Friday, October 30, 2015

Learning Challenges!

Back when Ella was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus we didn't really know what that actually meant for her future. Other than her speech there didn't seem to be anything else that was impacted. In regards to the Hydrocephalus world Ella is very very blessed! If you read up on all the different ways it can and a lot of the times does impact someones life it's scary. Ella Grace really is a miracle! 

Fast forward a few years and now she's in Kindergarten and it's becoming apparent that learning is definitely going to be a challenge for our little girl. She is so bright and so eager to learn and that will definitely benefit her, but she is going to have some challenges. 

The last year of having Ella home with me before she started school I tried so hard to work with her on her letters and numbers. She had a really hard time, but I still didn't believe that it had anything to do with her learning I figured it was just a conflict between her and I. We are so alike and we do not work well together in a learning environment. It was frustrating to me that we would work on a letter and then next day it would be back to square one and she wouldn't remember anything that we learned. I honestly thought she was just acting because she knew she could push my buttons. order to preserve our relationship I just gave up on the idea of trying to teach her formally and figured she's just going to learn better from someone else anyway. 

Ms Asselin her teacher didn't seem to concerned that Ella didn't know her letters and the sounds they make so that helped me be a little bit more at ease. Ella did go into Kindergarten knowing her colors, shapes, the alphabet song and how to count from 1 - 12. What she didn't know how to do is look at a letter and be able to tell you that letters name, the sound it makes and the same thing for numbers. 

About a month after school started we got a letter from Ms. Asselin asking us to please work more with Ella at home in regards to numbers 0 - 5....recognizing them and writing them. And also to work on her letter names and sounds. By this point Ella had already been bringing home homework from school and she loved it! She really loves getting to write...especially her name....and color. She enjoys having a task! I tried to work with her on her letter sounds and the names of her letters...we'd focus on whatever letter her homework was focusing on. I will be totally is by far the most frustrating thing I've had to do in a long time! I would go over and over with her saying the name of the letter, the sound of the letter...then finding a word with that letter sound at the beginning and asking her what sound do you hear at the beginning and she'd say the sound after some prompting and then asking the name of the letter...which she just said about 1 minute before and she wouldn't know. She'd know which letter and she'd point to it, but wouldn't know the name. We'd do this for the same letter 4 or 5 times and she would never be able to tell me the name of the letter. Again I thought she might just be misbehaving because it was me teaching her. So I talked with Michael and explained how frustrated I was and how I'm sure that's not helping the situation so he decided to take over for me in regards to her learning. 

He's been working with her everyday after dinner and it has definitely been a challenge. It's good to know that she's not just misbehaving because it's me and there actually is a disconnect somewhere. Michael started off focusing more on her numbers. First he did flashcards and had her start putting them in order from 1 - 10. She did pretty good on few of the numbers, but got held up at 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10. It actually didn't take her very long to memorize how to put the cards in order, but then if you picked up a card and ask her it's name she wouldn't know. If they were in order she was fine, but take them out of that order and she would be totally lost. 

Then he started working on having her write the numbers. He'd have her write an entire page of 4's saying the name of the number each time she wrote it. Then he'd distract her by having her come kiss me or run around the house once and then he'd have a new piece of paper for her and ask her to write a 4 and she wouldn't be able to do it. 

Let me step back for a second and say....Michael is AMAZING! His patience is astronomical in comparison to mine. He's so good at trying different methods so he's not just trying to teach Ella verbally. He's engaging her in all sorts of ways so he can figure out how she learns best. Truly I'm in awe of him. The best part is Ella LOVES working with her Daddy. She feels so good getting that one on one attention from him and she is so much easier on herself. She jokes and is silly and says things like..."I knew that was a 6 silly me!" It's so good to see her not getting as frustrated with herself. 

Another thing we've been wondering about lately has been the fact that Ella lies so much. I will come into the playroom and ask who was playing with the Toy Story characters and everyone will say "not me". Of course I know someone isn't telling the truth and they aren't in trouble I just want whoever was playing with them to pick them up. I will explain that to the kids and still no one with fess up. Most of the time after a while and saying that no one will get to do anything fun until the person who is lying fesses up Ella will come out and say that it was her. It's gotten to the point where it's really hard to believe her because she's lied so many times. We explain that to her and tell her we really want to trust her, but it's hard when she lies...especially about silly things...not that it's okay to lie about anything, but you get my point. A few weeks ago Ella drew with crayon on her nightstand lamp. I wasn't mad and she did fess up, but we talked about how she shouldn't do that. Then recently crayon marks showed up on the top of her nightstand. She of course denied it. We asked each of the boys to come in and asked them. Again we weren't mad we just wanted the person to fess up. All the boys said it wasn't them and you can tell when they are lying and with Ella's track record we are pretty sure it was her even though she didn't admit to it. After I put her to bed Michael and I got to talking and he brought up the fact that she truly might not be able to remember doing it. If her short term memory is so bad that she can't remember a number that she just wrote an entire page full of then maybe she honestly doesn't remember some of the things she does. 

I'm meeting with Ms. Asselin today to see what kind of options are available to our baby girl. She is on the waiting list at Children's Therapy Center for another round of speech therapy, but I'm wondering if she needs more than just speech therapy. Also I have no idea if there is help for her at school so she doesn't have to go somewhere else after school. It's really unsettling not knowing how to best help her. 

Next week we have an appointment with her Neurologist and I'm eager to chat with him and find out what he thinks. I have no idea if there is any kind of tests that we can run that will show us what might be going on in her cute brain so we can have more knowledge that could possibly help us understand her situation better. 

Her Neurologist did have us get her tested by the state to see if she could possibly get into the ECEAP program at public school so she could attend free preschool, but fortunately and unfortunately she tested just above the line. Her score was a 12 and she needed to be an 11 in order to qualify. In some ways I felt that it was good that she didn't qualify because Ella tends to follow the crowd and if she was going to potentially be the smartest one in the class I didn't want her trying to act and follow along with the other kids. The downside of that is that she would have actually had some form of structured preschool and we couldn't afford preschool so now she's starting out at the other end of the spectrum! It's hard as a parent thinking you might have failed your child! I just want the best for her and I want to find ways that are going to help her succeed and reach for the stars.   

Lots of unknowns for sure! One thing I do know is that God is with my baby girl. She will learn and she's going to do great. It's just going to be a challenging path ahead. The reassuring part is that God already knew all of this about Ella. Nothing surprises Him and he already knows the end from the beginning. He's going to help us navigate this road and when we come out the other side we will give Him the glory for it! We do covet your prayers for our sweet girl and for us! 


Melody said...

Oh friend! This is so, so hard!!! I can so relate! Prayers of peace and wisdom for you.