Topsy-Turvy

As a professional hypochondriac, I pride myself on being able to properly diagnose and self-treat a multitude of illnesses. Not only do I diagnose my own disorders, but those of my family and friends as well. I may not tell you openly, but I’m probably keeping a mental file on you. I can’t treat you without your permission, but I’m fully aware of your Diaphoresis. Don’t be ashamed. None of us are perfect.

Considering my level of expertise, it bothers me when something slips through the cracks. I’ve known for a while now that Little Linebacker has had a problem, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. He has always struggled with reading. It’s not abnormal for boys to have a harder time picking up reading than girls, but my spidey senses told me that he was having a much harder time than he let on. I mentioned it to my mom and being the awesome mom that she is, she shipped an entire Hooked on Phonics set down for us to use. Somehow though, it seems he needed more.

A man will often refuse to admit that something is wrong with his own child, so I knew bringing my concerns up to my husband were futile. Was there a learning disability to blame here? Little Linebacker seemed to be doing perfectly well in math. In fact, he seemed to excel in it. He could understand this new Common Core nonsense a whole lot better than I could, and was even able to explain the concept to me so that I could “help” him with his homework. If math came so easily to him, why not reading?

I’d assumed that we were babying him with books, allowing him to read too far below what he was capable of and therefore pressing the pause button on his development. I pushed him to check books out of the library on a second grade level, and sat with him as he read aloud each day. I noticed something as he read though: he needed his finger on each word in order to keep his place. Otherwise, he would skip words, or even whole sentences. I had to read along with him to ensure that he was reading each word, and found that he was often guessing instead of sounding things out. When he did take the time to sound words out, he would often transpose letters. Salt would become slat, golden was gloden. They were just little slips, but very consistent little slips. My inner hypochondriac was itching for a diagnosis, but I still needed more information. Regardless of what you might think, I don’t ever make a diagnosis haphazardly.

The additional information I needed came at a parent teacher conference. Little Linebacker’s teacher loves him, as his teachers always have. He’s really a sweet child and has a way of wrapping you around his little finger. She mentioned his strengths in math and science, and her concerns with his reading. Then she brought me a spelling test that he received almost a perfect score on. His handwriting was the neatest I had ever seen, which is really saying something because Little Linebacker’s handwriting is not often legible. The strange thing about the spelling test is that the letters were written backwards, and the words from right to left. If I turned the paper over and shined a light through it, I would have been able to read it perfectly. “Huh,” I said after staring open-mouthed at the paper for a full two minutes.

The teacher mentioned that this wasn’t the only assignment he had ever turned written this way. She also noted that whenever he resorted to writing backwards, his handwriting was much neater and stayed within the lines on the paper. Feeling overwhelmed and relieved all at once, I thanked the teacher for taking the time to meet with me. She shared the phone number for her pediatrician in case I was interested in setting up some sort of screening for Little Linebacker, which I absolutely will. I think home remedies might be insufficient this time around.

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