There is a time for naming names and time for not. This is one of the former.
Small boy aged 7 has faced his own challenges over the past year. Challenges that have tested us all. Without a group of amazing people behind him and us, I don’t know if we would have come this far.
Small boy age 7 is struggling to read. His self-confidence is in tatters. We were advised to consider a remedial school or holding him back a year. Thank God he goes to a school where they acknowledge issues instead of ignoring them. Of course, they probably hate the sight of us because we question everything – and by that I really do mean everything.
At school he has the support of Mrs Owen, a wonderful teacher with decades of experience. Also one, I hasten to add, that Small boy aged 9 has managed to ensnare in his big blue eyes. She adores him and it shows.
There is also the Speech and Language Therapist, Angela Sourmenides
, who has worked with him despite his parents’ constant interruptions.
And of course, the headmistress, Helen Popplewell, who treats each of her gentlemen with the utmost respect and puts up with us barging into her office.
The school psychologist, Hugo, who has spent weeks nurturing a trust between Small boy aged 7 and himself and who helped Small boy aged 7 find his inner fox.
Mrs Reeve and the school librarian who let him come up to the BIG school for Readers are Leaders
Finally, Patrick Lees, the Headmaster of the Prep School, who has been patient and understanding throughout all the turmoil.
Even given the level of my frustration at times, I could not have wished for a better group of people to have devoted so much time and energy to helping one little boy.
After a barrage of tests she has agreed that keeping him back will cause even more damage to an already scarred little boy. It turns out that his biggest problem is crippling anxiety. He shuts down completely. I know how that feels.
The plan now is this:
- Small boy aged 7 will now follow an Independent Education Curriculum at school. This basically means he will carry on as normal, but when work is handed out, the teacher will choose only some of the questions for him to answer. This will increase his confidence as he completes work at the same time as his peers without being singled out.
- He will only see the Speech and Language Therapist outside of school hours so that he doesn’t have to be singled out of class and miss sports. His fear of being singled out is causing him immense stress.
- He will start a programme of play therapy with Hugo and his inner fox to help him grow his coping skills and confidence levels.
- He has to start taking omega 3 and 6, and thank heavens we no longer have to do that with a spoon of cod liver oil. He also has to take a homeopathic stress remedy from Solal called GABAtropin that will help him deal with the anxiety.
Thanks to Melanie we also whipped him off for a massive eye assessment at Eyetec. They don’t just test for 20:20 vision; they test how the muscles of the eye respond. Children’s eyes are not yet mature and they sometimes struggle with the release and tension of the eye muscles. In the past, they would be the dyslexic kids, the special needs ones, the ones who got kept back. There is nothing wrong with their brain function, but the muscles cannot relax and as a result they swap letters, they cannot scan from left to right and they struggle to read.
Of course, as luck would have it, the appointment was the same day as his older brother had to be rushed to hospital. The outcome is that he is going to wear glasses with a slight magnification so that his muscles do not have to strain to focus.
The glasses have already made a shift in his perception of the problem. Suddenly, he is not too stupid to read, but just needed a tool to give him the confidence to do so. Also, they are pretty funky – camo Jeep frames.
He is also going to start a 12 session programme of vision therapy
. Vision therapy involves progressive eye exercises that train the eyes to move more accurately, work together and focus efficiently for longer periods of time. He will have to read while jumping on trampoline, play on a massive touch screen and do other fun stuff that he won’t see has educational in the least.
The cost was also a pleasant surprise. Not only did the medical aid cover the whole thing, but the test only costs R245, a long way from the R800 I paid the day before for a well-renowned optometrist.
As a mother it is often hard to ask for help. We want to do it all. We want to be the superhero. The thing is that asking for help is sometimes the best thing.
Without all the people I have listed here, I could not have helped my son. I owe you all a great debt of gratitude. Thank you.
Nice email back from Eyetek!
Thank you so much for mentioning Eyetek in your (brilliantly written) blog. Casha’s dream is to keep children from being labeled as “slow performers” and your blog proved that we are on the right track!
Glad that we could help and please call on us again in future. Remember, we look after the visual needs of the whole family and not just that of kids.