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'Being seen to achieve something' - is this view good enough for our children?

Wednesday 14 August 2019

By: Susan Stewart

It was once put to me, that even though our son wasn’t particularly achieving a great deal at school, he was at least ‘being seen to achieve something’.

Danny, now ten, is the most hilarious, demonstrative, happy, overpowering, super sensitive, apathetic, kindhearted boy I know. He doesn’t like to write, it hurts his hand. He doesn’t like to read aloud, he finds it confusing. He doesn’t understand sequencing and letters jump around on the page. Danny, amongst other things is Dyslexic.

Throughout his school life, Danny has struggled greatly in the hands of education. My natural instincts repeatedly niggled at me, that he was most probably dyslexic. Despite my many attempts of bringing this idea to the attention of his educators, head or otherwise, I found my motherly presumption repeatedly dismissed as Danny was in their opinion, just a naughty, disruptive child.

Danny’s ongoing difficulties during the school day, coupled with his horrendous meltdowns and defiance at home regarding reading and writing, began placing considerable strain on our daughter and family life in general. ‘Biff and Chip’ with ‘Floppy’ the dog and their ‘Magic Key’ failed terribly to catch his attention, ultimately being thrown across the room several times most evenings. Lego Ninjago however, seemed fairly promising if we only discussed the pictures.

We requested through Danny’s (then) school, that Danny be assessed for dyslexia. Our request was rejected. Danny bizarrely enough, didn’t meet any of the criteria.

By now, enough really was enough, so for our sanity, Danny’s and that of Floppy and the Ninja’s, we decided to challenge the already forlorn assumption of our son by having him tested privately. Finally, just an hour and a half later, the most huge weight lifted, allowing those persistent little niggles to find their voice, and were belatedly able to say..“I told you so.”

Since finding Danny the appropriate school for his needs, one that understands and nurtures boys like himself, the gradual process of rebuilding his self esteem, confidence and skill sets has begun. The pathway to his out look has become much wider, whilst his spirit and great character continue to flourish.

Following my families journey so far, whilst living in todays world, one where we are constantly reminded how we are ‘ALL’ worthy, we should stand up for our rights and ‘EVERYONE’ is deserved, I have decided to join the stand for those children who struggle everyday to be heard. To be nurtured. To be understood. A stand that they are not punished, left unrewarded, or removed, just because everyone around them ‘GETS IT’ whilst they DON’T.

These children have a disability, one that inhibits amongst other things, how they read, write and get through the day. These children deserve the same shot at a decent education as their peers. I do not agree that, ‘BEING SEEN TO ACHIEVE SOMETHING’ is good enough for any of our children, and neither should anyone else.

Dog Lexius…A Tail Of Two Friends, tells the story of Sam, a nine year old boy who loves playing computer games. Sam has a great imagination and would dearly love to own a dog. Sam has fallen behind greatly at school, with his teachers rather unsympathetic towards his struggles or his mums self diagnosis. Matty, Sam’s best friend, loves him just the way he is, regardless of his reading and writing abilities.

One evening, Sam falls asleep at his computer whilst creating a space hound for he and Matty to play with. Upon the stroke of midnight, the playful pooch magically comes to life, inviting him on a purposeful adventure. An adventure that will change his outlook and change his life.

“Shall we go now Sam? Let’s have some fun” said the little dog grinning from ear to ear. Sam’s heart started to pound so loudly that he worried it would wake up his mum in the next room. Then without another thought, he leaned forward and pressed the tag as quickly as his trembling fingers would allow.

Once the great array of magical colours had stopped swirling, Sam found himself transported far into the great night sky.

“Where are we going Lexius?”

“All in good time lad. I’m going to help you, you’ll see.”

Travelling at high speed and with eyes so wide they could almost pop, Sam could barely hold on to his thoughts. They whizzed past planets, rode alongside shooting stars and loop-de-looped the moon. Relaxing a little, Sam became aware of their space craft. Chuckling to himself, he thought it had all the makings of a super charged flying water bowl. The craft brimmed full of gadgets and technology that a boy could only dream of owning and Sam couldn’t quite believe his luck. His thoughts turned to his best friend Matty who should have been there to share this with him as they did everything together.

It was the most clearest of evenings, and the hazy summer warmth was still evident even at this hour. All the planets where dazzling as far as their eyes could see and the feeling became intense. They soared passed Jupiter, spun across Mars and swooped around Pluto. Sam was a boy aged nine, so could be forgiven the childish grin that had automatically crept across his face as they slowed up alongside Uranus.

From nowhere, three extremely bright rings, two purple and one green, became highly visible, glowing fiercely in the distance. Sam and Lexius were now totally out of control due to their powerful force pulling the space bowl towards their direction. Lexius jumped up on high alert and his short stubby tail went wild with excitement.

“Wow Lexius, where are we?”

“Hold on lad, this one’s a slippery landing and the power force is strong. We must hit the green ring at just the right spot, or risk being spun out into the galaxy...probably lost forever!”

Sam squeezed his eyes tightly shut. His hands gripped firmly to the metal bar that had automatically drawn around them when they entered the space bowl. The audio navigation system had become stuck, repeatedly announcing,

‘You have now reached your destination…'

’You have now reached your destination!’

Braced securely in their seats, Sam and his great new companion were ready for impact. Following a very abrupt landing, the flying water bowl slid some way before clipping a bolder, rolling onto one side and flinging both boy and dog like pancakes out on to a blanket of the most enchanting silvery blue dust. Picking himself up and brushing the twinkling dust from his pyjamas, Sam called out nervously to Lexius, who seemed to have disappeared. Spinning 360 degrees, Sam spotted Lexius reappearing in the distance. First his back legs and then his front popped out from a large ball of sparkling dust which had buried him completely upon landing. The little dog finally emerged safely giving Sam a cheeky wink and a thumbs up. Breaking free he engaged in a doggie like shimmy, ridding his coat of all the dust and sparkles he had collected a long the way. Finally, after completing a random sneezing fit and a good scratch behind both ears, Lexius appeared to be back on track.

“Sorry lad, you ok? I never did pass my landing test!”

“Err... yes, I feel brilliant.” Sam shouted back whilst wondering if there really was such a thing as a test to land a flying water bowl.

“I think my eyes are still spinning though!”

“Welcome to Letter Land Sam” bellowed the scruffy hound, swinging his arms wide in front of his chest. “This is the land where letters don’t always behave. We are going on a long journey tonight lad. We are going to see the Letter Goblin. The Letter Goblin lives at the top of Letter Mountain and the brightest star, the most special star of all reins continually over the mountain, protecting the Letter Goblin and his people. The Letter Goblin believes that every child fits, and all children deserve the chance to be understood.”

- Dog Lexius… A Tail Of Two Friends