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“This bottle says replenishment.”- Gabe

Let’s go back to the beginning. From flopping shoe laces, chewing of shirt collars, shorts on backwards and complete disorganization on many days. These are just a few of the observations I had of my son as he was developing his amazing personality, I now see hints of these similar tendencies in many of my students.

He loved to be read too, but once he started learning to read it was exhausting for all of us.  I would ask him to “sound it out.” He gave constant push back, avoidance, tears, frustrations and anger. Having an older brother who also never wanted to spend much time with reading, writing or coloring I kinda figured “it was a boy thing” he wanted to play more than sit or work.

Spelling was very challenging and he would ask how to spell what I thought were “easy words” or words I had already given him. 

Coming from public schools with amazing teachers willing to spend summers helping to reinforce skills.  Parents that are involved and supportive, he was still struggling but I did not know if it was how he was hearing language, seeing the letters/words or how he was saying the sounds, as he had his own vocabulary.  We had eye exams which were “normal” hearing screens which were “normal” and did attend speech therapy to work on articulation. Following this path for quite sometime we are still not seeing the growth everyone was anticipating.   He finally qualified for an Individual Education Plan (IEP) with a diagnosis of specific learning disorder from the school district.  I had no idea what this term really meant, but at the time, this allowed for accommodations to be set that would provide access to the same material that the class would receive but could be supported in smaller groups.  We did see improvement but as we are still struggling to read, Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop​ and all he wants to read are chapter books like the other students.  

We make it into third grade following another summer of speech therapy, more tutoring from teachers and reading aloud at home together.  Everyone had warned us about the  change from learning to read to reading to learn and how significant this is for students.  Having a child that was already struggling learning to read, reading to learn was quite overwhelming. As we progressed and I started to see his personality changing. The anger and frustration increasing and this only made me have more concerns and questions. After many conversations with parents on the side line of sporting events that are professionals in a variety of fields, I decide we needed to get additional testing. We were referred for  auditory processing assessment which did show some areas of weakness but more importantly they asked if he had received a language test. I went back to researching and digging for answers. We headed back for the language test and before he went into session, I asked “is this dyslexia?”  The therapist wanted to complete the testing but had a feeling it might be.

The recommendation following testing was to find someone who teaches with The Orton Gillingham (OG) Approach. I had never heard of this. She felt so strongly that this was what he needed that if we did not find anyone in Savannah, she would work out something to meet with him online. This was in 2015. I immediately googled Savannah Orton-Gillingham and thankfully found Casey Welsh. She was able to begin lessons near the start of the school year.  We started with 3 lessons a week for at least a year or more.  This did not come with out its questions, apprehension and a significant commitment of time and money. I had never heard of OG, is this “snake oil?”  We knew this was a life skill he needed but why THIS specific approach, I was not sure. We were willing to try it and see.

Well, I do not know what we would have done if we had not discovered OG. 

He wanted to attend tutoring!

He was talking about the skills he was learning!

Who was this child?

Fast forward a year or two as we are coming home from sports practice and he is drinking a Gatorade. He says

“This bottle says replenishment.”

I said, “what?” 

He said it again. 

I said “Yes it does.”

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