How a dyslexia organization helped with our non-dyslexic son
As I hinted earlier, one of the major things I’ve learned on our journey up the the cinder cone is the usefulness of following leads that may not seem all that relevant to your situation. Case in point: we’ve gotten some very helpful support from the local chapter of the International Dyslexia Association (http://www.dyslexia-ca.org/), even though our son doesn’t have dyslexia.
How did we get there in the first place? We had an educational assessment done for Nathan by Big Springs Educational Therapy Center and School in Riverside, CA (http://bigspringscenterandschool.org/) when he was in sixth grade. Nathan was diagnosed with dysgraphia among other learning disabilities, and the staff at Big Springs recommended that we check out the IDA for help (plus, one of the Big Springs staff is a board member in the local IDA chapter.)
(How did we find out about Big Springs? It was recommended by our family counselor. How did we find our family counselor? She was on a list of resources given to us by the sensory integration dysfunction therapist who helped Nathan. And how did we get to her? Through our pediatrician. Whew!)
Obviously, the big focus of the International Dyslexia Association is dyslexia, not dysgraphia. But, during the time Nathan’s school performance was a concern, I attended a few presentations sponsored by the IDA that touched on dysgraphia either directly or in a more general sense of “how to cope with learning disabilities.” The presentations were helpful in the information they provided, and also in conveying the “you are not alone” feeling.
The volunteers in this organization are almost all either parents and/or educators of kids with learning disabilities, so they have experience on the path you are traveling and are there to offer you help. For instance, they know a lot about navigating through the special education system in public schools.
Here’s another thing you may find in your journey: the sobering reality of comorbidity. (and what a cheery-sounding term that is!) What this means is that, in many cases, if your child has been diagnosed with one learning or psychological disorder, there’s a better-than-random chance that he or she may be impacted by one or more other disorders. So, a child with dyslexia may also be dealing with AD/HD, and depression, and/or other things – not 100% of the time, but it would be more likely than in the general population of kids.
This was not welcome news for us – AD/HD seemed quite enough for us to deal with, thank you – but it does result in overlapping expertise. The people involved in IDA also had a lot of experience dealing with AD/HD, because AD/HD and dyslexia can be comorbid. So a lot of what I gained from attending IDA events related to dealing with Nathan’s AD/HD.
For a while, the local chapter of the IDA sponsored a support group that met once a month. I wanted support, so I went, and the leader was amazingly helpful and sympathetic. It wasn’t much of a “group” though: I often was the only attendee. The individual attention was wonderful, but at the same time I would have loved to have had more interaction with other parents. (The leader eventually moved out of the area, and so the “group” ended after I’d attended eight or so meetings.)
Anyway, the moral of the story is: I encourage you to follow leads that seem like they might help you – especially if the alternative is doing nothing and feeling hopeless.