This is my youngest boy...he's sweet, caring, and cute as can be. He loves climbing trees and will go to any height to pick a perfect apple for his mom. He loves being helpful, gives great hugs, and is unfailingly kind to animals and little children. He still likes being tucked in bed each night and never fails to tell me he loves me as he settles down to sleep. He has so many wonderful qualities that far outweigh his challenges...but his challenges are very real.
My boy lives every day with the effects of FASD (and that means the rest of us do, too.) He has short-term memory loss and poor impulse control. He struggles to learn even the most basic of concepts in school...and all too often, a skill he seems to have mastered one day often evaporates into thin air by the next. It breaks my heart to see this child try so hard...and yet at almost 14 years old, my boy still hasn't been able to learn to read. What kind of future lies ahead for my child without basic literacy skills? It's a question that has kept me up on more than one night...but it's the season of miracles, isn't it?
This week, my boy brought home a book from school. It was a very simple emergent reader book on the K-1st grade level. I sat with my son as I do most days and listened to him try to read...most of the time, this means I end up reading the book to him when his frustration level starts to go through the roof. This time was different.
This time, my boy read to me WITHOUT HELP.
This time my boy read the whole book BY HIMSELF.
This time, my boy used picture clues and sounded out words!
The next day, my boy was able to read another book aloud to me ALL BY HIMSELF.
And the next day, he did it again.
Did I mention that each time, I cried?
Then we laughed and high-fived each other...he's sooo proud of himself!
Sometimes, you just never know what will or won't work to help a kid with FASD learn. After months (or years) of little to no progress with concepts like time or money, something will finally flip a switch and a new skill will be acquired. We've seen that kind of growth in math but literacy has been very elusive.
So far, my boy seems to be retaining this new skill...and I still get teary eyed each time I hear him read to me. I have my fingers crossed that this is one gift my boy gets to keep. As my other kids would say to their brother:
Epic fail, FASD just got pwnd*!
*Pwn is a leetspeak slang term derived from the verb own, as meaning to appropriate or to conquer to gain ownership. The term implies domination or humiliation of a rival, used primarily in the Internet-based video game culture to taunt an opponent who has just been soundly defeated (e.g., "You just got pwned!").