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Monday, November 19, 2012

Special Needs Kids and Reading for Enjoyment : The Importance of Crawling!

This is partially about me. I am a little trepidatious to write it....

When I was a child, I am embarrassed to say, I LOATHED reading.  I had such trouble comprehending. I was a "good reader", meaning ORALLY, I could read perfectly. I just couldn't process what I had read. Consequently, trying to do chapter questions in a history book, or in a chapter book was torture, all through school. 

It would take me hours to do homework, and many times, I would just flat out get a bad grade after studying so very hard. 
I would spend hours weeping over math. My parents could not help as they did not have strong educations and were not encouraged to finish school.
My mother went to the 10th grade and my father went to the 6th grade.
In spite of their lacking in education, which was not uncommon for that time period, they did accomplished, paying bills, raising a family and working hard even though there were many hardships.
We moved a lot, so we never had a "history" for teachers to follow and help. 
I went to numerous schools, many times in the middle of the year.  I went to 3 different 6th grades and numerous other schools in other grades. 
I was a good oral learner and I was good at writing papers.  Book work however, or math were my down fall.
I used to go to the library because everybody said reading "Little Women" or "Little House on the Prarie" were books I'd enjoy!  I would check them out and couldn't get past the first page.
In 6th grade I was still reading  Dr. Seuss's  "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish" or "Green Eggs and Ham". 
I would check books out all the time, because that is what you are supposed to do. But I never read them.  I would just turn them back in.

My mom used to tell the story of how I never crawled as a baby.  She said  I rolled or scooted, but never crawled.
I am also left handed.
VERY LEFT HANDED! :)
There were these home movies of me as a baby taking my spoon in my left hand, my mother putting it into my right hand, and me putting it back into my left hand, getting frustrated when she tried to repeat the process.

By all accounts today, I would have been considered having learning differences and I am sure would have been placed in a special class in today's system. 

What happened to me later, after not finishing college because I just wasn't smart enough.... or so I thought, was nothing short of an accidental miracle. :)

I was 18 and newly married, my husband was a HUGE reader. I could never understand why book stores existed, but he loved them.  We would go to the mall and he would go into those awful places and READ and EXPLORE! I just didn't get it.  I would wander around looking at all the titles and be soooo ready to leave! 

When our first son was born, I was 20.  I began  to read things about children, and I was interested enough that I could understand what I was reading. 
I was also looking at cook books a lot....Like I said,  I could READ, I just had a hard time with comprehension.

When our son started crawling, I would crawl around with him.  We would have the funnest time having crawl races and playing peekaboo all over the house!  I think I crawled at least an hour or two a day!
Then came the next son, and the next and the next.....
I loved playing with my boys.  I was 24 when our 4th son was born.  I had been crawling for 4 years on a regular basis!
Somewhere during that time, I started reading the news paper, and then, magazines, and then everything I could get my hands on; especially my bible.

An entire world of books and reading began to open up!   I didn't quite understand what had happened, but I was so happy to be able to be like everybody else who enjoyed a good book!

Then, I came across an article in the news paper. It was all about the effects crawling had on reading.
A study had been done. Adults who had not crawled as babies were encouraged to crawl 15 or 20 minutes a day and they showed improvement in reading skills. 

Suddenly, I realized what had happened.  I cured myself unintentionally! LOL   All those years of crawling helped my brain develop the pathways that allowed my left and right brain to communicate better and I could READ! I could COMPREHEND!  I also found out, I was not dumb. 
I used to overhear things like, "She is not as smart as her sister", or "You are like me!"

So, I made up for lost time, and being a good oral learner and now a good reader helped me gain knowledge that I didn't have before.
 By 1991  I was working in the school system in the special ed department. My heart went out to those kids who were sitting there struggling just like I used to do.
I mentioned to somebody the crawling thing and was brushed off as having no right to an opinion; after all, I didn't have a PHD.  I could VERY CLEARLY see that what was being used for these students was not ever going to work unless they got to the root of the problem.
Of course I understand that not every reason for reading problems is the same.... but exercising the brain cannot hurt!
We had dyslexia, (which I think fits me, but I am not officially diagnosed) and brain damage due to a stroke at 16 days old.
The schools were saying that our second son could not learn.  He had AMBITION.... and I felt so for him. 
I also watched as teachers berated the children who struggled, didn't treat them with respect and made fun of them in the lunch room.  I listened as parents would walk out of an IEP and then the teachers would mock them.  IT WAS AWFUL!
(THIS IS NOT a broad brushed swipe against teachers... it was a real experience that I had in the particular school district we were in. I am sure there are wonderful teachers out there.)

