Skip to main content

Homeschooling, learning disabilities, and trying something new

When I started the homeschooling journey, several years ago, I never thought I  would have to learn to become a special ed. teacher.  But, these days, that is exactly where I am finding myself. 

At the end of the summer, we had our oldest son go through a series of educational tests.  One day a week, for about a month, we headed to the educational psychologist's office for two hours for J's testing. And a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I sat down with the educational psychologist to hear the results.

As we sat down that morning, I learned some very important things.  First, J is smart.  I knew that already and the test results confirmed that he IS smart.  When it came it auditory learning, he was OFF THE CHARTS.  Again, I knew this about him.  Then we came to his writing scores.  The first set of tests that showed results in the Learning Disability range.  Again, this did not surprise me.  But, it was good to hear it confirmed.  And good to give it a name.  He has dysgraphia.  I had not even heard that word until that day.  Quite simply, he cannot write.  When other children his age, can, without even thinking, form letters to make a word, and write words to form sentences, he has to concentrate on EVERY SINGLE pencil stroke. He has to concentrate so much on the actual forming of a letter, that the rest of the content: the spelling of a word, the space between words, the use of proper punctuation, is lost and forgotten.  This is my amazing son that can memorize and recite a Psalm with little effort, but spells his own name incorrectly if he writes it too quickly.

The testing did show two other areas of concern, which really just complicate his dysgraphia and other school work more.

When we walked out of that meeting that day, I was overwhelmed with love of my son.  My son, who works so hard just to stay focused and to do the work he does, no matter how imperfect I,or others may think it is.  I gained a new appreciation of the areas he is gifted in and I became determined to learn what I can, to not only help him overcome his learning issues, but to help my other two sons become stronger in areas that they are weak in as well.

And that is exactly what I have been doing over the last few weeks.  I am researching occupational and vision therapists.  I am "Pinning" apps for the iPad that will help with dysgraphia and vision issues.  I am reading about what exercises we can do at home to get the left brain and right brain to communicate the way they should.  I am making lists of exercises to strengthen fine and gross motor skills.  I have purchased games to help with visual perception and executive function processing.

We have been testing all of this out too.  The boys enjoy rolling on my exercise ball, for the first time ever since they were never allowed to play with it before. They are having fun squeezing squishy balls in their hands and proudly proclaim that their fine motor skills are getting stronger.  They work hard to concentrate on all of the figure 8 exercises.

There are days now that I think our homeschool looks more like some sort of therapy play house than a place where learning takes place.  And as hard as it is for this overachiever to let go of book lists and performance, I am OK with how things are.  My main desire right now is to help my oldest, and my middle son to overcome the difficulties they have with learning.  And if that means putting some of our books aside for a while and play a game, so be it.  If it means that I stop visiting homeschooling blogs because I compare, and feel inadequate afterwards, than so be it.

I am really not sure if all of this will work or not.  I am not looking for a miracle cure.  All of these efforts are really driven out of love.  Just like any other mother, I want the best for my children.  I desperately love them and I can see just how hard learning can be for them.  And, if there is a way, I can lessen the struggle for them,  not by expecting less of them, but by providing tools that assist them so that they can work to their true capabilities, I am willing to do what I can.

So, as the days and months pass, I may write here and there about this journey of me becoming a more adept, special ed. teacher (hopefully) and the boys improving too!


  1. You're an awesome mom and J is blessed to have you :) It must be so overwhelming to have to dive into this unknown territory but you are doing it and I think that is so great.

  2. you are SUCH a great mom. It's inspiring!

  3. Katie, what a calling you have! How blessed are your boys to have parents who will do whatever is possible to make learning easier for them. Hugs!

  4. I agree with the others... you are a fantastic mom! Thanks for sharing all this and know that you are in our prayers!

  5. Thank you for this post, Katie. It's such a real part of homeschooling, but not often spoken of so frankly. Your boys are so blessed that you are their teacher and that you love them so dearly!

