Friday, September 12, 2014
Crossing the Midline: The Day that Drastically Changed our Reading Lessons
At the time I wondered if she just wan't ready to read. We put away learning to read last year, because she was so frustrated and I let her do math to her heart's content. I'd read that some children don't read until they're a little older and that forcing it before she was ready would just result in tears, so I decided to try it again after a few months had passed.
This year she seemed slightly more ready to try reading, but it was still obviously her least favorite part of our school day.
Then the vestibular disfunction results came back. Vestibular disfunction affects her balance and inner ear. It affects the way her body registers movement.
After mentioning the results of the test in a Facebook group I'm in, another mom who's kids struggle with vestibular issues mentioned that vestibular dysfunction can affect reading because kids who have vestibular dysfunction often have a hard time crossing their midline and this includes crossing their midline for reading.
I've become familiar with problems crossing the midline with Mae in the last year, but I'd never thought of how it might be an issue as she got older. Mae doesn't like to reach across her body. If something is on her right side she'll grab it with her right hand. If it's on her left side she'll grab it with her left hand. And if you ask her to grab something on her left side with her right hand she's likely to launch her body sideways to try to avoid reaching across her body to do it (although we have seen definite improvements in this area).
That night I watched her read on a Kindle. She easily read every word in front of her... and the words were much harder than the words in her daily lesson.
The next day I made sure the book was right in front of her. She easily read the lesson. We turned the page and I slid the book over. The words continued to come easily.
It's such a little thing that makes a huge difference. I'm still watching her read to herself right now. She's easily spent 20 minutes reading, instead of breaking into tears after 5 minutes. Her confidence is growing. She isn't dreading reading any longer.
Many people wonder why a diagnosis can be important, why I didn't let Sadie just muscle through her reading difficulties and figure it out on her own. She's a bright kid. Eventually she might have figured it out on her own.
The answer for me is that by removing this tiny barrier, by moving her book an inch to the side, I've taken a child who was growing to dread reading, who was as likely to burst into tears at the suggestion of reading a book herself, into a kid that's excited to crack open her reading book. And that was made possible by listening to the little voice that said something wasn't quite right and looking for answers and solutions to to help her overcome the challenges she was facing.