When Your Child’s Successes Look Different


In my opinion, grades are overrated. In fact, I wrote about it, reposted it, and it’s been one of my most popular posts. I think because we are such a visual world and share successes with such ease, some of us are left to feel a bit like a failure when our successes take on a different wardrobe.

Andrew has learning disabilities. He thinks in a way I can’t understand. He processes life differently than I do. I hold fast to the truth that we were created in God’s image, He knitted us together in the womb, He knows the number of hairs on our heads. God does not form us haphazardly. He doesn’t rush and multitask. He doesn’t make mistakes. In fact, He has a perfect track record. He’s never made one mistake.

I hold this truth, and I live in the knowledge that we live in a world of problems, difficulties, and challenges. But God didn’t make a mistake when He formed us. When He made Andrew to think the way He did, He was pleased with what He created.

I also pray every single day that God would connect all pathways in his brain so that learning would come with ease. I live with the tension of gratitude for the gift of learning disabilities and desire for learning to be less challenging.

Andrew is social to the nth degree. He is also very athletic. Because of this it is hard to notice that he is challenged in other areas. Like I mentioned in previous posts, for years I knew there was something when everyone said there was nothing. I lived on a daily basis with watching him live with frustration rooted in his lagging of both receptive and expressive forms of communication. I heard the comments from well-meaning people that focused on the behaviors they noticed and what I needed to do to “get him in line.”

I’ve come to realize that when you have a child with learning disabilities, and you are around others who have never experienced the challenges that come with it, they simply don’t understand. And that is okay. Before I had begun to walk this road, I didn’t understand either. Therefore, I don’t expect anyone to understand the difficulties we face or the exhaustion that accompanies us daily.

But I’ve experienced something this year I wouldn’t trade for anything in this entire world. I’ve experienced triumph in the tiniest of moments. I’ve felt my heart about to burst right out of my chest as I watched Andrew reach a new milestone, a milestone that was never on my milestone chart before.

We entered kindergarten only knowing a handful of letters and no letter sounds, not recognizing numbers, spatially unaware, and a severe lagging in communication understanding and expressing. Most kindergartners are sponges and learn letters, sounds, clusters, and blends with ease. They soak it in, and by the end of the year are reading with ease.

I can’t compare our year to the children in his class or I would become discouraged. His teacher and his therapists reminded me all year to compare where he is to where he started. I stand here a week away from the end of the year astounded at how far we’ve come.

Midway through the year, we discovered that in addition to language processing disorders, he had some visual tracking, memory, etc issues. Turns out his left eye suppressed his right eye. All these year he’s been using one eye. I can only imagine when both eyes are functioning together properly what he will be able to do. I wait with anticipation to see the places God takes him.

I pray over him every night that God would rewire his brain. I’m seeing it happening daily, right before my eyes. I stand amazed at what God is doing.

As a mom I’m naturally protective. I’m quick to come to his defense when I can tell that people don’t get him. I’m always hoping that when he is around his friends, they don’t notice his inability to learn easily and shun him or look down upon him. I know how cruel kids can be, but I also know that kids simply say things they don’t even understand.

I recently overheard Andrew and a friend having a conversation. Andrew pointed out an observation, and someone corrected him. Andrew saw something, but it was actually something else. The little friend said, “Andrew gets everything wrong.” My heart felt squeezed and broken. I knew it was a child who didn’t know what he was saying, and I know loves Andrew. But everything in me wanted to say, “No! You don’t understand. He gets so much right! He can see things I can’t see. He has ideas I’d never have the creativity to think up.”

I held my tongue, and silently let my tears fall on God. I’m ok with that now. That allowing myself to both hurt and rejoice at the same time. I’ve learned that in many of life’s trying moments, there is this delicate balance of heartache and deep joy. God knows I want my son to be like all the other kids while at the very same time thanking him that he is so different from all the other kids.

And now I realize that this post is twice as long as I intended. But it’s my child, so I know you get it.

And don’t we all stand on the side of our kids cheering them on, thinking at times people just don’t get them? It’s ok. God gets them. He made them. And we have the honor of praying over them and for them without ceasing all the ways we want to see God move in their lives. What power we hold through prayer.

Whatever challenges our children face, we aren’t powerless to stand and watch with breaking hearts. We stand and pray with breaking hearts to a good and compassionate God who hears the cries of His children.

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