Do you get frustrated with your DC's learning difficulties?

(44 Posts)
cakedup Wed 28-Sep-16 17:03:19

I'm wondering if any parents of dyslexic/SEN children ever feel like I do, as I feel really awful about it.

DS (11) is severely dyslexic. He is about 3 years behind in literacy. He hates school more and more with each year as it gets more challenging, and now he has just started secondary school and he can't keep up with the pace.

When helping him with homework, or anything school related, I feel quite exasperated, frustrated and sad. He is not one of those dyslexic kids you read about who excel at something, or that you can see is really intelligent despite their literacy skills. He is not really good at anything. Except maybe swimming.

I've always told him otherwise. That he is brilliant, that he can't be measured by tests, that he will shine in other ways, that dyslexia means he just thinks differently and with that comes other skills. But I'm beginning to feel less convinced about it myself sad .

I have to help him with homework and I'm afraid sometimes my real feelings show. I have TA experience and a degree in creative education and I feel like a failure that I can't seem to find a way to help him do his homework.

For example, for history homework, I let him watch a short youtube video about the relevant subject. Then talked over the key points. Then asked him to answer the relevant homework question. I returned a few minutes later to find he had copied chunks of the video text (as it was subtitled). So I told him that this wasn't answering the question and was out of context. He said "oh, I thought you'd be proud of me" and looked genuinely disheartened, and I said "but all you've done is copy some text?" (whilst thinking, why would he even consider that an accomplishment?). I said no, in your own words. He couldn't do it. So I literally spoon-fed it to him and even then he was having difficulty. I would say "so you can say that people used to settle in one place and that's how civilisations would form" (after having explained this concept to him, showed pictures etc) and he'll say "so people weren't allowed to travel anywhere and were forced to make a civilisation" or something like that. And I just don't know how much plainer I can make it!!

I will always continue to praise him and am proud of him for being such a lovely, thoughtful child. But I find myself feeling gobsmacked at his inability to grasp very basic concepts...and I don't like feeling like that. I have done lots of research on dyslexia and can understand why he has some of these difficulties. But it seems to be such an extreme level and...no amazing gifts, skills, etc. to balance it out!

I hate feeling like this about him.

wizzywig Wed 28-Sep-16 17:06:36

Basically yes. Its incredibly frustrating but you know that they just cant help it. I found i had to step away and i hired a tutor who could teach using the same methods they do at school. Its lovely to now be a mum not a teacher

cakedup Wed 28-Sep-16 17:28:04

wizzywig I'm glad you said that because I was half thinking of telling the school (at our next meeting re his SEN) that something needs to be done about homework so that I'm not having to coach him through it so much. On the other hand, I really do want to help him.

How often/how long do you have the tutor?

cakedup Wed 28-Sep-16 17:32:40

To be honest, sometimes I find it hard to understand the homework and he won't remember what was said about it in class. So I'll spend ages trying to find info on it online, and sometimes it's new learning for me (maths methods I don't even remember doing). By the time I've got to them relay it to him, I'm already frustrated.

blaeberry Thu 29-Sep-16 19:25:00

At the moment I am more sad than frustrated but I go through cycles with it. I went to the dyspraxia foundation conference and they had one of the founders talking about her son with the message that they are good at other things. Her son was very gifted and also won britain's got talent or something like that. I know her son struggles but I couldn't relate to her at all - my son has all the struggles but no particular talents. All the books I can find for children explaining SEN also seem to end with 'he may struggle with X, Y or Z but he won prizes for story writing' or 'was great at playing drums' not just 'he struggled'.

LotusElise1 Sat 01-Oct-16 19:46:14

I agree that finding him a tutor who specialises in dyslexia would probably be the best thing for both of you. I'm part of a dyslexia support group in Aus and as part of Dyslexia empowerment week this month lots of parents of and kids with dyslexia have written letter about their struggles and journey with dyslexia. It might help you to read some do their stories as they're not all brilliant at other things. http://www.myredletter.com.au/?m=1

cakedup Tue 04-Oct-16 00:38:48

Sorry, only just see these comments... blaeberry exactly ! I find it quite alienating actually. I feel we don't belong to the SEN-but-with-a-secret-gift club at all. Of course it's easier to deal with if they have a particular talent!

LotusElise1 I simply can't afford a tutor right now, but will look into getting one when I can. DS won't be enthusiastic about it though, he is very precious about his spare time being his to do what he wants and not studying, which is what he hates and is forced to do most days. Thanks for the link, will have a look now!