It became very apparent that we were going to have to pull out of the schools if some of our boys were going to learn.
It was a scary decision, but I understood how I learned and it wasn't through pressure and constant remedial reading classes!
Thus began our life style change.  Everybody was home and some were very wounded from the school experience, just like I had been.

I began to tell the guys, you are smart! You can learn! Of COURSE YOU CAN LEARN! If I can, you can!
We went back to the very basics with two of them, and started all over again; because if your foundation is shaky, it WILL fail!  May as well get the foundation FIXED before you try to build upon it!

ANY LEARNING A CHILD DOES IS  MOVING FORWARD and should be celebrated no matter how small!
The results were:  Our boys learned! They not only learned to read, but went on to get advanced degrees in College!  Even our son who was written off as "retarded" and "handicapped", worked diligently to study and learn. Once he got the learning bug, he studied from the time he got up until he went to bed at night.....with JOY.  He was so thankful he could learn! 
He now works in the public school system.  He was teaching special ed but now runs the testing center at his school.

Fast forward once again to the girls!   (this is long because I have had a long life!) LOL

Each of them has had their own learning difficulties, due to early neglect, alcohol/drug exposure, brain trauma, and INTERNATIONAL adoption.... Having to learn a new language is HARD. In one case, she had to learn TWO new languages in a short time and had forgotten her first language. :(
I cannot imagine the frustration!   Well, I can. :)

Each of the girls has learned to enjoy reading to a degree.  Anna and Sarah LOVE TO READ. They devour books continually.  They are well known at the local library! :)
Erika reads well, but prefers to knit.  Erika was unable to crawl because of her disabilities.  I have been looking into brain exercises that would accomplish the same effects as crawling.  We need to implement them into our schedule!

Miss Alli could not read hardly at all when she first came home.  She was also very aware of being "behind".  Trying to convince her to go back to the beginning was a task, but we did it. :)
And it has payed off! 
She too, like I did as a child,  would go to the library, check out books and not read them.  Not any more!
She is now reading for pleasure! YEA!  Just this a.m she was telling me all about the story she was reading and how much she was liking it.  Her questions were so cute.... I could see her imagination opening up and a whole new world is open to her now.  The wonders of traveling into a book and experiencing a whole different reality.... dragons and woods and princesses. :)

I am so thankful that the Lord gave me the experiences I had as a child and young adult.   He knew I would need this knowledge in order to make a difference in my children's lives.  :)

5 comments:

:)De said...

Very good info. We use crawling alot and brain gym daily. If you want, I can send you a copy of my little girls sensory diet that I use. there may be some ideas for Erika.

Mike and Christie said...

De:), I'd love that info! Thanks!

JJ said...

You never cease to amaze me, Christie! You are SO right about the crawling. And, it's equivalent, is swimming, BTW.

My sister's birth trauma left her with a diagnosis of "vegetable", basically. My parents flew her to Philadephia to the experts who were the forefathers of Brain Gym. They had my my and 4 other adults lie her on a table and move her head and limbs in a crawling/swimming pattern 3 times a day for a given amount of time. At the age of THREE, my sister was reading! Yes, she has mild CP and permanent brain damage, but she earned a standard high school diploma at a private school by my mom transcribing audio tapes from her classes.

Hevel Cohen said...

I love the goal of the primary section of my kids' school when it comes to reading: "our goal is to enable our pupils to gather information from written sources independently, thus giving them the tool needed for life long learning".

They also do various exercises before reading lessons in which the goal is to move all four limbs in an opposite: The left and right arm move the opposite direction while the limbs on the same side do as well. Like the right arm and left leg move forward, while the left arm and right leg beckwards. It can be running, jumpink, hokey pokey, or just swinging arms while walking. Does the same as crawling

Jo's Corner said...

Hi Christie! Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving! I just wanted to tell you that there is actually a therapy program in Mankato, MN. that does this crawling technique exclusively. It's run by a group of Catholic Nuns and has been around since the late 70's. I believe there is real truth in the movement theory!

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