Parent Stories: "After Years of Failure ... a Miracle"
One mom's struggle to identify her son's learning disability and get him the services he needs.
By GreatSchools Staff
"Elaine" is the mom of three children with special needs. She lives in California with her family. We've changed her name and that of her son
because of a confidential legal settlement she reached with the school district.
Elaine's oldest child, "Luke," is now 16 and has speech and learning disabilities. Her second son is 14 and has been diagnosed as high-functioning autistic. Her daughter, 7, was a late talker and received special education services in pre-kindergarten. Elaine spends a lot of her time dealing with her children's disabilities and trying to be sure they are getting the help they need. "My children's disabilities are my volunteer work!" she said.
This is the story of Elaine's journey to get Luke the services he needs. It was a journey that took careful research, persistence and forceful advocacy. But her son is succeeding today. "After years of failure at school, it was nothing short of a miracle," she says.
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First Signs of Difficulty
Elaine suspected early on that Luke might have a learning difficulty. Her youngest brother was dyslexic, so she had some experience with learning disabilities. When Luke was a pre-schooler, Elaine noticed that his language and fine motor skills were delayed. She said, "He was very sweet, but his writing and drawing were delayed, he didn't like to color and he didn't want to read books with me." Elaine knew that language delays are often the first indicator of learning disabilities and decided to have Luke evaluated.
Elaine arranged for a private evaluation for Luke, and he was diagnosed as having inattentive attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a speech disorder called oral and motor apraxia. Children with oral (or speech) apraxia have trouble planning and producing the precise movements of the mouth necessary for intelligible speech. Motor apraxia affects coordination and balance in gross and fine motor movements. For example, a child with motor apraxia might have difficulty with writing or tying shoelaces. Apraxia can affect success in school and social development.