Trust your gut. Always, always, trust your gut. I’ve known for a while that the Engineer had trouble with reading. I knew that he struggled, and I knew there had to be a reason why my smart, creative, problem-solving son just didn’t get it. Sure, he’s defiant, obstinate, stubborn, and all those other lovely adjectives that we love to complain about, but I knew there was a reason behind his defiance.
And as it turns out, I was right. Oh, how I wish I could sit here and say “he’s just being a little snot.” Because I finally figured out a part of the problem, and it’s not making me happy.
We’ve been playing around with the online game Teach Your Monster To Read because I wanted to try something new. He absolutely hates me telling him to “sound it out,” so I thought we would try a different approach than the slightly lazy phonics method we’ve been doing.
If you’re not familiar with the game, let me give you a brief overview. Your child has a character in the game – a monster – that they control. Their monster plays games, solves riddles, and captures “trickies,” those words that don’t quite fit the rules in our somewhat weird English language. Some of those games involve reading the word and matching the sound, or hearing the sound and matching the letter/word to fit.
The Engineer can’t do that. Most of the basic sounds he did ok with, but the blends …
After sitting with him and analyzing what he’s struggling with, I can safely say that he cannot hear the difference between CH, TH, and SH, V and F, and E and I. At a minimum. I’m pretty sure there are more that he struggles with but that gives me a base to start with.
That is … scary. Because that means we’re dealing with a huge can of worms.
According to what I could find online, the average 5-year-old has mastered TH and CH and can differentiate the sounds. The Engineer is 6. And the online experts say that we need to get this fixed before age 8 or it’s going to be much more difficult to fix.
So I’m headed to the computer to find the nearest speech/language pathologist and get his hearing tested. He’s been slurring his words for a while but we always figured that he was getting sloppy because he was talking too fast. He’s always talking, and he’s always talking too fast.
I never thought that it might be because he couldn’t hear the sounds correctly and therefore wasn’t saying the sounds correctly.
So last year, when I worried about his reading, my gut was telling me to listen. The year before that when I worried that his speech was slurring a bit, my gut was smacking me over the head and yelling at me. And at 2, when we talked to the pediatrician about his lack of speech (I know, crazy, right?) our intuition was spot on – there was a problem. He flipped a switch right after age 2 and never shut up, but his speech was never fully clear.
I don’t even know what to call this. I don’t even know if there’s a specialist around here that can handle it. And I don’t even know it they’ll take me seriously, because given our experience with doctors up until this point, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll listen to “just mom.”
Damn! We were just starting to do better! We were doing math without huge fights, his self-esteem has gotten so much better, and his behavioral issues have started improving. A bit. Now this. Or perhaps, now we know this. Could this be why he’s always yelling? Why he never seems to hear me? (his hearing tests at the pediatrician have been fine. For what that’s worth.)
So parents, if you think there’s a problem, listen to your gut. Follow your intuition. We often ignore it because we’re not the experts, but we’re with our kids every single day. We know them far better than any doctor could. Parents know. They just don’t always know what.
I don’t know what the problem is right now, but I sure am going to find out.