Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Explaining the ache in my heart - the weight on my shoulders...

This post comes with a warning. I am going to be very real and honest about some things going on in my life. If you want a barrel of sunshine, go read someone else's post today...

My heart has been overwhelmed lately with some things concerning our little princess...Sara. I've hesitated to share anything because I don't officially "know" anything yet. So, as you read, please know that I am not trying to be overly dramatic or state anything as "fact."

I've shared before that Sara has had her struggles with s
chool since she started Grade 1. Basically, those struggles seem to have worsened, especially in the area of Math. We had our end-of-the-year visit with our facilitator last Monday (June 8) and it proved to be a very difficult time. Our facilitator informed us that Sara is a full year behind, and maybe more in certain subjects. That was a surprise to me. And an even bigger and more upsetting surprise to Joshua. We knew things didn't come easily to her, but not that she would be considered that behind. Sara should be starting Grade 3 in the fall, but has really only completed Grade 1 material. Now, here's where I know people have many differing opinions. Joshua and I happen to be of two very different opinions. We're talking through a lot of things and researching a lot of things right now. I know that many of you who are reading this will want to say to me that, "It doesn't matter where Sara is academically - after all, isn't that the beauty of homeshooling?" Or, "Who cares is she's behind? My child is behind too. Sara will eventually catch up. Don't panic." Those things that I just said, are basically MY opinion of everything. I said basically, because there are some more things I will get to later in this post. The issue is, Joshua is of an entirely different mind set. Academic success is very important to him. He will move mountains to "fix" this "problem" with Sara. It is NOT O.K. with him that Sara is not at grade level. While I know that many of you will not agree with this or will even frown upon such ideas, I am the one who has to live in harmony with my husband. I have to listen to his opinions and concerns and do my best to accommodate those things. I still have to honour him and the way he "ticks." I do respect my husband and I'm confident the Lord will show us how to agree together. In the meantime, I am not asking for advice. Just prayer and support, as we work through all of this. This all weighs very heavily on me. It is not fun to be on a different page than your spouse - ever - but, this is a big one. When we chose to homeschool, we took the full weight of responsibility in regards to our children's education. It is a BIG responsibility at any time, but when there are extra challenges, it seems so very heavy. Some people may think or say, "What, are you crazy?! If it's so hard, why don't you send her to school? Why do you do this to yourself?" I am fully committed to homeschooling my children and it would take a very special set of circumstances to make me change my mind. I firmly believe in homeschooling for our children and I will do anything within my power to continue to do so. I will explain what that will look like for this next year at the end of this post.

The other biggie that has come up lately is something that may surprise many of you. Again, I am not asking for advice. This is an even harder one to explain...but, we are in the process of figuring out whether or not Sara is somewhere on th
e autism spectrum. Yes, I'm serious and no, I'm not crazy! I've been letting people tell me for about 4-5 years now that I'm too paranoid or overly concerned, etc. It was always deny, deny, deny. Push down the feelings, and try to pretend that everything was normal. Well, I'm totally done with that. Can you sense the emotions as I'm typing? I never knew what could possibly be different about Sara, but I knew in my gut that I wasn't crazy. As you all know, this recent move to St. Albert has been very difficult for me. I did NOT want to move here. But, I'm beginning to see why the Lord has us here now. He has placed several wonderful, Christian, homeschooling moms into my life who have given me soooo much insight about Sara. I won't mention names due to the sensitive nature to their own situations. One mom, whose daughter has become our new favourite babysitter, has a son who they believe to be somwhere on the autism spectrum. Because we live 5 minutes from each other and her daughter babysits for us often, we've gotten to know each other quite a bit. I gradually began to share some of my struggles with her. As she observed and spent time with our family, she told me that Sara reminded her so much of her son when he was younger. I have gleaned a lot of wisdom from her, asking her so many questions about behaviours, schooling, etc. As our relationship progressed, she encouraged me to Google "autism spectrum" in my search to find help for Sara. I will never forget the day I began to read the articles I found on-line. It was the first time I felt like something made sense. The puzzle pieces of Sara's life finally seemed to fit together and so many things became easier for Joshua and I to understand. Because I don't know anything officially, I hesitate to share specific things. This whole autism thing is somewhat tied to the academic learning struggles, but is more a separate issue. If you look at a list of autism spectrum symptoms, Sara fits a lot of the social issues to some degree or another. If I were to be specific, it may just be confusing to those who aren't familiar with autism. I have also talked extensively with a friend I have known for years who worked with and diagnosed autistic kids for 10 years. She is home now with her own children, but autistic children are still very close to her heart. She has been able to give me specific advice to the province of Alberta and the process we need to go through for a diagnosis. She has confirmed that, although Sara is very high functioning, there are some definite red flags and she has encouraged us to pursue some answers. So, the first step is to get in with a family doctor and explain our situation. We have an appointment with a doctor (which was an answer to prayer just for that) on Monday, June 22. Hopefully, she will give me the referral to a pediatrician I'm looking for. The pediatrician is the one who would make the diagnosis and then refer us to any specialists we might need.

