Nia's Journey

Sania has always been wise beyond her years. When she was a baby, people would tell me, “she just looks smart.” I’m not exactly sure how a baby looks smart, but several people told me this. Anyway, She started reading independently at age 3 (more on that later) and had figured out the times table by age 5. In kindergarten (we were not homeschooling yet), her teacher told me she was reading on about a 3rd grade level.

I was the proud momma of an absolute genius (and still am). She was at the top of her class. 1st grade, Sania started to slip more towards the middle. 2nd grade, eep, spelling tests began along with a teacher that was a really bad fit for her. The last week of school her second grade year Nia came home from school crying one day. After getting her calmed down, she said to me, “Mommy, I’m so stupid I should just kill myself.” My heart breaks all over again writing this. My beautiful, brilliant, sweet girl had brought home her final spelling test of the year. One which she had studied diligently for 6 hours, using every trick and technique we could find on learning how to study spelling words. She had gotten a 50% on that test and her teacher had written in red letters, “STUDY!!! I’m very disappointed!” There were only 3 days remaining in that school year, and my husband and I didn’t make her go back. To make matters worse that year Sania was also mis-diagnosed with ADHD. We later found that she has a hearing impairment, celiacs, and dyslexia. Anyone of these three things can give the appearance of ADHD.

That summer we moved to Ohio and enrolled her in the top rated charter school in the state. It was a great school. Nia had a fabulous main teacher that year. Mrs. Jeans was all about hands on learning, cool projects, and figuring out exactly what was needed for each individual student to be successful. With all of Mrs. Jeans efforts, Nia still had a challenging year. She had a different teacher for math, with whom her learning style and the teacher’s teaching style really wasn’t a match for or maybe Nia just couldn’t hear her. She had regressed greatly in reading. Her self esteem was so low. We still didn’t know about the hearing impairment, celiacs, or dyslexia. We were still ‘treating’ her for ADHD. To top it off I was extremely sick that year, spending most of my days in bed at that time.

It was that year I decided to take some online child psych courses. I had to figure out what was going on with my child. I knew she was incredibly smart, but her intelligence just wasn’t reflected in her grades. She also tried hard and worked hard. In one of my classes I was studying learning disabilities and was assigned to read a book a parent might read after their child was diagnosed with a learning disability. After searching through a list of names of books I choose The Gift of Dyslexia. I choose it because it called  dyslexia a gift. What a concept relabeling a ‘disability’ a gift. What I came to find out was all the crap I had read in text books about dyslexia was just that, crap. It really is a gift! Although dyslexia affects the way you read, it’s not a reading disability like most people believe. It's really just a different way of seeing language amongst other traits. Here was the kicker, I realized there was nothing wrong with my child, she has a beautiful gift. Like many wonderful gifts, there were a few parts of it that are less than desirable.

If I hadn’t come across that book or if it had a more boring name, I think we would still be wondering around in the dark with our kids’ education. As I write this, Nia would be in 7th grade this year. However, she is doing all high school course work this year including algebra. Oh, and did I mention she can speed read. She reads more than anyone I have ever met. This journey has given her a unique perspective about people and their abilities. She is proud of having dyslexia, she tells people, “I have the gift of dyslexia.” She actually didn’t realize it was even considered a disability until someone told her so this last year.

Today, Sania reads amazingly. It's actually almost a freak of nature how she reads. She seems to grab whole paragraphs at a time to read them. She has a bit of photographic memory so she can actually stare at a few pages, walk away and continue to read them. Reading out loud is a bit more tricky. The dyslexia and hearing difficulties combined have made phonics a complete nightmare for Sania. If she is reading out loud and most of the words are common words, it would take an amazingly well trained ear to realize she had any  issues. Throw in long or crazy spelt names of people or places and it will send her brain for loop. Even then she doesn't exactly stumble, she more like murmurs over the words she can't pronounce and generally continues with the same tempo.

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