June 2, 2020

How celebrating progress has changed my life

How celebrating progress has changed my life

My daughter has a mild intellectual disability which means reading, writing, spelling and numbers don’t come naturally. Her ADHD means concentration falls away after 20 minutes. We’ve spent hundreds of hours with wonderful speech and occupational therapists building her basic literacy skills from the ground up – something that isn’t taught in NSW state schools. That means she can (almost) tell you the full range of sounds each letter makes (there are 44 sounds), which is the starting point for being able to read and spell. And her reading and writing is starting to take flight.

Yesterday we did a literary reassessment, giving us a picture of her progress. The difference two years of targeted intervention has made is incredible. Medication to help her concentration has also improved the rate of progress remarkably. The picture above shows just how far she has come. Of course her peers continue to race ahead and she remains behind the bell curve. But there’s something uniquely rewarding about seeing a kid who has to work so much harder than others translate that effort into progress. Hats off to her Dad who home schooled her for the past two months in lockdown (see photo on right). It clearly paid off.

There’s also something liberating about having a kid that will never keep up, academically speaking. It means we can focus all of our energy on the progress she’s making from the effort she’s putting in instead of obsessing about if she’s keeping up with the class. It creates a joy in my heart where a heavy weight could otherwise be. I know it makes the world of difference to her too. The resilience and tenacity she’s cultivating as a result of her disadvantage will be the making of her. The patience and perspective it helps me nurture has changed me profoundly.

We all get caught up by our comparing mind. Better than / worse than are human judgements our fast brain makes unconsciously all the time. Just think what it costs us. Who would we be if we could loosen its grip on us?

Like all efforts to shift how we react and how we show up, it takes an intention based on who we want to be in this moment for this person before paying attention to the behaviours that matters most. Easy said, harder done but all entirely possible when we do the work to bring out the best in ourselves so we can bring out the best in others. And just like learning to read for Mala, that’s a work in progress for everyone.

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