NOTHING WAS WORKING
A FAMILy's five year struggle to find an answer for their son
Imagine your child crying every evening - frustrated in every aspect of learning saying “I’m stupid,” “Why do I have to do this,” “I can’t do this!” You know something isn’t right, so you double your efforts, and still nothing helps. Now imagine doing this for five years. It takes a toll, and affects every aspect of your life.
Cam started Kindergarten a happy go lucky kid excited for school. Halfway through the year, Cam’s teachers began raising concerns that he was not picking up some basic letter and sound skills. is was not the first time a teacher shared concerns about Cam. His preschool teacher had told us that he was the “class clown,” and was developmentally behind with fine motor skills and letter recognition. We held off sending Cam to Kindergarten to “give him extra time.”
We thought if we worked with him at home, surely the extra year would be enough for him to catch up. My husband and I are in the medical field and thought we were certainly equipped to “fix” the issue, yet we only gained frustration and uncertainty every time we worked with Cam.
First and second grade were even more challenging for our sweet boy and our family. Every evening was the same: make Cam sit down with us, he would argue, he’d finally attempt 10-15 minutes of reading and math facts, and then he’d end up crying, yelling or throwing some sort of tantrum. He couldn’t remember directions, “read” words that weren’t there, and was not comprehending. Teachers said there wasn’t anything warranting testing him.
We took it upon ourselves to hire tutors and take him to specialized learning facilities. Cam still didn’t make progress. At home, Cam’s sisters struggled with his frustrations and inattentive behaviors. ey called him weird. Cam was becoming insecure about everything. The stresses began to wear on us. We didn’t know what to do and the emotional strain was hurting our marriage. The only advice we got during this time was that “he just needs to keep trying and work harder.” How much harder could we work?!
In the third grade, Cam’s teacher approached us with concerns, but they weren’t academic they were behavioral! We were fed up and knew there was more to our son’s lack of progress than just his behavior. It felt like we were hitting another wall, even after all the times we addressed our concerns about Cam to the school. We insisted that our son be evaluated, but found legally the school has 90 days to start the evaluation. at was too long. We contacted a private practice and within one week we had our answers.
"Our son truly had a learning difference. How could he ever be like other kids? What did we do wrong as parents?"
Cam displayed symptoms of a Reading Disorder/Specific Learning Disability in Reading/Dyslexia. He had weak comprehension skills, weak writing and spelling skills and difficulty with sequencing and verbal sequential memory. He had inattention issues with ADD and as if this were not enough, he was also diagnosed with anxiety. We were told it would be challenging for Cam to learn at the same rate as his peers.
We knew there was more contributing to Cam’s behavior and learning but to hear the results out loud by a specialized educational psychologist was traumatic. We didn’t fully understand or comprehend all that was said. In our heads, we were frantically trying to figure out what to do for our son. It was overwhelming. e floodgates of emotions opened at full speed.
Our son truly had a learning difference. How could he ever be like other kids? What did we do wrong as parents? We can’t “fix” him. is wasn’t going away. We panicked.
Guilt had become a common emotion. We let this go on for so long when we knew in our hearts there was an issue. It is awful to feel helpless and vulnerable when you don’t know where to go or what to do for your child. It wasn’t healthy for any of us to carry this feeling around. We became angry and defensive. We started pointing fingers and wanted someone to take responsibility!
We researched home schooling, parochial schools, and very expensive, private schools. None of these options could address the challenges Cam faces. It was overwhelming looking into all these schools and still coming up empty. It was recommended that we find a school that taught the Orton-Gillingham approach. We had no idea what this was. We searched the internet and discovered a list of the top 50 schools in the US for children with learning differences. As we read through the list we began to consider packing up our family and moving to another state.
Then, listed at number 18 was Fortune Academy. Right here in Indianapolis! We couldn’t believe it. We called the school immediately. ey invited us to visit, take a tour, and talk. ey understood. ey didn’t look at us like we had two heads or that we were overprotective parents, but rather they listened. They cared! Tears of joy came, but also apprehension. Was Fortune really going to be the answer for Cam’s learning differences?
Cam couldn't wait to start fourth grade but still felt very unsure of himself as a learner. His first few weeks at Fortune Academy were amazing! Every day he came home with a smile on his face, wanting to share about his schoolwork, his projects, his talks with the counselor. He made new friends. And for the very first-time he was excited to go to school!
“We are so proud of the achievements Cam has made in just one year. He is more outgoing and confident than ever.”
Cam is now a confident 5th grader who has made significant strides in reading, writing and math. He understands he needs a different way of learning and recognizes when he needs to take a break from an activity. At Fortune, Cam is one of four in a class with individualized attention to academics and social skills. Cam no longer argues, cries, or tries to get out of homework at night. We no longer receive emails regarding Cam’s behavior in the classroom. Instead we hear, “Cam is such a joy to have in class,” and “he truly cares about how he performs”. We knew he cared. We knew he was a joy.
We are so proud of the achievements Cam has made in just one year. He is more outgoing and confident than ever. is year he even joined Fortune’s cross-country team. At home, the relationship between Cam and his sisters has improved greatly. ey laugh and have fun together. His sisters now understand that everyone is unique and that Cam has things about him that are different but not wrong. Many of the negative emotions we experienced as a family on a daily basis are gone. We have a new sense of support, security, and hope. Cam’s academic and social improvements are a result of the well-rounded education he is receiving from Fortune. ey embrace his differences and acknowledge him for who he is - a great kid who learns differently.
We could speak on behalf of many children and their families who don't know where to turn or ask for help, the families being told their child needs to work harder, listen better, and just keep at it. e reality is there is a place to go for help – an amazing place – right here in Indiana!
Fortune is a place where parents receive support and are educated on the challenges our children face. Children get the academic and social support they need to thrive! It is truly transformative. We need your active support to help keep this great and very needed school going. You can make a difference for kids like Cam. You can change whole families like mine. Keep it going and show the strength of this community with your gift now. Our goal is $125,000. Join in!