I Want To Stand Up on My Soapbox and Scream.
I have found a nifty new position at the schools where I substitute. It is called a “reading specialist.”
This is the kind of job I could have full-time and actually enjoy. My job – as substitute reading specialist – is to go into different classrooms and help kids who are struggling with reading. For some classrooms, I take a handful of kids out of their classrooms for half an hour, and work with them in a small group. Sometimes I get just one individual student for a whole half-hour.
I’ve done this job twice. And what I have learned is, I am a great reading specialist. In fact, this is the job I envisioned when I started teaching twenty-plus years ago. This is also the reason I do home-and-hospital teaching.
I actually get to see the results of my teaching.
My biggest problem is that I can’t “fix” all the students in one day. Some of them, I would never be able to “fix.”
To complicate everything, there’s the vision processing problem – and the other learning disabilities.
Shane’s vision processing disorder was very difficult to diagnose. Only one person in the world – a physical therapist who was not in the school system – was able to guess that Shane should get checked for vision processing disorder.
Combine the physical therapist with the hyper-vigilant mom. Then add a vision processing specialist who’s nearby – which is rare. And we could afford treatment, giving us a recipe for success. But…
Not everyone has that kind of good fortune.
This week, for example, I met a little girl who was reading to the best of her ability, and the letters were obviously flipping and flopping all over the place in front of her eyes. She could have been tired – or she could have dyslexia or even a vision processing disorder.
But it costs $500 for the testing. And this little girl probably didn’t have $5, let alone $500.
And that’s just for the testing. The therapy cost us $20,000 – not including the minuscule amount that was covered by insurance.
That’s why I want to stand up on my soapbox and scream. Assuming every child has insurance (and many don’t), learning disabilities aren’t considered a “medical” issue.
Insurance doesn’t cover anything related to learning disabilities – except drugs. And the drugs do nothing more than to alleviate the symptoms. They do nothing to cure the underlying problem.
Both vision processing disorder and ADHD are related to brain dysfunctions. There is a biological reason for both “disabilities” – and that biological reason is directly responsible for the inabilities to function properly in school (and in life).
The insurance companies, however, have deemed that kids – and all people – with these disorders can “get by” in life. Many, if not all, will be miserable every single day of their lives until they graduate from high school.
ADHD, they say, is not a medical problem. Yet it has been scientifically proven to be responsible for more youth suicides than depression. What more do they need as proof that this needs treatment?
And many kids with vision processing disorders will never learn to read. This very newly identified disorder has no statistics – but from what I saw in Shane, I can say with complete certainty that, if undiagnosed, vision processing disorders will cause the same kinds of reactions in kids.
These kids will just spend their entire lives believing that they’re stupid – and then they will act accordingly in their adult lives.
I thank God every day that we had the means and the good fortune to help Shane. I only wish that everyone could be so fortunate.