Tonight I worked on my daughters planner for school. This is a scene that has been repeated for the last 12 school years. This year is extra special because she is a senior in college. I am an emotional nutcase watching her get ready for this school year. I need a hanky!
My daughter has several learning differences (LDs) and ADHD. She moves beyond her struggles by being organized, asking for help, and having a stick-with-it attitude.
Things that come easy to most people are extremely difficult for my daughter. If I read an article I can tell you what it is about. My daughter cannot. She has both long-term retrieval and reading fluency disabilities. This means she must repeat things over and over and over again for them to (hopefully) stick in her head. And even once she learns information she cannot retrieve it on command. She is the last one to get the joke, not because she is not smart but because it has taken her brain a little longer to track the storyline.
It took many years for my daughter to be formally diagnosed even though we knew something was wrong. Most girls present as quiet, shy or aloof and as such public schools are hesitant to have them assessed. Our daughters schools would not test her even though she was spending 5-6 hours on homework and getting little results. We kept asking and the school keep putting us off.
We had already been paying for private tutors, special workbooks, Huntington Learning Center, and more. We had to get answers. I promised my daughter that I would not stop until we understood how she learns and why it is so difficult. Finally, we paid out of pocket to have her assessed. The day we got her first assessment results she was beside herself with joy. “I’m not crazy” was what she told me. After all this time we had ‘proof’ that there was a reason for all of her struggles.
I know every family does not have the resources we had to get assessed. Private insurance does not pay for assessments so many families have to wait for school districts to approve testing. Every family cannot afford the tutoring and other things we tried before her assessment. Every family does not have the language to talk about LD’s and what they mean. We count ourselves blessed in every way.
My daughter is a successful student because she is a disciplined, hard worker. She spends hours upon hours studying even knowing that the outcome may not be favorable. As much as I tell her that school does not define her, I know that she is fighting to prove something to herself and her teachers.
If I was my daughter I would have quit school a long time ago. The fact that she keeps showing up each year completely wows me. Watching her strength of character despite teachers who accuse her of being lazy and family members who say there is no such thing as ADHD/LD’s is inspiring. Watching her advocate for herself on a large college campus with a weak Office of Disability Accommodation is both frustrating and inspiring. To see her battle fear and anxiety while consistently showing up is a testament of the greatness that is in her.
Tonight, I felt blessed to put my daughters planner together. I cherish the moments with her but I also feel really honored to be able to support her on this last leg of her undergraduate education.
This year she is going to chronicle her journey to graduation on her YouTube channel. I hope you will consider following along. Please share her channel with other young people who find school hard. I promise they will be encouraged.
Will you join me in praying for my daughter and cheering her on during this last stretch?
I pray that every obstacle and hurdle be a footstool to get her to the next level; that she encourage other young people who feel like they can’t do school because of all the challenges they face; that she has FUN now that she has finished math, science and Spanish; and that the next 266 days pass by quickly.