Like many families around the world, my family is home schooling this year. My degree might be in elementary education, but even so, I’m a bit intimidated by the idea of teaching three different grades simultaneously. Add in that one child is special needs, and there was some major anxiety and wondering if I would screw this whole thing up.
This Tuesday, sitting in my basement in the middle of a home schooling lesson, I found myself crying. Not cute tears, but big, ugly bawling tears. My three kids had no idea what was wrong with me, and my oldest was on the verge of waking up her dad to save the day, when I finally brought myself to explain the situation.
My tears weren’t out of frustration or fear; they were out of pure joy.
As I’ve written about before, Dravet syndrome is not just seizures. There are so many things that can occur because of that little genetic mutation, and one of them is developmental delays. Because Dravet syndrome is a spectrum, you never really know how these delays will play out with each child. Your child might be mostly developmentally normal, or they may be unable to speak or even eat on their own. Nothing is guaranteed.
Because of this, I have always felt a lot of anxiety over Austen’s education. I’ve struggled with finding the line between pushing her too hard or not enough. I want her to reach her fullest potential, but I don’t want to set her up for failure, either. It’s a tough job.
There are so many hurdles our kids have to jump over that come easily to their peers. Even holding a pencil can be hard because of her delays in fine motor skills. But this week, Austen wasn’t holding anything back. And on Tuesday, I sat in my basement crying because my baby read her first book all by herself.
That’s right, she read. It might have just been the first level and the easiest book in the Hooked On Phonics course, but my baby read it all by herself. Then she read the second one, and then the third. All three books in level one, all by herself.
She was so proud of herself, and so was I. Each day this week, she has clapped her hands in delight when I’ve told her it’s school time. She can’t wait to learn something new.
Yes, I had always known reading might be an option for her, but like so many things, I just didn’t know. And to see her grasp the first lesson so easily just made my heart swell.
I know this does not mean every reading lesson will come this easily. I know some things will be hard for her, and there will be times when we both get frustrated. I know I will have to adapt her learning environment to fit her needs and learning style. But, all of those things are OK, and I’m willing to accept the challenges. Because my baby not only can learn, but she also wants to learn. That is my greatest home schooling accomplishment.
As John Lubbock once said, “If we succeed in giving the love of learning, the learning itself is sure to follow.”
Note: Dravet Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Dravet Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Dravet syndrome.
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