Josie went off to reception class with praise and encouragement ringing in her ears from nursery. She was expected to thrive.
We read with her a lot but she didn’t seem to get it. By year 1, her friends had moved on and Josie had stayed behind. She was still unable to read words with more than one sound in them. She cried when we read and did anything to avoid it. She began to not want to go to school. She started to fall a lot – causing school to watch her at lunchtime to see if she was being bullied. We found out later she was falling over to draw attention to herself and avoid school.
By year 3 the other girls we far more advanced than Josie. She had sunk to the back of the class. She stopped trying anything new and refused to go to after school classes. Although she was present at school events – she was hidden completely at the back.
We asked school many times if there was a problem and we were told she was fine. She cried more and more about going to school. She described herself as stupid if she made any mistakes. Josie had lost a lot of weight. Her hair looked scraggy and her eyes were so sad. We also felt very stupid for letting things go so wrong for her and for believing the school that all was ok.
In year 4 she was taught by a very tough but experienced teacher. She called us in at parents evening and said she thought Josie might be dyslexic as she wasn’t making good enough progress. She said that she was intelligent but was not performing to her ability.
We researched where to go for assessments and classes – we chose Dyslexia Action. We stayed with Josie during her assessment. We were both shocked at what she could not do. She knew she had been exposed in front of her parents, she was mortified. We were fighting back the tears as she was diagnosed as having a working memory problem and moderate dyslexia. Her self-confidence was very low and her ability to risk take was almost zero.
All those meetings asking professionals if everything was ok – we relied on them. All those hours of reading – wasted. All those angry moments of frustration where she wouldn’t try – all that self-confidence being drained out of her and we had not really listened or seen or made it more bearable. We had to make things better for her.
Josie began Saturday classes at Dyslexia Action after a term on the waiting list. She was exhausted after each class but determined to not feel stupid anymore. She believed that she could get better at school.
By year 5 Josie was progressing well at school and attending Dyslexia Action classes. She was making up the gap between intelligence and attainment and she knew it. Confidence breeds confidence and Josie ended her time at primary school singing a solo in the end of year show followed by receipt of a Pupil Achievement Award – both on the same night!
We are really fortunate as we could afford to pay for Josie’s assessment and her classes and had the time to take her to and from Saturday classes. For many people this isn’t an option.
Josie has just started secondary school. She is back to dyslexia classes to support her transition. The staff at Dyslexia Action have been amazing all the way through. Things are much better for Josie and she is by no means bottom of the heap. She loves Spanish, art and is getting a taste for science.
Who knows what her future may bring – we are just pleased to be part of the adventure that is being part of her life.