Muddledmike Tue 04-Oct-16 09:08:24

Agreed. My son is 11 and profoundly dyslexic and "cognitively normal" but he is at a special school as he stands no chance in accessing the curriculum without a 1:1 reader/scribe. As a parent I feel like I'm walking down a different road.

cakedup Tue 04-Oct-16 18:00:18

Yes, Muddledmike it does feel like a different road. In every story or film about a child who is 'different' is an amazing and beautiful ending...I've bought into it myself. But what about those who just struggle throughout life because of their difference?

It's kind of reassuring to hear about your ds because he sounds just like my ds. Most of the time it feels as though ds is the most dyslexic person in the world, any other dyslexics we've met have milder symptoms.

user1475253854 Tue 04-Oct-16 18:11:43

This is slightly different to your situ caked but on women's hour a few months ago there was this lawyer talking about her daughter. She had autism/asperger's but low intelligence, so actually struggled with lots of things, particularly being independent and doing online banking type things or anything with automated machines etc. Yet everybody presumed she'd be a maths whiz because of the autism. It's a completely different situation I know, but similar in terms of expectations. I'll try and link it for you.

Muddledmike Tue 04-Oct-16 20:26:25

I think I got off the expectations train a while back in so far as any kind of exams are concerned. I hope he will leave school with functional skills in literacy and numeracy. He is capable of improvement. He copies off the board as if the teacher's writing is a work of art, following shapes rather than making any connections with what it actually says. As I say VERY profound and I couldn't agree more, I want to commit violence when people say "so and so's child has dyslexia and they just got a first at Cambridge" or whatever amazing thing it is! That's not happening here and I'm being realistic not negative!!! We are hoping to focus on his interests, he likes trees, plants, the outdoors etc. so maybe a BTEC course in horticulture or something... I don't know. In the short term, we've got OT involved and he's now had assistive technology written into his EHCP (which school has yet to implement) however, hopefully some kind of voice recognition software and another package called clicker7 will maybe help give him some form of independence to record his ideas. (He uses a lower case keyboard) He does know things but can't articulate verbally let alone write it. Difficulty processing etc. I do understand your frustration - I wish all the time I had a magic wand

Muddledmike Tue 04-Oct-16 20:28:34

I meant to say, my DS does have an EHCP - It would be impossible without it.

cakedup Wed 05-Oct-16 14:07:57

user1475253854 that's a good example actually...must be so annoying for people with autism who are especially considered to be geniuses.

Muddledmike I honestly don't have any expectations either and all I want is for DS is to be happy. I think we are fortunate in that people are increasingly reliant on technology and I'm hoping that's how DS will get by in later years. He copies off the board as if the teacher's writing is a work of art yes well without the ability to decode that's exactly what it is to them. Oh god yy to the Cambridge thing. There is a world of difference between being mildly dyslexic and profoundly dyslexic. In my borough, it is impossible to get an EHCP based on dyslexia alone, no matter how severe it is.

SweetGrapes Wed 05-Oct-16 14:13:10

I do get incredibly frustrated but always it is because of my expectation.
If a baby was doing what your child is doing , you would be over the moon. Always, always - my patience increases when i lower my expectations and acknowledge that it is incredibly difficult for dd. For some things i can this readily - for others, i struggle everyday.

Msqueen33 Wed 05-Oct-16 14:21:19

I have two with autism and one has dysculia. Neithe of the two with autism have special talents or gifts which is hard in some ways as they struggle across the boards. School told me my six year old isn't meeting expectations (told everything not to shout that she doesn't process stuff in the same way and no I didn't expect her to meet expectations in a similar way to an nt child). It's a very lonely road. Could they modify homework for your son? Sounds like he's struggling with the comprehension side a little. What are school suggesting?

JesusDontWantMeForASunbeam Wed 05-Oct-16 14:23:42

DS (7) has ADHD. I get beyond frustrated when trying to help him with homework and he's sliding around, scribbling and mucking about. I then get angry that I'm frustrated and it's not his fault. Then I hate myself.
And the circle begins.

DrCoconut Wed 05-Oct-16 14:30:26

Can I ask what made you realise your 7 yo has ADHD? I have my suspicions about DS2 who is 5.

vickibee Wed 05-Oct-16 14:34:55

My son is 9 and has HF autism, he is really articulate and above avg intelligence but is working below expected level in all areas. Personally I don't think he gets enough interventions at school and we are using some of DLA to pay for a private tutor, has made heaps of progress 1 to one. Homework is a challenge, unless it is model making or arty stuff he doesn't want to know. We end up with a meltdown usually and it is really hard sad
Only just been diagnosed so will see what SENCo says at next IEO meeting

junebirthdaygirl Wed 05-Oct-16 14:41:34

When you say he copied stuff straight off utube remember regular kids do that too. Mine would have taken the book and copied out a big chunk just to get it done and wouldn't have cared if it was right or not but DONE. Some things he will do just because he is 11 not because he is dyslexic.
My other ds is dyslexic and found school so difficult but was a good people person. Moving into a career now involving people. Can't say area as might out me but as he started work there there were 4 people working on a particular task and they discovered the 4 of them were dyslexic.