  6. Fantastic! May God bless your efforts!

  7. Katie, you are an amazing mom - only LOVE can teach and teach so well children who need special attention, special help and special understanding - you are that person for J!! You inspire me to be more patient with my own children. Keep going - it's just like running - painful, difficult at times, but worth every ounce of sacrifice we put into it!!

  8. Oh my gosh, I'm right there with you. My son has already completed 36 weeks of Vision Therapy and it helped him so much. We were blessed that we found a vision therapist who was also an occupational therapist so she was great at working on vision and reflex integration. We also just finished the grueling weeks and weeks of evaluation with an Educational Psychologist. We ended up with a Dyslexia diagnosis which confirmed everything I'd been seeing. It's hard to see your kid struggle. So. darn. HARD. But, now we know exactly how to help him so we've set him up with an Orton-Gillingham tutor and it's back to the OT, this time for handwriting. It's extra hard to reach out to outside professionals as a homeschooler because you feel so scrutinized. I've been blessed though, that all of the "Special Ed" professionals I've encountered in our quest for answers have been HUGE supporters of homeschooling because most districts can't provide the support kids with these sorts of issues need. I know that feeling you mentioned walking out of the office after getting your results. It's EXACTLY how I felt the day we got our Dyslexia diagnosis. So crushed with love for my little man who works harder than most adults ever will. Big hugs and prayers from one special needs homeschool mom to another. Your son has the best teacher in the world for him.

  9. Playing with Knex helped a dysgraphic child I know. It was actually rather terrifying what a difference a standard toy made in his handwriting in just a few months.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Gift (Our NFP story) Part 2

(You can read  Part 1 here

     So, by the time Andrew was 18 months old, we knew God was saying no to having more children at the time.  And, as mentioned before, He provided so much peace about it, that we knew we had discerned correctly.  Yet, even with that peace, I had to mourn the fact the we might not ever have any more children.  Yes, we were still open to life, of course, but from the time after Andrew’s birth, until today, we practiced NFP faithfully to avoid pregnancy.  And it took time to accept that we might not have any more children.  There were times when I would hold a friend’s new born baby and then go home and cry because I knew I might not ever know the joy of holding my own baby again.  We live in a community where life is celebrated and families are large.  Usually more than one friend is pregnant at a time.  In those early days, each pregnancy announcement was met with great joy for the friend, but often left me with an empty feeling.  I understood, in many way…

My verse for the year

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.   Isaiah 6:48

There are boxes being unpacked in our home.  Boxes packed and meant to be unpacked in a different home, our new home, in a matter of two weeks.  

About two weeks before Christmas things changed.  Situations changed.  And what we were convinced was God's will just months before, seemed so unlike it now.  Things beyond our control happened and suddenly we were praying and we felt that the best and only solution was to walk away from this new house.  And at the end of  a week of uncertainty, anxiety and tension, once the decision was made to walk away from the house, there was a great deal of peace.   But, as the dust settles from the decision, even though we know it is the best for everyone involved, there is still sadness, still this sense of loss.  As we have prayed again and again, we know each of all of the steps we have made in this whole house journey …

On Waiting

This past weekend we went to a book party for a priest friend who had his second book Living the Beatitudes:A Journey to Life in Christ published last fall.  The party was hosted by another Catholic author.  And, after the cake was cut and people were sitting quietly, the host of the party began to speak.  He began to talk about how great this book is and how insightful so much of it is.  Then he began to share quotes from it.  And I felt as if he chose two of them for me:

"Waiting is the training ground of trust."

"Beauty is the crescendo of waiting"
Now, although we have this book and my husband has read it, I have not (sorry, Fr. B).  But that night, I sat with the book while my hubby and I sat down to attempt to watch a movie and I scoured the book for the above quotes.  Too shy to ask the host for the pages for these quotes, I skimmed page by page until I found them.  And after I found the first quote, I was confronted with line after line about waiting.  I read…