Your intuition is on high alert. You suspect your child is having trouble learning to read. She can’t seem to remember her letters, or has trouble recognizing simple words. Maybe there is a problem with socialization. Nothing is clear yet, nothing you can point to with certainty; and yet you feel that something isn’t quite right. You make your first tentative moves to alert others, and what happens? “Oh, no, she’s fine,” you hear from your mother. “Look at her—there’s nothing wrong,” your husband tells you. The teachers at your daughter’s kindergarten or nursery school tell you not to worry because she will grow out of it. The pediatrician thinks you are overreacting.
Is it any wonder you feel alone? Is it any wonder you begin to think (with even a little bit of hope), “Well, maybe they are right.”
But how long does that last?
Those nagging suspicions will not go away, no matter how much you try to banish them from your thoughts.
If you find yourself in this situation now, or once did before your child was eventually evaluated and found to have LD, you are in good company. Thousands, maybe millions of mothers had to ask themselves this basic question: “Am I alone in this?” Some even go further and ask, “Am I crazy? Why am I the only one who can see this?”
It would be wonderful if every mother in these early days of LD could find a supportive friend, especially if that friend is another mother going through the same ordeal. Most mothers will eventually connect with others, but it’s not easy to do at this early stage.
Most mothers in existing support groups have already undergone some of the rigors of LD. They have already had their child evaluated, and more than likely are dealing with Special Education issues. As a mother now in the earliest stages of your journey with LD, you may be reluctant to say anything, especially after being shot down so many times before whenever you have dared venture an opinion.
It appears to be a lonely road, but rest assured, there are fellow travelers. You may even know someone who is going through the exact same thing, but like you, is fearful of reaching out and taking the first step. You can try to look to people around you for support—your husband, your child’s teachers, your mother, your best friend—but no one will truly empathize as will another mother who is going through the exact same thing.
To read more about Ford’s experience and the lessons she imparts, read A Special Mother: Getting Through the Early Days of a Child’s Diagnosis with Learning Disabilities and Related Disorders, by Anne Ford and John-Richard Thompson, Newmarket Press, 2010.