Like many parents I have a child who has always been a little more challenging than his siblings.
Our young challenger is dyslexic, unfortunately with a late diagnosis, which I feel has always been the main problem. There were always suggestions that he also has traits of ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome, something I have come to accept over time. With my acceptance has also come an awareness of just how clever and gifted these children can be.
It’s been a tough job bringing him up and yet in many ways the challenge that has been the most fulfilling. From a child who couldn’t write his own name at ten to a twelve year old who now loses himself for an hour in a Harry Potter book! The first time I walked into his room and saw him reading out of his own choice, I cried. There have been a lot of tears from my own inability to know what to do or how to help, but sometimes for the victories that we have reached together.
This year saw a big change in our pre-teen. What had been manageable before was now causing problems throughout the family, school was a constant battle and my once relatively happy son was now not smiling. As a mother of four I am familiar with the grumpiness of a teenager and the mood swings but this was something different. His school encouraged me to talk to doctors, a route that would have sent us towards the possible introduction of medication, something that is in many circumstances the right answer, but for us it was something we wanted to avoid. However, even I could see that some course of action had to be taken.
Many years before, I had come across DORE, a drug free programme consisting of daily exercises that aim to improve balance, co-ordination, concentration and social skills. However, at the time we were living overseas and the programme at that time included visits to a local centre in the UK, as a compulsory part of the Dore programme, so it wasn’t an option for us.
As I sat at my computer looking blankly at the screen hoping for answers, I remembered DORE. Finding their website, I felt myself drawn, yet again, to their concept, presentation and after talking to them, their supportive attitude. I finally felt that I was not on my own and that someone was really on our side as a family. We had to do some sums, the government does not fund the Dore programme, but ultimately we decided it was worth a try and we made our first tentative appointment for an assessment.
It was important to us that we spoke with our son at length about what we wanted to do, and he was on the whole receptive. He doesn’t want to be excluded from activities, he wants to be liked and he hates to be told off. He is very aware that his intelligence and ability isn’t matching his achievements and he is struggling to come to terms with the gap.
That first morning didn’t start off well and for about an hour I thought we weren’t going to even make it into the car. But, when we arrived at the DORE centre, we were immediately put at ease and I’m sure that was down to the amazing Dawn who greeted us with an enthusiastic smile and showed us where the toilet was (very quickly – as it had been a long journey) swiftly followed by the instructions on how to use the coffee machine. As much as is possible, we were made to feel at home, they even provide computers, which kept our particular pre-teen happy!
We were introduced to our coach who explained all the tests that were to be done in detail. Nothing scary I can assure you. The tests were mainly on balance, eye movement and then a basic spelling and reading test. We were offered breaks if we felt they were needed them, and on the whole we actually found the tests very interesting and our pre-teen insisted on photographs being taken and keeping the sticky tabs that had been placed on his head. For just a minute I was able to see that there really might be some light at the end of the tunnel!