(Giving context at first for new readers)
I told her I had concerns about my girl’s vision. At that point, I didn’t have a name for it. I just knew that she was skipping lines when reading, and not writing as she should, and that no matter how often I showed and told her that words need a space between them, when she wrote, it was all one long garbled word that didn’t stay on the line nor reach the top of the line when needed, letters were left out, and words and numbers were backwards.
She told me to take her to a behavioural optometrist for complete testing and if all was ok, then I had nothing to be worried about. She “only” has ADHD to contend with and with help for it, she’d be “fine.”
She was wrong. An occupational therapist assessing for other oasis’s confirmed it too just a week after I’d discovered what it was thanks to an adult with ADHD on Instagram. Visual processing disorder.
The home programme given for the visual processing disorder by the OT was not sufficient for our needs. We had more content for the low muscle tone and weak core than for it. What she did give was too difficult for my girl. What she did suggest was also too hectic for her. 50 piece puzzles when she can’t even do 15 piece puzzles.
We were on our own except for one website she recommended that sends free worksheets maybe once a month. Mazes, dot to dot activities…Until recently when I came across a free book on Kindle Amazon on helping children with weaknesses in Visual Discrimination and Processing. I ordered it but had to email the author for the printable PDF.
And that email changed my life. Truly. I’ve lamented many times how guilty I feel that I can’t help my children thrive in every direction. How helpless I feel. How there are more resources like OT, Speech Therpaists etc for special needs children (especially resources that are respectful towards those of colour) in a different province -Gauteng.
When I thanked the author, a special educational specialist with a PhD, for the resource-though a bit high grade for my girl- and told her how I’d been struggling, she invited me to a Zoom consultation. For free.
She’s in America. I’m here. As soon as I said, she knew the time that would work for me and her and wanted to do it that every day or the next! Talk about being blown away. People don’t really rush to help me. In fact, I have one who did the opposite just this past week. She recommended herself under a post of mine looking for an IGCSE maths tutor that PARENTS had used. She wanted me to pay for a full package (set of lessons in advance) before meeting her. No parent had recommended her and there were no reviews on her page. She wanted me to not only pay in advance, but refused to even tell me where I’d be expected to drop my child off for the lessons. She did tell me the name of a bus stop near by… Lets just say that my friend (White like this tutor) and I saw something in that reference. Not only do I drive and not use the bus anymore which sadly many of my people still have to do, but I truly have no clue where this bus stop is that she referenced. I won’t even go into why she would reference a bus stop and what it says about her. My friend already did. And for this tutor to tell me that she won’t tell me where I’m PAYING IN ADVANCE to send my child “because of safety reasons” says a lot about what she thinks about people like me. I won’t go there either.
So yes, for this American educational specialist to make time so quickly when she voluntarily offered a service for FREE was a breath of fresh air.
She said that she has a love for Africa. Her father was a doctor of tropical medicine on our continent and she spent part of her childhood on the continent. The things that touched me and got my heart the most after spending an hour going through tips and resources were these two things.
I’ve tried finding a special educator for my children, but couldn’t find one. And also, the reasons I homeschool are the reasons I’d not WANT to send my little ones to a stranger anyway. I’ve sat in on speech therapy some of what the speech therapist said to my girl grated and so chose a different one for my son’s assessment. The OT at least did keep asking if certain things (public swimming) went against our principles or not. So, I tried to find courses online to help me learn how to teach my children myself. As the psychologist said who confirmed my little one’s autism, “So with the children, you’re not only a teacher, you now have to be special needs teacher.. That’s a lot.”
I tried to find courses on teaching children with the special needs mine have but couldn’t. I only saw one on Coursera but it was on teaching autistic children in a classroom setting. I signed up, but never ‘attended.’
This author not only provides resources for children of all ages to strengthen not only those with dyslexia, visual processing etc, but also executive functioning, which all my special children struggle with too. And also, she has COURSES for educators!!!! An answer to a long held prayer and need.
The second thing… She said, “I don’t know why, but you really touched me. So, I’ll give you 5 coupons for 60% off from both my websites. And if you need any more, please let me know. These will last till December…”
“I don’t know why…”
I don’t know why either. Why me? And what do people see in me that I don’t FEEL!? I FEEL like I’m just living, and hanging on by the skin of my teeth. I feel like I’m constantly agreeing with my friend that God must just give me a break. Just one break. I feel like it’s sad that I have to say, “I’m thankful for life, and yes, it could be worse, but it sure could be better!” I only this week started changing diapers. But at the back of my mind, as I feel the numbness and tingling getting worse, is knowledge that one appointment next month will rip that away from me if I indeed need surgery again. It’s not that I won’t be able to care for myself. It’s that again, I’ll be .. NOT the kind of mother I want to be.
I think that’s it. That’s what I feel. I feel like a bad mother. I feel like my love and words should also be mingled with actions. Every time I’ve not been able to wash their bottles, make their beds, heat their (electric) hot water bottles, do their hair, go out for a field trip, teach them, I’ve felt BAD. And preparing for yet another surgery when all the twins have ever known is a mother under the knife, is guilt-inducing.
I can take the arthritis. I can take the IBS. I can take the back pain. I can take the weird inability to keep breathing at night. I can take the gastritis. I can take being a mother of many special children. But when I can’t sleep at night and I can’t sleep during the day and I have to really work hard at feeling positive and acting it when I take that first step out my bedroom and my joints in my body scream, I don’t feel great. Shouldn’t I immediately want to rush to go make their breakfast given how I’ve not been able to? Instead of wishing I could rest?
Do I deserve a whole 60% off even though I’ve prayed for such a gift for months now?
I don’t know. I do know that for a change, “school” (The visual discrimination session as seen above l, actually!) is not boring or dry for my girl. She feels like she’s playing.
I don’t know why she chose me to give a whole 60% off much-needed resources. But maybe by the time I’ve used all the coupons, I’ll have figured out why she did.
Maybe she felt “positive energy” too. She must have, because during our Zoom call she even jumped up and showed me a counting dance she does with one of her little clients who, like my client😊, struggles to count. FUN maths. And boy do my children need fun to mitigate their struggles.
Why me? I don’t know. The struggle could be so much harder. But Providence provided people who see smiles when inside I always feel like my heart is breaking. The lady who sent the message saw me at Dis Chem. (I think it’s what Americans call a drug store?) I bad being there because it meant I wasn’t taking care of the children. Yet I was there to look for something for two of them! She saw smiles and strength. She didn’t see my prayers for a break.
May I continue to pay it forward to others who also pray for a break, just one break. May I be an answer to prayer like this learning specialist has been to me.