JesusDontWantMeForASunbeam Wed 05-Oct-16 14:53:14

From about 2 onwards he was just hyper and very hard work. Would lash out violently, no focus, fidgety, struggled with people, obsessive over topics. We thought he was HFA but CAMHS refused to see him. Finally in year 2 he was referred to a paed and after a Ritalin/placebo trial we had a diagnosis.

We went back and forth to the doctors for years. It wasn't until the school finally listened (yr1 he has a NQT who refused to admit there was a problem) that they referred him.

zzzzz Wed 05-Oct-16 15:03:53

It isn't easier if you have a very spiky profile.

Couldn't you just stop judging him based on his academic performance? Or any performance really? confused

I have a large family and multiple difficulties and abilities in the mix, and I really think you just need to change your value system.

Generally how good I feel about teaching any of the children something is about the journey not the outcome.

cakedup Wed 05-Oct-16 16:47:56

SweetGrapes the same - I do lower my expectations, and with some things that will work out fine. But every now and again even I, with my really low expectations, will be surprised.

Msqueen33 DS has just started secondary school so the SENCO is still assessing and putting support in place.

JesusDontWantMeForASunbeam yep, been there! It's not easy.

vickibee is it usual to get DLA for a child with autism? DS would really benefit from a tutor specifically trained to support dyslexic children. However I really doubt I could get DLA for him.

junebirthdaygirl thanks for that, it's really useful to know because I don't really have a frame of reference. DS is an only child and I don't know anyone else who is as profoundly dyslexic as he is. It's useful to remember that at times he is just being an 11 year old. wouldn't have cared if it was right or not but DONE YES, this is DS. And I just presume it's because he is dyslexic and therefore hates homework.

zzzzz I don't think you really understood my post. Of course I don't judge my DS based on his academic performance. FWIW I was having a particularly bad homework night when I wrote my OP. Getting it off my chest (no DH for support at home) and the helpful responses (not yours) helped and the last few homework sessions have gone a lot smoother.

youarenotkiddingme Wed 05-Oct-16 16:59:50

I get frustrated. But what I am getting from your posts is that you feel the same way as me. You get frustrated for them not at him?

It's hard. You want to support your child to learn but children with specific learning difficulties need specific input for learning. When you know your child isn't understanding it's concerning when you know it's just going to get harder.

My DS has ASD alongside specific difficulties in learning. I love it when we work on something and he achieves it. But I also worry that whilst we've been on that journey his peers have learnt 5 times as much and it's always catch up. I don't care or want him to be top of the class. I just want him to be his best. But sadly specific learning difficulties often provide barriers to that being the best in that they never know what they can acheive because they focussing on achieving the skills in their area of weakness.

For example my DS dies actually have some really strong areas. Maths and computing. But..... His problems with reading and writing still hold him back in this area and so with the curriculum more focussed now of real life written problems and using mathematical knowledge to solve them - whereas DS can use complex maths he can't always understand which mathematical bit to use as he doesn't understand the question.
If he just had a page of "solve this linear equation" he'd be flying!

Muddledmike Wed 05-Oct-16 17:05:25

As far as I am aware no LAs fund for "dyslexia" the word certainly isn't mentioned on my sons EHCP even though we all know that is exactly what the issue ultimately is. I had a conversation about it and was told they refuse to acknowledge it because " the spectrum is so wide and if we provide for one we have to provide for all" hmm anyway, having learned all this (and the educational psychologist giving me pages and pages on dyslexia which could be an autobiography of ds's difficulties) we went back and broke his issues down into very small parts, ie, processing, phonological awareness, visual perception.... You get the idea, the more areas of "need" you can build the more you can build a picture of additional support required. It's an elaborate "game" . We got DS into a specialist setting which is funded.

zzzzz Wed 05-Oct-16 17:10:10

I'm sorry you found my post unhelpful OP it wasn't meant to be. I'm not into posting "oh yes isn't it awful" posts as I don't think they are particularly helpful. I took time to answer and think about what has genuinely helped us. I suspect that that has very little value to you though so I'll leave you to it.

I hope you both find a way that works for you.

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