I was first concerned for my daughter her kindergarten year, a year I was teaching her at home. She had trouble learning and trouble remembering. She would learn to write her name only to forget it the next week.
We placed her in a classroom for the first time in first grade, and her symptom became more severe. One day I was watching her in class. Her teacher asked her to be the line leader. Natalie looked up dazed and confused, and then went to the sink to wash her hands. The other children laughed and said, “Natalie. You’re supposed to line up, not wash your hands.” Natalie’s face turned red and she slunk to the front of the line.
By mid year her teacher was concerned as well. She wasn’t progressing in her skills, but instead seemed to be going backwards. She was very anxious and didn’t even seem to know the days of the week or recognize her numbers and letters. (She only recently told me that numbers and letters used to flip on her constantly so that she could not learn them.) Even more concerning, she would forget simple things like how old she was or how to count to twenty. We ran a whole battery of tests, from speech and language, to intelligence testing, and academic testing. Her language skills were above average; her intelligence was healthy; but her academic skills were way below average. Her emotional and social development seemed to be regressing daily.
Natalie also lagged behind her peers in gross motor skills like riding a bike, swimming, and jumping rope. She had trouble getting her body to cooperate with her, and her lack of confidence caused her to give up easily.
We took Natalie to the clinic to see a psychologist who diagnosed her with ADHD-inattentive type. She said that the forgetfulness and the skill regression were due to her high anxiety level. She was concerned to see destructive coping mechanism emerging in a child so young, as these did not usually develop until middle school age. She felt that we needed to get Natalie special education support as quickly as possible to lower her anxiety level.
Even with special education services, Natalie’s progress felt slow and discouraging, and she continued to suffer from a low self-esteem. We moved to a new town at the beginning of her third grade year and prayerfully made the decision to place her back into a second grade class.
She began to grow in self-confidence that year, but her academic skills continued to lag behind. At the very end of this year, she began to read at a first grade level.
It was during her third grade year that the Lord was really teaching me to pray. My prayers were simple at first, mostly centering around the needs of my two children, and as prayers were answered, I slowly began to cross them off of my list one by one. Natalie learned to ride a bike. She learned to cross the monkey bars. She began to make progress in math, and then more significant progress. Most importantly, she learned to pay attention and to engage in the learning in her classroom. That summer she really learned to swim: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and treading water.
My faith was growing with Natalie’s confidence, and I began to intercede for her with greater urgency and confidence. I asked the Lord to bring her skills up to grade level in math, reading, and spelling. By the spring of her fourth grade year, she got the top scores on her state testing for both math and reading and exceeded the state standards! She literally got the highest scores in her fourth grade class. She said, “Momma, I went from the very bottom to the very top in just one year.”
Of the many things I have learned about my faith in God over the past few years, this is the most significant. When we pray, we are to be like the children of Israel on the first passover night when they ate the passover meal:
“This is how you are to eat it; with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s passover.” Exodus 12:11
Be expectant; be excited, and watch for miracles!