As far as Sara's learning disabilities and struggles, we are planning to have her assessed this summer. Another homeshcool friend/mom has recommended a lady to us, who was very helpful to their family in the assessment of their son recently. I am currently trying to get into contact with her. We hope to get some answers with this lady by the end of the summer. With that information, we plan to homeschool Sara for at least one more year. After that, we will re-evaluate. While I do not believe my child needs to be the next Math whiz or super reader, there is obviously something that she is not "getting." This is why were are taking steps to have Sara assessed and evaluated. I don't think that she needs to be "fixed." I love her the way she is. But, I do think that I need to be more equipped and informed as I am teaching her everyday. I need to know how to help her learn more effectively. We need to reduce frustrations and stress levels around here. Sara needs to have more confidence and less fear as she learns. I want to do everything possible to make those things happen in our home.

Right now, we are just playing the waiting game. It's so hard to wait when you want answers right away. I guess my thoughts and emotions get the better of me some days. Trying to teach and mother and love a child with learning disabilities and autism all wrapped up into one, is so very hard some days. It just really sucks some days. I am exhausted some days. That's where I am right now. My friend who worked with the autistic kids told me that parents of "spectrum kids" go through a grieving process that has many different stages. I'm kind of dealing with the initial yucky stages of everything right now. It is hard for me to talk about all of this, and yet, a relief at the same time. I tried to make as much sense as possible, but forgive me if I just rambled around. I will keep you posted as we walk this journey.
"For you formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise you You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well."
Psalm 139:13,14

11 comments:

Miriam said...

I'm not here to give advice but I am here to be a listening ear whenever you need it, girlfriend!

ALWAYS praying for you and the family ... and can't wait to camp with you guys soon!! We love you!

- Miriam

markay714 said...

Education and getting Daniel and Maria fixed up with in our case, school, has been the single most frustrating thing for us - and one that I just didn't expect. I'll be praying for y'all as you walk through this and figure out how to proceed.

septembermom said...

I'm praying for you and your family. Your family is full of such love and attentiveness to each other. I'm sure you'll get through these struggles stronger. Hugs:)

Jason and Nicole Kumpolt said...

Just wanted to let you know I'm praying for you guys....may the Lord give you peace and comfort your heart!!!

Jennifer said...

Praying for you sweet friend :) Call me anytime!!!

Tamara said...

Prayers, hugs and lots of love coming your way from all of us!!!

Emily Jennings said...

Thanks for sharing! Praying for wisdom within your family and decision making process!

Jessica Cave said...

Thank you so much for sharing, Peggy. It is always refreshing to hear someone else open up about their struggles with muddling through the process of "what's going on with my child?". It looks like you have lots of receptive ears, and you definitely have one here, as well. We have been through a lot of the same process with 3 of our children and still go through it everyday. Would love to chat sometime! God bless you and my prayers are with you and your family during this time of waiting. Love ya, girl!

Nadine said...

Oh Peggy...
We "need" to get together...and no I am also not here to give you advice but a warm hug and listening ear...
There is so much I could say right now but won't until we meet....and after "we" meet...it might be nice for the men in our lives to "meet"...Guy and I even could go to your end for that...
Anyhow...do not loose hope...

Being there myself...one child on the spectrum with many issues...the other fully autistic with more issues...there is life with this...just different...these children are proven to be "smarter" on some levels then their peers...girls tend to struggle with Math no matter what...I have an almost 16 year old daughter that "just" finally got Math and is finally at grade (and a bit higher)level...after never getting it all of her life...an answer to prayer....the key is not all children learn and will see things the same way...it is to figure out what will work for them...

Anyhow...I don't want to sound anything but supportive and will support you in what ever way you need me...

So I am going to be quiet now...hehehe...and I will pray this stupid cold leaves very quickly so we can get together....Paul had a fever last night...again...

Love ya
Looking to the day we get these families of ours together...yea!
Take heart and give your worries to Jesus!! He loves you ...

Blessings

Nadine

Mindy said...

Love you and am praying for peace and clarity for the decisions ahead.

Becky said...

After reading your post, I just had to nod in agreement. We have gone through much the same with our second born, Charlie. I've known literally from day 1 that something has been different with him. I am working on a large post about what we have/are going through with him. But know this, I TOTALLY understand what you are going through. I've done more grieving lately. I will be praying that God gives you wisdom and hopefully some answers too.