I want to start by saying my journey is by far not as serious as many other parents out there. As I sit in Dillon’s speech therapy office I pray for strength for some parents in there…what they have been through seems much worse. Someone close to me told me I should write about our journey. I wish I would have found the keys that have helped to unlock Dillons progress 5 years ago, but it’s never that easy.
Our journey started from age 2. Dillon could only use a handful of words and couldn’t be understood. After seeing First 5 and his doctor Dillon was diagnosed with a minor speech delay. That was it! So minor I couldnt get help from anyone! The school district wanted him in group speech, but I though one on one would be better. I did my research and found SmallTalk. A super great service that includes OT (occupational therapy). After 2 years he was on track. SmallTalk told me he was good to go and we could re-evaluate in a year.
When he was in his last year of preschool he had little focus. Only focusing on what he was interested in. I was not really worried and figured it was just maturity. Myself being a preschool teacher I see this all the time. His weakness was pencil grip and grounding his hand. He wanted to write on paper like he was using an I-Pad. It’s very difficult! With the help from his teachers, it became better over his final yeart of preschool.
He was age appropriate to head to kindergarten, but I knew he was not ready. With his writing skills lacking and not even knowing the alphabet yet, I choose to hold him back and put him in TK. (Transitional Kindergarden)
His first year was a good one. Working on writing was a large focus. I didn’t see any red flags yet.
Moving on to kindergarten was a wakeup call. Lot’s of words to learn and reading. Neither was his strong suit. I was watching all of the other kids in his class excel…and he stayed the same. I stayed in constant contact with his teacher who assured me he would grow out of his slump and catch up. He never did.
First grade…Judegment day. This was the year. The year when all of the pieces started falling into place. This was the year Dillon started coming home from school crying everyday telling me he was stupid…STUPID!! I couldn’t believe it! Seems to be every parents nightmare to hear your child say that.
My first course of action was to check in with his new teacher. She is amazing!! She informed me his reading, math and writing were a grade level behind…HUH?!? I thought how could this be. He seemed to be doing ok, not as bad as a grade level behind. She had an amazing plan. The most amazing retired teacher names Sally was going to tutor him every morning before school. What an amazing gift.
I was now all guns blazing, a mom on a mission to help my boy.
I got a tutor for him. Megan is a friend of the families daughter who just graduated with a degree in education. (How lucky is that!) After the first session with his I asked her what she thought. Her answer was definetly some sort of processing disorder. Holy cow! I was in disbeleif that I never thought of any of this before, having an eduction background myself.
On to finding my next resource, which happened to be one of my past students moms. She is an OT Therapist herself and has been through a journey of her own with her daughter. I thought she would be an excellent resource. after a quick text message I had 2 referrals. One being super duper expensive and the other middle of the road. Even though I did call and check out super duper expensive, I though trying middle of the road first would be a good first option.
This is when we first went to D&D optomentry. Dillon spent over an hour being tested with his eyes. At times crying because he just couldn’t do what they were asking of him. At the end I looked at her and said,”Well?? What do you think?” The most amazing words came out of her mouth…”Youre in the right place. I kNOW we can help him.” I started crying! All we want is for the best for our children, and having someone offer light when your all alone in the dark is the greatest.
We learned many things about Dillon from the tests. He couldn’t scan words on a paper from left to right and the words were jumping around when he tried to focus on them. It’s no wonder the boy could read. We immediately started therapy which consist of weekly hour long car ride for an hours worth of treatment. He does a weekly therapy and then spends time on a light bed. It might be the craziest thing ever, but I swear it has helped. He lays on the bed in the dark wearing head phones listening to music while the bed rotating ion a circular motion. Weird right?!?
The eye doctors recommended speaking to the school about possibly getting an IEP so if he needed extra time or a special writing board there would be no issues. I spoke with the Principal and set up a meeting with the resource teachers at Dillons school. The meeting was a joke! They flat out told me they could help him because he was not two grade levels behind and his last two years of report card showed no signs of problems. Are you kidding me??? Apparently our children have to be left way behind before they can receive any help. That is crazy to me. I voiced that to the principal after…Hope that policy changes soon. Thank God he has the best teacher ever because she was 100% on board for whatever his therapists recommended.
Between his ocular therapy and tutors Dillon finished first grade behind, but on the road to catching up.
Second grade: My Oprah AH HA moment. Same pattern of therapy and tutors and a steady improvement, but still behind. His Ocular therapist checks him quarterly to see where he is at and his improvement. While he was being tested I noticed he couldnt skip and didn’t know his left from his right. That concerned me and made me think why is his bi-lateral system not connected and communicating with each other.
In comes my angel…Anne Marie Sheappard. She is one of the owners of Sheappard spine and sports clinic in Del Mar. She practices a special chiropractics called NUCCA. I was in for a treatment and told her all about Dillon as she has known him since birth. She said,”Oh my. Lets do x rays and see whats going on.” The next week he has his x rays and the results were amazing. He weighed 7 pounds more on his right than his left, his one leg was 3/4 of an inch longer than the other and his body was off 6 degrees. The results made us wonder why he was not in a ton of pain. Treatment was started immediately.
Over the course of a few appointments with Anne Marie I was telling her about his meningitis he had as an infant and a giant light bulb went off. What if all of this he has been struggling with is from his Menangitus?? She agreed being in the brain and all, it was a possibility. She gave me some oil pills (Something like fish oil pills) to start him on. I learned when taking oil pills you have to eat something oily to have it distribute to your body properly, Bacon every morning is rough!
It’s now been about 3 or 4 weeks. The results from everything has been life changing. He got his first double 100% on spelling and math tests. His tutor can’t believe he is the same kid, as well as his ocular therapist. I feel like Clark Grizwald when he finally got all those lights to light up.
My journey will be on going. Constant tutors and constant work, but at least now it’s a little easier for him. I wrote this because I wish I would have found something like this. If this makes one parent say, “Oh my gosh!! That’s my situation!” It would make it all worth wild. I always say what I have been through is a tool to help other parents and kids.