us, which meant we were no longer guessing at what would work and what would not work.

He recommended a vision specialist, Dr. Kotlicky in Columbia, who was able to determine my child’s lack of binocular vision. Thus explaining his inability to stay focused visually and confirming that medication in the case of my child, was not going to correct this problem. If anything, the side effects of the medication would have intensified it. We instead began a visual therapy program.

Dr. Cates also invited us to his seminar in Pigeon Forge, TN where we met others, many others struggling with teaching their children. We learned not just how to use the curriculum that he prescribes, but why we are using it, why it is effective and essential for success, especially with our special children.

God knew my heart and my needs before I did. Learning is hard work at our home and we still have frustrating days. But, we rely more and more on God, who has made homeschooling possible for us and led us to Dr. Cates who is teaching us to teach our children in ways that they can be successful and learn.

Two years ago, God also called me to be Sunday school superintendent at our church. This is now the only traditional classroom setting that I am exposed to. It concerns me greatly how many children are labeled and medicated, and how many parents are searching for ways to help their children.

When you struggle and find a solution, you want to jump up and tell the world. I have learned a great deal about my children and myself and with the help of counseling I am climbing out of depression.

I am inviting Dr. Cates to speak at our church with the hope that others, who become frustrated in teaching their children or other people’s children, will find solutions to their frustrations. My hope is to educate people in understanding why children sometimes act as they do, why it can be so hard and help them explore all possibilities and options before medicating their child. Help them to teach the children as God calls us to do.

Dr. Cates will be speaking on processing disorders, Wed., Oct. 17, 7p.m. to 9p.m. , and leading a workshop to demonstrate teaching techniques on Thurs. Oct. 18 from 9a.m. to 3p.m. at Community United Methodist Church in Pasadena Md. For additional information or reservation call Jeanne Maddox at 410-360-2570 or email at saysf@bellatlantic.com (seek and you shall find).

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